Expressive Leaders: Definition and How To Become One

An expressive leader is a manager who focuses on building relationships between all team members, including themselves and their employees. Expressive leaders work to build friendships and strong relationships with employees to ensure all team members feel supported, motivated and appreciated.

The work group’s morale and its members’ emotional well-being, in the opinion of an expressive leader, have a significant bearing on the success of the group. Consequently, the expressive leader places special emphasis on helping employees emotionally. This support includes proactively coaching staff members to help them perform better and taking the time to inquire about their concerns. Aside from that, charismatic leaders organize and direct team-building exercises. The idea is that if a leader genuinely cares about them as people, then workers will commit to the work group.

The term “expressive leader” was used in the book “The Work of Leaders” to describe a supervisor who is sincere and forthcoming with staff members. When a leader is described as “expressive,” it means that they engage with their team in an open manner as opposed to drawing a distinction between managers and workers within the company or team. The team leader must frequently participate directly in team activities in order to foster group harmony.

Instrumental leaders tend to take a very goal-oriented approach. They feel most comfortable with predetermined objectives and deadlines. Their leadership is largely focused on making sure the work group achieves its objectives by the deadline. The band’s instrumental leader prioritizes practical production over morale-boosting and harmonies. The main purposes of communication are to give employees direction and to get feedback on how their work is going. Instead of considering morale and emotional comfort, team roles are assigned based on employee capabilities.

A major element of the leader-worker relationship is performance updates. A good instrumental leader regularly assesses the development of their team. According to the Connective Leadership Institute, these leaders frequently see their team members as “instruments” for achieving organizational or work group objectives. There is always a chance that staff won’t feel like they can relate to managers who use an instrumental leadership style. However, astute instrumental leaders understand the value of developing a personal rapport with employees.

Naturally Expressive Leaders

Expressive vs instrumental leadership

Because they are goal-oriented, instrumental leaders set deadlines and actively encourage their team members to meet them. Instead of focusing on communication or teamwork, instrumental leadership typically emphasizes the importance of productivity and efficiency. If they must consistently complete numerous projects by a set deadline, many managers adopt an instrumental leadership style.

The functional completion of tasks is typically what instrumental leaders are concerned with, not offering and promoting emotional support amongst their team. They typically only use communication to brief employees on their work performance and assign deadlines.

Instead, expressive leaders use communication as their primary tool to motivate staff to work hard, set and achieve career goals, and provide emotional support when they feel defeated or confused. The most engaging leaders care more about their team members’ sense of support and confidence in their ability to complete their work than they do about imposing rigid deadlines.

What is an expressive leader?

A manager who places a strong emphasis on developing relationships with both themselves and their staff members is known as an expressive leader. To ensure that every team member feels supported, motivated, and appreciated, expressive leaders work to forge strong bonds with their team members. This enables the team to continue working together, being productive, and being effective as they provide valuable work to the organization.

Many expressive leaders support open communication with staff by holding frequent one-on-one performance reviews, providing resources when necessary for particular projects, and assisting staff with challenging work items or issues.

Team-building exercises are also taught by expressive leaders to aid in the growth, improvement, and unity of their workforce. When an expressive team leader is in charge, all team members typically feel at ease asking their manager or fellow team members for advice and support on projects.

Traits of expressive leaders

Expressive leaders need to possess more than just the fundamentals of leadership in order to inspire their team members to succeed and develop as a unit. Common traits expressive leaders typically hold include:


Many engaging leaders stress the value of forging bonds with team members and managers. They’ll examine their team’s interactions to see how they relate to one another, find ways to enhance internal communications, and create a supportive environment for team members.

Open to change

There may be times when a boss sets a deadline but the worker has trouble comprehending or finishing the task. An expressive leader might be willing to change the deadline and extend it until the worker fully understands the assignment and has access to all the resources necessary to deliver a high-quality project, rather than enforcing it anyhow.


The most engaging team leaders encourage close collaboration, especially when working on group projects. As a result, workers are more likely to approach one another for assistance when they are stuck on a task or behind schedule.


Since they have close relationships with their team members, expressive leaders frequently collaborate closely with them to establish career goals and devise plans for achieving them. Additionally, they assist in the improvement of employees’ skills by giving them difficult tasks to complete or complex problems to solve while also providing advice and support when necessary.


Communicating openly with staff members on a regular basis and encouraging them to seek assistance when necessary They’ll hold ongoing one-on-one meetings with staff to talk about how they’re doing and any areas where they can improve. This helps employees grow and improve in their careers.


The most engaging leaders place a high value on teamwork and frequently engage in team-building activities. They might also hold team meetings where they encourage brainstorming and constructive criticism from one another.

How to become an expressive leader

Use your skills to listen to employees’ needs, address any team issues, and promote cooperation among team members if you want to be an expressive leader. Follow these steps to become a great expressive leader:

1. Understand your strengths as a leader

Before you can start coaching and inspiring your team, you should assess your own leadership skills. Use these to encourage staff members to enhance their job performance and develop their skill sets if you’re good at inspiring team members.

You may also possess excellent time management and organizational skills, which you can use to create goals for workers based on their abilities and career interests. You can use your leadership abilities to get your team to produce successful results once you have a clear understanding of them.

2. Listen to and address employees needs

Meet with employees individually to discuss their career goals. Ask them how you can help them achieve these objectives or excel in their role by offering support or advice. Once you are aware of what your staff members need, you can find resources or provide advice to help them develop and deliver their best work.

Additionally, demonstrating your concern for their needs makes them feel more fulfilled in their position and motivated to provide you with more worthwhile work. Additionally, it increases employees’ self-confidence when seeking assistance, which enables them to obtain the knowledge and materials they need to produce high-quality, well-crafted work assignments.

3. Encourage collaboration

Creating a collaborative environment among all employees is essential for effective expressive leadership. Explain to the team members the importance of supporting one another during difficult projects. This improves interpersonal relationships among staff members and results in higher-quality work.

Encourage colleagues in meetings and other situations as well. Tell staff to be polite when others speak, and make sure everyone feels heard and valued for their ideas and contributions.

4. Hold one-on-one meetings

Engage staff in one-on-one conversations to discuss their work efforts and any needs they may have for enhancing their performance in their roles. Regular one-on-one meetings give staff members a sense of being heard and give them a comfortable space to share their opinions and concerns.

Provide valuable feedback on their work performance. For instance, be specific and think about outlining steps for them to take if you see a part of their role that they need to work on. In addition to providing them with feedback regarding their performance, seek their opinions on your own. This shows staff members you’re dedicated to developing yourself and giving them a better working environment.


What is an example of an expressive leader?

Conversely, expressive leaders are more focused on fostering emotional health and strength and making sure that others feel supported. Rabbis, priests, imams, and directors of youth homes and social service programs are among the social and religious leaders who are frequently viewed as expressive leaders.

What are the 4 types of leader?

In conclusion, there are two main categories of group leaders: instrumental and expressive While leaders who are predominately expressive concentrate on preserving group cohesion and ensuring the group’s overall well-being, leaders who are predominately instrumental concentrate on accomplishing goals and finishing tasks.

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