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  • Writer's pictureKathy Miles

Being a Resonant Leader

The term Resonance comes from the Latin terms Resonantia which means echo and Resonare which means resound. Ultimately if you look up the word resonance in the dictionary you will see definitions around vibration, synchronisation, the power to evoke enduring images, memories and emotions.

The concept of resonant leadership is raised in Daniel Goleman's 2002 book, 'Primal Leadership'. In terms of leadership it means the ability to be an emotionally intelligent leader, one that is attuned to people's feelings and is able to positively influence them. Someone who makes people feel inspired and uplifted, guiding them in the right direction even during difficult times.

Resonant leaders have a high EQ (emotional quotient). They understand their own thoughts, feelings, behaviour, reactions etc, and they understand these things in other people. According to Goleman, they tend to focus on four distinct leadership styles, moving between them as needed:

  • Visionary: Visionary leadership involves moving people towards a shared vision/goal. They will continually remind employees of the larger purpose of their work, lending meaning to otherwise mundane tasks. Employees understand that their own best interests are served by being in synch with the shared vision and this in turn results in inspired work.​

  • Coaching: Coaching involves the leader taking a more one-on-one approach with employees by assisting them to improve their performance and build their long-term capabilities. The resonant leader will coach and mentor in a way that makes the other person feel comfortable and will assist the employee to connect their own progress to that of the organisations.​​

  • Affiliative: The affiliative style creates harmony by connecting people to each other. Team dynamics are the focus so a lot of time is spent building relationships and working on problems together.

  • Democratic: The democratic leadership style is about getting people involved with decision-making and problem solving. This style values group participation and collaboration and will seek the groups ideas and suggestions. This in turn creates buy-in and commitment from employees.

Ultimately Resonant Leadership is about striking the right chord with employees, a balance between their personal needs and productivity.

There are many links that have been made between an employee's commitment level and their intention to stay in the job. Employees can be committed to their leader, their team and the success of their organisation, but usually just one of these is enough to ensure that an employee remains satisfied in their role. Resonant leaders have a good understanding of this and aim for team members to commit to them. They encourage team members to be the best that they can be and strive to make a difference in their work.

As with all leadership styles, you are not continuously in one mode. Good leaders and those with high EQ's know that they need to change their style based on the situation. Resonant leaders just choose to use positive and inspiring leadership styles for the majority of the time.

PDI Solutions can assist in coaching and guiding your leadership team to become more resonant in their leadership style. Contact us today for a free consultation at or visit our website at

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