Affirming leaders (and Everything DiSC)

Affirming leaders (and Everything DiSC)

Continuing our examination of the 8 dimensions of leadership, we have reached the affirming  leader. We hope this listing of additional readings can extend your training and conversations through assignments, book groups, or lunch discussions about leadership. No matter what our own style of leadership, we all have something to learn from the styles that come more easily to others.

Affirming leadersWhat is an affirming leader?

As would be expected from the DiSC leadership label for this type, they tend to be positive, supportive, and approachable. You’re likely to see them as easy-going and cheerful, warm and sincere, and easy to talk to. You might also notice their distaste for conflict and  complex analysis.

Strengths of the affirming leader:

  • They tend to be friendly and approachable.
  • They’re often generous in their praise.
  • They’re able to consider the needs of different groups of people.
  • They’re less concerned with their own ego needs.
  • They tend to be optimistic.
  • They’re good at making people feel that they belong.
  • They’re able to see things from other perspectives.
  • They often come across as down-to-earth.

Goals: Ability to see good in others, warmth, approachability

Would increase effectiveness through: Acknowledging others’ flaws, confronting problems

—Source: The 8 Dimensions of Leadership

What can we learn from affirming leaders?

cartCurious about your own style? Take this quick leadership assessment.

Readings to support the affirming leadership style

During the  creation of Everything DiSC 363 for Leaders and Everything DiSC Work of Leaders and their corresponding books, Inscape Publishing’s authors and researchers reviewed a number of writings about leadership.  Here are a few they reference for descriptions, attitudes and skills of affirming leaders.

Links to and are for your convenience. We receive no remuneration for these links. Personality Profile Solutions, LLC, is an Everything DiSC – A Wiley brand – Partner.

The Leadership Challenge, by Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner
“The most genuine way to demonstrate that you care and are concerned about other people as human beings is to spend time with them. This shouldn’t be yet another business meeting; instead, plan on unstructured time …”

“It’s part of the leader’s job to show appreciation for people’s contributions and to create a culture of celebration.”

“Giving encouragement requires us to get close to people and show that we care. And because it’s more personal and positive than other forms of feedback, it’s more likely to accomplish something that other forms cannot: strengthening trust between leaders and constituents.”

The Handbook for Leaders, by Jack Zenger and Joe Folkman
“When conflicts arise, they deal with employees’ feelings as well as the technical aspects of the issue. They stay approachable.”

Execution: The discipline of getting things done, by Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan
“Making a personal connection has nothing to do with style. You don’t have to be charismatic or a salesperson. I don’t care what your personality is. But you need to show up with an open mind and a positive demeanor. Be informal, and have a sense of humor.”

What Leaders Really Do” by John Kottor
“Finally, good leaders recognize and reward success, which not only gives people a sense of accomplishment but also makes them feel like they belong to an organization that cares about them. When this is done, the work itself becomes intrinsically motivating.”

Winning, by Jack Welch
Rule #8 is “Leaders celebrate.”

Successful Executive’s Handbook, by Susan Gebelein, et al
“Imagine people at their best and help them visualize their potential. Assume that others are acting with the highest motives.”

Additional reading

Encouraging the Heart: A Leader’s Guide to Rewarding and Recognizing Others, by James M. Kouzes, Barry Z. Posner

5 Habits of Genuinely Appreciative Leaders, FastCompany
“The most grateful leaders have deep memories and grand ambitions, but they don’t sell the present moment short.”

Why the Empathetic Leader Is the Best Leader,
“Empathy—the ability to recognize and share other people’s feelings—is the most important instrument in a leader’s toolbox, Sinek believes. It can be expressed in the simple words, ‘Is everything OK’”

Three Ways Leaders Can Listen with More Empathy, Harvard Business Review
“Among its benefits, empathetic listening builds trust and respect, enables people to reveal their emotions–including tensions, facilitates openness of information sharing, and creates an environment that encourages collaborative problem-solving.”

Why Empathy Is The Force That Moves Business Forward, Forbes
“Without growth and innovation, businesses stagnate and eventually fade away. Those with staying power, however, have mastered an intangible, often overlooked factor that allows them to focus on the future with clarity: empathy.”

Since this type of leader can be conflict-adverse, we also recommend When Your Boss Is Too Nice and The Problem with Being Too Nice, HBR Blog Network


Do you have any additional readings to add to this list?


by Kristeen Bullwinkle and the team
Updated October 2018



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