There are different leadership styles, but one of the most common types is directive leadership, where the leader tells his subordinates exactly what to do and how to do it. Different ideas, projects and tasks are often initiated by a leader, but the responsibility of carrying out these tasks is then transferred to team members or other staff. It is also a leader’s responsibilities to specify standards, parameters and deadlines.
Directive leadership is often compared with autocratic style, which is necessary for victory and survival in the armed forces. In a corporate setting, directive leadership often excludes employees and other members of the organization from giving suggestions or feedback, which is why it is only applicable in certain situations. This type of leadership is only suitable when heading a group of staff members who not specialize on certain aspects of a business, or requires guidance to avoid problems or uncertainties.
Directive Leadership Approach
1. You take charge of everything.
Didn’t they say that if you want something done right you have to do it yourself? This phrase has never been truer under the circumstances. As a descriptive leader, you take full responsibility in determining the goals that your team must achieve and then provide the steps necessary to reach the planned results. Once you’ve established the steps involved in a particular task or project, people would rarely question your decision, especially because you would not allow it. Whether or not changes are necessary is entirely up to you.
2. You assert your authority even from the start.
When tasked to lead a team, you don’t hesitate in stepping up and establishing your authority. You are a leader who will take charge without the need for a lot of convincing. Once your authority is established, you then go ahead in delegating tasks and holding team members’ accountable right from the start. So from the outset, your staff knows that you are the head of the team and they will do whatever you tell them to do.
3. You follow a proven set of standards.
Most of the strategies you use are those that have been proven to work before, or based on a written protocol. No creativity is required, and you don’t make an effort to develop new techniques that will provide the same results. Why fix what isn’t broken, right? What matters is that tasks will be completed and the intended outcome is achieved, regardless if the strategy used is old or even outdated.
4. You believe that members of your team need direction.
Whether you micromanage everything or not, you will not rest until you have provided specific instructions to team members, because it is your belief that they need direction. Without your strict supervision, the project would not be completed on time or according to your plan. So apart from providing instructions and supervising your team, you also make it a point to constantly follow up on whatever your subordinates are doing.
5. You consider subordinates as less motivated.
As a directive leader, you take full responsibility of particular projects or tasks and their success rests solely on your shoulders, because none of the members of your team is motivated enough. Without you breathing down their necks, no project will be completed. You are the light that illuminates their path, and the arrow that provides them with the right directions.
6. You are very particular about routines, accountability and predictability.
Many may view a descriptive leadership style to be too authoritative and smothering, but it is critical where structure and organization is concerned. Because you want everything to follow a routine and a plan, you create a structured and organized process for everyone to follow. You even make it a point to know who is doing what for the good of a particular project. You ensure accountability, and value the idea of being able to measure and gauge performance levels of every team member.
7. You value a strict set of controls.
The more in control a descriptive leader is the more productive he will be. This is because he has more confidence of achieving the final results, considering that he was solely responsible for setting things in motion. The set of controls he employs pushes the project forward with the best momentum.
8. You value stability.
You choose to take on a challenge or project that has few variables that you need to consider. You are more comfortable taking charge when the conditions are stable. If there are problems, it could be just a few risks, or market volatility in particular.
9. You do not exercise flexibility.
Your main goal is to assign tasks to meet specific goals or complete a particular project using strategies with a proven track record. Taking an innovative approach to tackle certain tasks is the least of your concerns. Again, there’s no need to change what has worked in the past. You do not concern yourself with adaptability as well.
10. You love the established hierarchy.
Without rigid hierarchy, you will be unable to effectively delegate tasks and perform your job as a descriptive leader. This is why you value and follow the chain of command that is needed for you to achieve your goal. Being a leader naturally comes to you, and you strictly take care of your responsibilities.
Based on the information above, using a directive leadership style is not for everyone. It doesn’t apply on all situations either. In fact, experts strongly advice that this type of leadership should only be used in military settings, and not in a corporate environment. This is because the culture in most organizations revolves around sharing and giving feedback, something that a descriptive leader may not fully appreciate. Companies also value suggestions coming from employees, especially those that can help improve an organization as a whole.
Being a descriptive leader may also alienate you with your staff or other employees. Micromanaging, after all, is not something people are receptive about, and can have a negative effect. This is because it is often perceived as lacking trust and faith in the ability of team members.