What Is Directive Leadership Style? Definition, Example Pros And, Cons

Mashum Mollah 15 November, 2022
Directive Leadership Style

I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.

– Jimmy Dean

So, is that it? Does directive style of leading an organization is all about adjusting the sails? Or does it change the direction of the wind?

Knowing about directive leadership comes with three simple steps. First, you ask what is directive leadership style, then you know about the characteristics, and then you ask, is it even appropriate to use this leadership style in today’s workspace?

The directive style of leadership works with a clear objective and well-defined expectations from the members, which are carried out following definitive guides and directions from the leaders. So, on the naked surface, it looks like a command-and-follow type of leadership. 

However, judging a leadership style without completely understanding its characteristics and applications would be a mistake. Therefore, this article will help you analyze, learn from and adopt a directive leadership style within your organization. 


What Is A Directive Leadership Style?

What Is A Directive Leadership Style?

Directive leadership style is A highly centralized and undivided style of leadership based on commands and directives. The leaders adopting this leadership style keep the expectations from their team transparent. Members have to follow clearly defined rules to fulfill their objectives. 

Directive leaders not only set expectations and rules but also demonstrate how to fulfill the company objective. They provide coaching and guidance and help mitigate obstacles in attaining the goal. Members can also expect a reward upon achieving the goal assigned to them. 

This leadership style can be applied in an organization where most of the workforce are novices and unskilled. However, this leadership style can have negative effects if imposed upon an experienced or skilled group of employees. 

The command and follow style of this leadership style somewhat resembles the characteristics of the autocratic leadership style. However, a purely autocratic or directive style of leadership might be negative for 21st-century workforces. 

However, if balanced well with supportive behavior and humility, some organizations can really benefit from the directive style of leadership style. 

Background/History Of Directive Leadership Style

Background/History Of Directive Leadership Style

The directive style of leadership style owes its credit to Martin G. Evan, the person who innovated this leadership style in the 1970s. Evan based this leadership style on his path-goal theory. 

According to this theory, Evan explained that leaders have to set goals for the members to follow. They also have to define the way to achieve the shared goal. The goal and the way to achieve it are transparently defined in this leadership model. The members only have to follow them. 

Initially, Evan worked with Robert J. House to develop this leadership style. However, the theory was updated later, in 1996. First, employers create and share the objective with the members. Then, they constantly come up with ways to motivate the employees to accomplish this goal. They also set a reward system for accomplishing the goal within the given time. 

Characteristics Of Directive Leadership

Although it may seem invisible, a command chain similar to the bureaucratic leadership style remains in a directive leadership model. But both cannot be mixed up. The characteristics of these leadership styles will help you not to mistake one for the other. 

1. Clear Direction And Guidance

Zig Ziglar

The directive leadership style is mostly about providing the employees with directions, offering them guidance and coaching for the achievement of the collective goal. They clearly outline member responsibilities, roles, objectives, tasks, and sub-tasks.  

2. Setting Clear Goals

Les Brown

They are very accurate about creating and setting a business goal. Since they take it upon themselves to create and set the goals for the employees to follow, they are very accurate and well thought about them. They make the objectives, rules, and regulations clear to the followers. 

3. Ensuring Accuracy  

Wyatt Earp

Directive leaders focus on efficient performance. Directive leaders tend to eliminate the mistakes that consume lots of valuable time. They set a standard and define a way to achieve the collective goal – hence they aim for peak accuracy. 

4. Reward System

 Ted Engstrom

Members working under the directive leaders are rewarded upon their accomplishment within the said time. 

Directive Leadership Style: What’s Good…And What’s Not So Good?

Certain aspects of this leadership style look positive and adaptable within an organization. However, certain aspects foreshadow adverse effects. So, should you adopt this leadership style within your organization or not? You can find that out from the pros and cons explained here. 

The Benefits Of Directive Leadership Style: Pros

  • Clear communication is a big advantage within an organization following a directive leadership style. It makes the objective, the means to achieve it, and the rewards upon the achievement clear. 
  • Better regulation and structure make running the organization easy with a directive leadership style. The leaders have offered direction, and the members are privy to them and good at following them. 
  • Inexperienced workers can master their skills working in an organization that operates directly. They can outperform themselves and improve. 
  • The directive leader is charged with making all the decisions. So, making any prompt decision does not have to go through tedious meetings and arguments. 

