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

Mashum Mollah 8 May, 2023
Telling Leadership Style

We cannot talk about telling leadership style by first elaborating upon the Situational leadership style.

The authors of two popular books, “The Situational Leader” by Dr. Paul Hersey and “One-Minute Manager” by Kenneth Blanchard, created the baseline for the situational leadership style. Telling leadership style is one of the four primary leadership styles propagated in the Hersey-Blanchard leadership style.

Different workspaces and leading organizations often incorporate a specific leadership style. So who is telling leadership? Once you go through this article, you will learn about telling leadership and what it stands for.


What Is Telling Leadership Style?

What Is Telling Leadership Style?

Telling leadership style is a high task, low behavior, and the lowest leadership style. This leadership style works for followers and employees who are inexperienced and easily intimidated.

These employees require direct instruction from their leaders, so this leadership style is called “Directing” or “telling leadership style”. The followers in this leadership style are characterized by high commitment and low competence.

These followers and employees require instructions, and they are often unable to comply and possibly feel insecure occasionally. Leaders using and incorporating this leadership style should focus and be willing to provide directions and instructions.

What Is The Objective Of Telling Leadership Style?

Telling or directing style of leadership style is a short-term approach toward new recruits or followers in an organization or workspace. Leaders often incorporate this leadership style to create movement among their followers.

The main objective of this leadership style is to help the followers who lack the specific skills or confidence necessary for getting them to act.

The leaders help the followers with instructions regarding what to do and how to do it. Leaders also need to be present beside the follower when they are following those guidelines. The followers need the leaders’ recognition or reinforcement, which is why the leader’s presence is necessary.

Click Here To Know About The Types Of Leadership Styles

Characteristics Of Telling Leadership Style

Here are some of the characteristics of Directing leadership style –

1. Providing Instructions

Providing Instructions

Followers in a telling leadership style need instructions to accomplish the assigned tasks. Directions are necessary since the followers need more skills or confidence to perform the expected task. They need instructions regarding when to perform a task, how to do it, where to do it, and what task they have to perform.

2. Defining Necessary Actions

Defining Necessary Actions

Telling or directing leadership style defines the action that needs to be performed. The followers need specific descriptions of the task and how to perform it.

3. One Way Communication

One Way Communication

leaders following the Telling leadership style are often the only ones to talk or communicate with their followers. Communication remains one way, meaning the followers only listen to what the leader has to say.

4. Decision Making

Decision Making

In telling leadership style, the inexperienced followers are the ones to make decisions for the organization or the team. The followers don’t contribute enough since they only have to follow instructions.

5. Close & Minute Supervision

 Close & Minute Supervision

Close and minute supervision of the task followers are supposed to carry out is another characteristic of this type of leadership style. Leaders are often supposed to ask questions regarding the follower’s understanding of their instructions.

When To Follow Telling leadership Style? 

Telling or directing leadership style is effective and necessary in some specific situations. 

Here are some of the cases when this leadership style becomes necessary –

  1. Telling leadership style is necessary when the followers are not performing the task that they are supposed to at a level they are expected to. This can be during the beginning of their career or in the middle when they are underperforming.
  2. Sometimes the task the members of an organization are supposed to complete might be intimidating. This is when Telling leadership style is important.
  3. Followers and members of the organization may often require clarity about their assigned tasks. That is when directing leadership method might be useful. Clear instruction or direction about the task can provide the followers with the clarity they want to perform with.
  4. Sometimes the followers need to be pushed. Sometimes they may lack the spar or the responsibility to carry out their assigned task. This is when the telling leadership style can come in handy. It will stop the followers from procrastinating and push them to carry out their tasks.
  5. Telling leadership is also necessary for employees who become defensive when they are asked about their tasks.

How To Perform Telling Leadership Style?

Telling or directing leadership style works specifically on followers or employees who are new or novices. For example, a manager can walk up to a new recruit and give instructions on how to proceed with their daily task. This is positive execution of directing leadership style.

However, this does not apply in the same positive way for a tenured employee within an organization. When a manager instructs an old or tenured employee the same way (as with the new employee), it sets a negative example of exercising directing leadership style.

Advantages Of Telling Leadership Style

Here are some of the advantages of the telling leadership style –

  • The leader can ensure that the work is carried out through his directions. This makes accomplishing any task quicker.
  • This leadership style works best during a crisis when a task needs to be carried out through strategic steps.
  • Decision-making is easier thanks to the one-way communication of the leader.
  • Directing leadership style offers a rapid solution to any problem.

Disadvantages Of Telling Leadership Style

Here are some of the disadvantages of this type of leadership style –

  • This leadership style does not develop autonomy among the members of the organization.
  • The followers are not encouraged to do strategic thinking or be creative.
  • This leadership style may fail if the leader is not confident and clear in their decisions.
  • The leadership style becomes detrimental if the follower/employee is more skilled and knowledgeable than the boss.

Bottom Line

Telling leadership style is a great short-term approach to handling a new team or a new set of employees. Directions and instructions only work when an employee is new to the kind of work they are doing. Once the followers are accustomed to the rules, operations, and processes needed to achieve a task, the leader must switch to a different leadership style that suits the organization and the followers.

Please let us know what you think of this article. We have gathered all the necessary information you were looking for on this topic. However, if you are doubtful about anything related to the topic, let us know through the comment section.

Read Also:

4.7 3 votes
Article Rating

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.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x