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What Do You Need to Know About Directive Leadership in 2024?

When we think of leadership, what comes to mind is which style of leadership we are looking for. In such cases, directive leadership is one of the four styles of leadership in which all the powers are undivided and highly centralized by the leader. It is mostly compared to autocracy as it reflects command and control. 

Today, many organizations are practicing directive leadership, which has advantages as well as disadvantages.  Here you will find how directive leadership works. 

What Is Directive Leadership?

Directive Leadership is a type of leadership where a chain of commands is passed down to subordinates by the leader at the top. In directive leadership, power is highly centralized with the leader. 

The Origin of the concept of Directive Leadership 

Directive leadership has been characterized by the Path-Goal theory by Robert House in 1971. According to the idea, a manager should set goals for the employees in directive leadership. He is solely responsible for establishing pathways for them to achieve the set objectives. They tell their followers what needs to be done. The following are the task of a directive leader described by the Path-Goal theory: 

  • Assign duties and responsibilities to employees
  • Set the criteria for profitable output
  • Remove hindrances in achieving the set objectives.

Is directive leadership different from direct leadership?

Both directive and direct leadership are styles of leadership, somehow similar but not identical. Directive leadership has been identified by the Path-Goal theory as a behavior style. On the other hand, direct leadership is the communication style of leadership. 

The Characteristics of Directive Leadership

Directive leaders avoid sharing their strategies and interests with the employees and maintained a defined distance. Their main objective is task orientation, setting boundaries, and strict management. The following are the characteristics that further explain how directive leaders are;

1) They Are Solely in Charge of Setting Objectives

Directive leaders are solely responsible for setting objectives in an organizational framework. Employees cannot challenge the commands of a directive leader.  

2) They Immediately Assert Their Authority

Once a directive leader takes charge of a team, he asserts authority immediately. Their leadership style is autocratic where they take all the necessary actions for the survival and victory of their company in the cooperate world.

3) They Establish Strict Protocols

The organizations where a directive leadership approach is followed,  establish strict protocols. Directive leaders set a code of conduct, which employees are bound to follow.

4) They Adhere to the Existing Hierarchy

A directive leader adores the enforced hierarchy which is the central part of the directive leadership style.  Hierarchical structure makes the directive leadership to do tasks more efficiently. 

Advantages of Directive Leadership 

1) Clear in Communication

One of the advantages of directive leadership is clarity in communication. The objectives and incentives of the organization are clearly outlined. Employees are clear about what the leader wants from them and what steps they have to follow to achieve the set objectives. No ambiguity leads to effective outcomes.

2) Provide Effective Structure

When a situation lacks direction, directive leaders provide structure. An effective structure increased the productivity and advancement of an organization and gives very little room for mistakes and confusion. 

3) Take Quick and Rational Decision

Directive Leadership

Directive leaders are rational thinkers. They quickly take decisions and new initiatives as they are independent in decision-making and don’t want others’ opinions. When an urgent problem that requires a quick solution happens in the organization, directive leaders know how to handle the failures and how to rise above the situation.

4) Facilitates Inexperienced Team Members 

One of the benefits of directive leadership is that they facilitate unskilled and inexperienced team members. They trained and educate them and make them able to perform their duties in the best ways.

5) Stabilize Hierarchical Institutions

Directive leadership cherishes the hierarchy in an organization. In directive leadership, the hierarchical structure is more stable as the directive leader is solely responsible for allocating employees the positions and the particular task. He stabilized the hierarchy in a better way.

6) Security and Safety 

One of the top preferences of directive leadership is security and safety which is driven by their set rules and regulations. This reduces workplace incidents and involved everyone’s safety. 

Disadvantages of Directive Leadership

1) Rely on the Team members

Directive leadership is at risk if the leader lacks adequate expertise and wholly depends on the employees’ expertise to achieve goals. Commanding employees and not working along with them can cause hindrances in achieving favorable results. 

2) Results in Micromanaging

Directive Leadership

In the business world, the micromanagement and autocracy of directive leadership are taken as a drawback. This type of leadership style does not provide confidence and freedom in the workplace. In such an environment, leaders did not gain the trust and respect of the employees. Whereas for effective leadership, trust in leadership is very important. 

3) Restrict Creativity and New Ideas

Directive leadership limits creativity and new ideas from employees. In this way, an organization does not take the benefits of adaptability and flexibility. This cause the creative team members limited and less autonomous.

4) Highly Dependent on One Person

Directive leaders need to be very strong as the whole company is dependent on their decisions and strategic planning. If directive leadership lacks sufficient expertise, chaos can happen which negatively impacts the reputation of the company in the cooperate world.