The Disadvantages Of Directive Leadership Style: Cons

  • For a directive leadership style, a leader needs to have peak confidence in setting goals, paving the way to achieve them, and making decisions. This leadership style might fail without adequate skills and expertise in handling subordinates. 
  • If an organization requires teamwork or collaborative effort across projects, this leadership style will be counterproductive. 
  • This leadership style makes a micromanager out of the leader following this model. 
  • Directive leadership is not great for an organization housing expert employees. Employees may not always follow directions. Unless the leaders empathize or connect to the employees emotionally, they might retaliate, and the organization may fall apart.

Click Here To Read Out Coaching Leadership Style

Directive Leadership Style: Case Studies (Examples)

Here are two examples or case studies of the directive style of leadership-

1. Martha Stewart

Martha Stewart

Martha Stewart, a fashion entrepreneur, is an example of a directive leader. Her business is built around print media, retail sales, and broadcasting. Her brand is based on all the aesthetics and ideas she comes up with. So, she is a pretty directive about each of the decisions. The directive leadership style has brought her success in business. 

2. Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs is an unfathomable personality who adopted various leadership styles in his organization. He co-founded and made his effects last long in the tech brand known as Apple. He always made his presence felt in the organization and involved himself in getting things done. Many employees also have memories of him being difficult to work alongside. However, the success Apple has gained is undeniable. 

How To Develop A Directive Leadership Style?

Developing any leadership has to start with understanding and implementing the characteristics of the style in the organization. Here are some practices you need to keep in mind –

1. Take Charge And Be Dependable

Take Charge And Be Dependable

As a directive leader, you have to take charge, clearly point out the goal, and define the rules and responsibilities. Unless you take charge or show the courage to direct, members will have time to depend on or follow you.

2. Show Authority Over Work

Show Authority Over Work

As a directive leader, you have to express the sense of having authority over what you direct. You can set goals and assign tasks to people irrespective of their opinions and hold them accountable for their actions.

However, showing a lack of emotions and an autocratic authority will make the workforce backfire on you. So, even though you have to take charge and be authoritative, you should show emotional support towards the employees.

3. Follow Pre-established Goals & Paths

Follow Pre-established Goals & Paths

You should establish a standard for performance and create and follow a path to achieve the organization’s goals as a directive leader. Following your path should motivate and inspire the organization’s members to follow you.

4. Offer Guidance

Offer Guidance

A directive leader is a guide and coach who helps the organization members improve their skills and capacity. You should help them mitigate obstacles and overcome risks to achieve the company goal. A directive leader also appreciates the employees’ achievements and offers a reward. So, you should remember to keep at it.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

I think you have found all the information about the Directive style of leadership here. Here are some additional questions and answers regarding the same.

Q1. Why Is Directive Leadership Important?

The directive leadership style has many pros and cons. Although the negative sides may seem more intense, the positive sides of this leadership style should not be overlooked. It offers an organization a proper structure and helps create an efficient work environment out of inexperienced employees. Also, its foolproof planning offers accuracy, security, and safety.

Q2. Who Is A Directive Leader?

A directive leader creates and sets a goal, outlines the team’s responsibilities, and offers the members instructions on how to achieve a goal. Directive leaders also offer appreciation and rewards to their members.

Q3. What Is The Goal Of Directive Leadership?

A directive leadership style accomplishes a goal through constant instruction and guidance. Their main objective is to attain a collective goal by instructing a group of members to follow a clearly defined path.

Is Directive Leadership Style Effective? 

Yes, the effectiveness of the Directive leadership style depends upon the company’s workforce, the leader they have appointed, and how realistic the goal is. This leadership style will work if applied to an inexperienced group of employees. However, if implemented by an experienced team, it may return devastating results.

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Mashum Mollah

Mashum Mollah is a tech entrepreneur by profession and passionate blogger by heart. He is on a mission to help small businesses grow online. He shares his journey, insights, and experiences in this blog. If you are an entrepreneur, digital marketing professional, or simply an info-holic, then this blog is for you.

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