Expressive Leaders - Definition and Characteristics

What are expressive leaders? And how do you become an expressive leader? Under expressive leadership, employees that work in a team and frequently complete group initiatives can prosper. A communicative leader works diligently to develop relationships with and among employees in order to guarantee that everyone feels safe, motivated, and supported in a collaborative atmosphere.

expressive leaders

What does it mean to be an expressive leader?

An expressive leader is a manager who places a premium on developing relationships with all team members, including themselves and their direct reports. Expressive leaders cultivate friendships and strong ties with their employees in order to ensure that everyone feels encouraged, driven, and appreciated. This enables the team to remain collaborative, productive, and efficient while contributing to the organization's success.

Numerous expressive leaders believe in keeping open contact with employees by doing one-on-one performance reviews on a regular basis, allocating resources as needed for specific projects, and aiding employees with difficult job items or challenges.

Additionally, expressive leaders facilitate team-building workshops to assist employees in growing, developing, and improving as a group. Employees who work on a team with an expressive leader generally feel comfortable asking for assistance and support on projects from their manager or other team members.

expressive leaders

Definition of expressive leader

A leader who is focused on the act and process of work completed as well as the group members' emotional well-being.

Difference between instrumental leaders and expressive leaders

Instrumental leaders have a goal-oriented perspective, which motivates them to make deadlines and vigorously urge subordinates to adhere to them. Instrumental leadership is frequently more concerned with productivity and efficiency than with communication or team building. Many managers adopt an instrumental leadership style when they are forced to complete several projects on a consistent basis while adhering to severe deadlines.

Instrumental leaders are typically more concerned with the functional completion of duties than with offering and fostering emotional support among their team members. Typically, they communicate solely to give deadlines and provide brief feedback on employees' performance.

Instead, expressive leaders utilize communication as their primary tool to motivate people to push themselves, set and achieve professional objectives, and offer emotional support to employees who are discouraged or confused. The most expressive leaders are more concerned with people feeling supported and confident in their ability to perform tasks efficiently than with imposing hard deadlines.

expressive leaders

What are democratic leaders?

Democratic leadership also referred to as participative leadership, is about including a diverse group of individuals in decision-making. This kind of leadership is evident in a variety of settings, from businesses to schools to government.

What are authoritarian leaders?

Authoritarian leadership is exhibited when a leader dictates policies and procedures, determines the objectives to be accomplished, and commands and controls all actions without involving subordinates meaningfully. Such a leader maintains complete control over the team, allowing for little autonomy within the group.

The characteristics of expressive leaders

Along with basic leadership talents, expressive leaders must possess positive and inspiring characteristics that inspire their team members to thrive and flourish. Typical characteristics of expressive leaders include the following:


Numerous expressive leaders emphasize the critical nature of relationships between team members and management. They'll conduct an analysis of their team's interactions in order to identify strategies for employees to connect with one another, increase internal communications, and foster an encouraging environment among team members.

Adaptable to change

There may be times when a supervisor establishes a deadline and the employee struggles to comprehend or complete the task. Rather than enforcing the deadline regardless, an expressive leader may be willing to adjust it and extend it until the employee has complete knowledge of the assignment and all the resources necessary to complete a quality product.


The most expressive leaders encourage team members to collaborate actively, particularly on group initiatives. This encourages employees to seek assistance from one another when they become stuck on an assignment or fall behind on a task.


Because expressive leaders form great relationships with their employees, they frequently collaborate with them to develop career goals and strategies for achieving them. Additionally, they aid in the development of employees' talents by assigning them demanding tasks to accomplish or difficult problems to solve, while also providing assistance and support as needed.


Expressive leaders connect with their staff on a regular basis and encourage them to seek assistance when necessary. They'll meet with employees on a regular basis to discuss their progress and areas for development on specific assignments or aspects of their role. This enables people to advance and develop professionally.


Most expressive leaders place a high premium on teamwork and may engage in regular team-building exercises. They may also arrange group sessions to encourage team members to brainstorm ideas and provide valuable feedback to one another.

