Directive Leadership

Key Idea

If you are being managed by a directive leader, you will likely know what you need to do and even how to do it. The directive leader is adept at giving instructions, setting expectations, and establishing timelines and performance standards. So what’s the downside? The directive leader usually aims to restrict or limit the creativity or initiative of the follower. This style of leadership avoids collaborating or empowering others, maintaining that being directive ensures accuracy and eliminates time-consuming mistakes.

Book to Read

Transformational Leadership
by Bernard Bass and Ronald Riggio (2006)

Quick Take from the Book

Directive leadership is one of four main leadership styles:

  1. Concern for task (focused on concrete objectives).
  2. Concern for people (focused on the needs and development of followers).
  3. Directive (the leader sets the direction for the organization, including all decisions).
  4. Participatory (the leader shares decision-making with others).

Quote of Note

"The now-classic dichotomy of leadership categories or styles focuses on the distinction between leaders who are directive, authoritarian, and task focused versus leaders who are participative, democratic, and focused on followers. Transformational leaders can be directive or participative, authoritarian or democratic. Nelson Mandela was directive and transformational when he declared “Forget the past.” He was participative and transformational when he actively supported and involved himself in open, multiracial consultations. He was directive and transactional when he promised Blacks better housing in exchange for their votes and was participative and transactional when he reached mutual agreements about sharing power with the White minority. The same leaders display both transformational and transactional behavior as well as a mix of providing direction and encouraging participation." – pp. 230-231

Related Styles: Transactional Leadership

Return to List of Leadership Styles