Understanding Your Affiliative and Democratic Safety Leadership Styles

affiliative and democratice safety leadership stylesIn the past couple of issues of Recordable INSIGHTS we looked at the kinds of safety leadership styles we may want to use when we’re setting a new vision in place, when there’s a crisis situation at hand, or when we are dealing with new employees–or even problem employees!  Those two safety leadership styles (Coercive and Authoritative) are very good styles to use when providing direction; but they are not so good when we’re dealing with competent team members.  For that, we need to turn to two other styles: Affiliative and Democratic. [content_protector password=”sls-03″ identifier=”sls-03″]

Recall that there are six safety-leadership styles. They are: Coercive >> Authoritative >> Affiliative >> Democratic >> Pace-setting >> Coaching


The Affiliative style is foremost a relational style–people first! Their goal is to create harmony on the team, and their tendency is to promote relationships before tasks.

Now that’s a very good style to use when we have good, overall performance already in place and we’re dealing with routine tasks.  It’s not such a good style to use, however, for new employees or disciplinary situations.


The Democratic style is sort of the sibling style of Affiliative.  It’s a participative, “what do you think?” kind of style that’s very good for building owners through consensus.

The tendency is to get and use input when creating a vision and setting direction for the team.

Now this is a very useful style if your team is made up of knowledgeable members who get along well.  It’s, of course, not as useful if you have a non-cohesive team who can’t agree on just about anything.  It’s also not a very useful style to use if your team just makes bad decisions.

Be sure to view the video below for more information on these styles.  In our next issue we’ll look at the final two styles.  But that’s it for this edition of Recordable INSIGHTS. Until next time.



About the Author

Eric Svendsen
Eric Svendsen, Ph.D., is Principal and lead change agent for safetyBUILT-IN, a safety-leadership learning and development organization. He has over 20 years experience in creating and executing outcomes-based leadership development and culture change initiatives aligned to organizational goals, and he personally led the safety-culture initiatives of a number of client organizations that resulted in “best ever safety performance” years for those companies.