Five Styles of Leadership: Directive Leadership

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Directive leadership is similar to the autocratic style of leadership where the leader tells the subordinate what to do, and how to do it.

The leader initiates the ideas, projects and tasks and gives the responsibility of completing these tasks to the subordinate, and usually telling them how to do it as well, specifying standards, deadlines and parameters.

They exercise firm rules and expect their subordinates to work within the boundaries set by the leader or the organization.

This kind of leaders are usually found in more traditional and long standing companies in countries that respect seniority and experience. Some examples will be China and Japan.

Also, they are found in most countries’ military. As mentioned in autocratic leadership, directive leaders are absolutely necessary for survival and victory in the armed forces.

In the corporate world, directive leadership means that employees are not required to give their suggestions or feedback. They are mainly judged by how well they do the tasks that have been assigned to them.

This has its disadvantages because the unique perspectives or talents of individual employees cannot be maximized. For most employees who feel stifled and unfulfilled, they may even talk behind the leader’s back instead of confronting for fear of repercussions.

Should I Use Directive Leadership?

The short answer is no, unless you are in the military.

In most cultures now, organizations value feedback from their employees and want to hear from them about how to improve the organization as a whole. You’ll want the same from your team.

While some decisions have to be directive, most can be discussed and left open for a vote.

Bass and Colleagues Other Styles Of Leadership

» Consultative leadership style
The consultative leader seeks the counsel of the whole team before making a decision on what the team should do. He is also task oriented, but he seeks the opinion of his followers as well.

» Participative leadership style
The participative leader puts himself as a member of the team and discusses possible decisions with the team. He seeks consensus before coming to a decision and everyone is supposed to take ownership in the final decision.

» Negotiative leadership style
The negotiative leader employs a more political approach to leadership. He has a personal interest in his decisions and he uses incentives to entice his followers to do certain things.

» Delegative leadership style
He takes back seat toward decision making, and allows his team to take their own course of action. He only sits down together with the team to discuss possible decisions that could be adopted.

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