5) Reduces Sense of Engagement, Ownership, and Morale 

Directive Leadership

When employees are more accountable under directive leadership, it decreases their sense of ownership and reduces their morale as well as engagement. In such an environment, they are just performing duties allocated to them without any sense of ownership by the organization. Such behavior reduces the chances of high achievements. 

Where Is Directive Leadership Used? 

As per above mentioned the advantages and disadvantages of directive leadership’ here you can find where you can use directive leadership effectively: 

1) Unskilled Team Members:

If the team members are new to some task and are unskilled or inexperienced, directive leadership can be effectively applied there. In such a situation, directive leadership will provide guidance and direction. They will tell workers how to do tasks and in the long run, it will benefit employees working as while working they are learning as well. 

2) Emergency Situations: 

Directive leadership plays a significant role in an emergency situation. For instance, an urgent problem that requires a quick solution happens, and the directive leader can take decisions immediately and control the situation. He does not have to wait for the board of decision-makers to come and take decisions which requires a lot of time. So the sole role of directive leadership can save the company from big damages. 

3) This Is How It Needs to Be Done:

Directive leadership can be applied in “ this is how it needs to be” situations. In such situations, there is the only way to do the task with no alternative options. So, non-negotiable issues which follow specific policies required directive leadership to achieve favorable outcomes. 

How Do I Know if I’m a Directive Leader?

Directive Leadership

Following are the signs which show whether you are a directive leader or not: 

  • Are people are driven and supervised by you? If yes, then you are a directive leader. As you are controlling them and their duties.
  • If the chain of command and hierarchy is vital to you in running your organization, then you are a directive leader as a chain of command gives you a sense of stability.
  • If you don’t want interference in your decisions, this also shows you are a directive leader. As you are the only one who can take decisions, the rest have to follow those decisions. 
  • If you believe that work can be maximized by maximizing control, this is also one of the traits of directive leadership.

Here you can see the signs of exemplary leadership for long-term success.

How To Be a Directive Leader?

Sometimes, there are times when directive leadership is needed in an organization. Here are some steps you can take to be an effective directive leader;

Step 1: Take Charge of Everything

Directive leaders must possess the confidence to step in and lead when employees are unmotivated and need assistance. They are responsible for setting goals and showing the direction to employees to follow.

Step 2: Use Your Authority

It is important to assert your authority from start. If you feel hesitant in telling the guidelines and making a decision, this will show you are weak to your employees. Take all the decisions with confidence that you are the sole leader of the team.

Step 3: Follow the Code of Conduct

Unlike other styles of leadership, directive leadership runs on the protocols and code of conduct provided by the organization. Employees are obliged to follow the given protocol. If you want to be a directive leader. You have to be disciplined and respect the protocols of an organization. 

Directive Leadership POLICIES

Step 4: Believe In Your Ideas

Do not get ambiguous about your ideas. Stand firm with your ideas. When you are sure of your ideas this will give a defined approach to your employees what you want from them and they will work accordingly to execute those ideas successfully. 

Step 5: Hold Employees Accountable

For directive leadership organizations, structure and protocols are very crucial components. If you want to ensure that employees are working in accordance with the given instructions, you have to hold them accountable. A directive leadership style helps in following up and reviewing the work of employees and keeping them accountable. 

Step 6: Discourage New Ideas

If you want to be the sole leader of the company with a know-it-all personality, you have to discourage innovation. As in the directive leadership style, only the leader is responsible for taking any initiatives. 

Step 7: Establish Hierarchy

Directive leaders find value in the hierarchical structure of an organization. If you want to become a directive leader, you have to set a chain of command. The chain of the command shows the employee who is the leader. It also portrays that the leader is the only one who is designated to give orders and others have to follow those orders. 

Learn Effective Leadership with Best Diplomats 

Directive Leadership with Best Diplomats

With the Best Diplomats, you will be able to find which type of leadership skills you possess and how you can use them in better and more effective ways. If you are a directive leader, that’s great. Register yourself with the Best Diplomats to know how you can be enthusiastic and productive in directive leadership. 

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The articles contain both the advantages and drawbacks of directive leadership. When the emphasis is on protocols and performance, especially in critical issues, directive leadership provides an effective result. On the other hand, when the power is centralized and sense of inflexibility in the organization affects the morale and intentions of employees. However, you can take awareness about the pros and cons from the article which will help you decide, which traits you should adopt.


Is Directive leadership effective? 

This depends upon the need of the organization. If an organization has just started and requires specific standards, protocols, and stabilized hierarchy then a directive leader can do this job perfectly. A directive leader is a good choice for new setups. 

Should one practice directive leadership?

The simple answer is, No. Because today’s world is more globalized and interlinked.  Innovation and adaptability to new ideas is the need of the time. When employees are heard and they work in a friendly and cooperative environment, the organization works more efficiently.

Oleksandra Mamchii

Working as a academic lead at Best Diplomats.

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