How to develop into an expressive leader

To be an expressive leader, you should leverage your strengths to listen to employees' concerns, settle team conflicts, and promote member engagement. To develop into an excellent expressive leader, follow these steps:

Recognize your leadership strengths

Prior to mentoring and encouraging team members, you should assess your own leadership qualities. If you're an expert at motivating team members, you can utilize these to motivate staff to improve their job performance and skillsets.

Additionally, you may possess good organizational and time management abilities that you may utilize to develop goals for staff based on their abilities and career interests. Once you have a firm grasp on your leadership abilities, you may use them to motivate your team to achieve success.

Attend to and address the requirements of employees

Individually meet with employees to discuss their career aspirations. Inquire about any assistance or advice you may provide to assist them in meeting these goals or doing better in their role. Once you've identified your employees' needs, you may locate resources or provide direction to assist them in improving and performing to their full potential.

Demonstrating concern for their needs also boosts their job happiness and motivates them to produce more meaningful work to you. Additionally, this increases employees' confidence in seeking assistance, which provides them with the necessary information and resources to complete high-quality, well-crafted job assignments.

Foster collaboration

A critical component of effective expressive leadership is cultivating a collaborative culture among all employees. Explain to team members why it is critical for them to collaborate on complex projects. This increases staff comfort with one another and results in higher-quality assignments.

Support employees to encourage one another in other situations as well, such as meetings. Instruct employees to be respectful of others' contributions and to ensure that all employees feel heard and valued for their thoughts or efforts.

Arrange for one-on-one encounters

Conduct one-on-one meetings with employees to discuss their job performance and any requirements they may have to do better in their roles. Regular one-on-one meetings help employees feel heard and create a safe setting for them to communicate their opinions and concerns.

Give them constructive feedback on their work performance. For instance, if you observe an aspect of their role that they may improve upon, be specific and suggest detailing steps they could take to do so. Along with providing evaluation on their performance, solicit suggestions from them on your own. This demonstrates to employees that you are committed to personal development and providing a positive workplace experience.

What is an example of an expressive leader?

Expressive leaders are more concerned with fostering emotional strength and wellness, as well as ensuring that others feel supported. Rabbis, priests, imams, and administrators of juvenile institutions and social service programs are frequently viewed as expressive leaders.

Social and religious leaders are the most common types of expressive leaders that every man and woman experiences. They oversee maintaining group cohesion, while not practicing authoritarian leadership style, simply because their presentation format doesn't allow for it.

Do employees and people appreciate expressive leaders?

Contrary to popular belief, Boatwright and Forrest (2000) discovered that both men and women prefer leaders who combine expressive and instrumental leadership styles.

What are the 4 types of leaders?

The four types of leadership styles can be described as:

  • Autocratic or authoritarian leaders.
  • Democratic or participative leaders.
  • Laissez-faire or free-rein leaders.
  • Paternalistic leaders.

Am I more of an instrumental leader or an expressive leader?

The majority of leaders are either expressive or instrumental, however, others strike a compromise between these two extremes. A charismatic leader places a premium on group harmony and emotional stability. When driving employees toward goals, an instrumental leader uses a more task-oriented approach.

author: patrick algrim
About the author

Patrick Algrim is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW), NCDA Certified Career Counselor (CCC), and general career expert. Patrick has completed the NACE Coaching Certification Program (CCP). And has been published as a career expert on Forbes, Glassdoor, American Express, Reader's Digest, LiveCareer, Zety, Yahoo,, SparkHire,,, FairyGodBoss,, St. Edwards University, NC State University,, Thrive Global,, Work It Daily, Workology, Career Guide, MyPerfectResume, College Career Life, The HR Digest, WorkWise, Career Cast, Elite Staffing, Women in HR, All About Careers, Upstart HR, The Street, Monster, The Ladders, Introvert Whisperer, and many more. Find him on LinkedIn.

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