Directive Leadership Style: Definition, Benefits And Example

In any business, good leadership is a vital component. Directive leadership is a leadership style where you make decisions and expect others to follow them. A directive leader is adept at giving instructions, outlining objectives, and setting timelines and performance standards.

To understand this, here is what you should know which will help in becoming a directive leadership and also what else you should be in order to be an effective leader for team and organization.

Directive Leadership Definition

In a scenario of directive leadership, the leader assumes the primary responsibility for achieving the desired objective of a given outcome.

Directive leadership considers the team’s goals or objectives when creating specific tasks and encourages subordinates to complete the tasks as desired.

The best example of directive leadership is the teaching profession. A teacher has a rigid curriculum and syllabus to follow; their job is to train students and complete the assignments in the book.

Nobody questions directive leadership in the classroom, but this leadership style can turn out to be a topic of debate in the workplace. More so in settings where employees have diverse workflows and success strategies.

Characteristics Of Directive Leadership Style

Right from the start, they exert their authority.

Leaders who resort to directive leadership will exert their influence when they take charge of a team. They do not feel there is a need to win the affection of their employees. From the start, a clear standard is set, where tasks are delegated, and individuals are held accountable if they fail in their duties.

They exercise complete control

A directive leader feels they must accomplish the team’s goals and assumes full accountability for the outcomes the team produces.

They are going to delegate tasks and do whatever is possible at their end to comply with the organizational objectives.

Normally, this type of leader is not open to feedback from their team. Employees are less likely to challenge methods or decisions when this type of leadership is employed, as the leader cannot tolerate it.

There is a standard protocol that they follow

Directive leaders have complete control over the objectives and activities of their teams. This does not imply that they are inventing strategies or goals on the spot. Rather, they use proven, and established standards that they know will work.

Such a leadership style is not friendly to innovation and does not rely on protocols to generate results.

A hierarchy is enforced.

Hierarchy is an integral component of the directive leadership style. The reason is that the leader should be able to handle tasks without posing any issues about who has any authority over them.

The hierarchy positions are well defined, reducing obstacles down the road.

What Are The Scenarios Where Directive Leadership Turns Out To Be Effective?

Here are some of the scenarios where the leadership turns out to be important as well as effective, It includes :

  • They may be used when the task is complex or unstructured, and the follower is inexperienced.

  • Such a leadership style is appropriate for employees in the early stages of their careers who need to learn from organizational behavior.

  • From the follower’s perspective, this leadership style provides role clarity, clear expectations, lower stress, increased performance, and increased organizational satisfaction.

  • The style is adopted extensively by the military community, law enforcement, and manufacturing assembly lines. It provides a means of managing a diverse group of people that spans diverse experience levels and maturity.

  • The follower’s sense of control and security increases, considering the situation.

How To Become A Directive Leader?

There are instances when leaders need to intervene and establish strong rules for their teams. Team members benefit from directive leadership when they know their responsibilities. Below are a few steps you can take to become an effective leader.

Take charge

You must take the lead when you notice that your team is unmotivated and needs assistance. The leaders must be confident to take full responsibility for setting goals and outlining steps for the employees to follow. Once people know what is expected of them, they have a clear vision.

Assessing your authority

Utilizing your authority when in charge of a group that has shown a need for directed leadership is essential for success. It is vital that you establish your authority from the beginning. Show them that you are the head of the team by leading with confidence.

Believe in your guidance.

Some tasks or projects may not be completed even with your strict supervision. So, you need to monitor your team and guide them properly.

Provide directions and make sure that you check in frequently to monitor the overall progress. Directive leaders understand that their team members require clear expectations.

Follow protocols

The other type of leadership style encourages creativity or collaboration; directive leadership does not.
Under this leadership style, employees follow proven strategies to accomplish their duties.

Hold others accountable.

Structure and organisation are critical elements of directive leadership. Ensure all the team members work according to instructions by keeping a list of the employee’s tasks and responsibilities. Follow up to keep them accountable and review your expectations with them.

An established hierarchy

Directive leaders believe in an established hierarchy and do not deviate from it. If there is a chain of command, it ensures that the team members know you are the designated person for giving orders. Hence, they should not question your authority. Being a leader, your instructions may originate from higher positions.

Discourages innovation

There are many types of jobs that call for creativity and innovation. For those settings, directive leadership is not suited. When you lead a team, you need to set clear expectations and firm boundaries. This is what will drive your team to the specific goals.

Value control

The directive form of leadership is rooted in control and, when used correctly, stimulates control. Guide your team properly and pay attention to the requests, ensuring you are leading the team members with respect

Benefits Of Directive Leadership

  • To offer clarity
  • To offer consistency
  • To offer efficiency
  • To offer expectations
  • To offer Accountability
  • To offer security
  • To offer structure


The major benefit of directive leadership is the clarity that it provides. The purpose and direction of an organisation are clearly illustrated from the get-go, and no confusion exists as to what a team is trying to achieve.


Leaders who are directive adhere to rigorous deadlines. They are not the ones to forgive employees if they are not able to complete tasks within a stipulated time frame. Though it is not expected to create perfect work morale at the workplace, tasks are completed on time.


Many leaders take a step back from directive leadership in a corporate environment due to this leadership style’s drawbacks.

A major benefit of this leadership is efficiency. The leaders are not taking time to listen to the employees’ feedback, and when making big decisions, they procrastinate.

Rather, they prioritize the problem and use established standards and protocols to find the perfect solution. They can direct their team early on what needs to be done.

This leads to a reduction of time coming to a decision making and solutions come about promptly.

Clear expectations

Sometimes, a team may struggle to achieve its goals because the expectations are not clearly defined. When a leader uses a directive leadership style, everything an employee requires is appropriately communicated.


Directive leaders are always watching their team members with eagle eyes. The employees do not have excuses to make if they fail to perform their duties.

While this may not be an ideal way to enhance employee morale in a corporate setting, it does hold the workers accountable.

Safety and Security

The directive leaders’ key concerns are safety and security. They are not likely to take shortcuts or break the law since rules and regulations drive them.

Directive leadership can be useful in decreasing or preventing mishaps in situations or organizations.


The structure can be stifling in some cases, but for advancement and productivity, it is necessary.

When a situation lacks clarity, everyone can benefit from directive leadership.

A team that is unsure of how to proceed is bound to benefit if an individual takes charge and gives everyone appropriate direction.

How To Implement Directive Leadership?

A major drawback of directive leadership is that it can be cold and impersonal to the workers. Listening to your employees and empathizing with them can improve their confidence.

Though you may not use their input, providing them with an opportunity to voice their concerns or opinions creates a sense of belonging in the company.
In directive leadership, key communication is the key. Employees need to have all the information and directions they need to work.

The expectations and procedures need to be in writing for the employees so that there is no confusion.

How Do You Know That You Have Been Effective As A Directive Leader?

Directive leadership can be effective if its execution is proper, but how can you be sure that you are doing a great job as an effective leader? The following signs indicate that the directive leadership style is working:

  • The projects and tasks are completed on time.

  • Every team member understands what is expected of them.

  • The team members continuously improve in their respective roles.

  • The team members can work autonomously for most of the parts while coping with the expectations.

  • Team members rely on your guidance and are not hesitant to ask questions or solicit feedback.

  • You run a safe work environment with negligible health and safety regulations.

  • The team members are highly engaged, with a low turnover rate.

The last point seems to be a tricky one. Most directive leaders struggle to keep their employees engaged, and a rigid work environment can lead to burnout or a certain degree of boredom.

Directive leaders need to follow a proactive approach when it comes to engaging their employees. There are numerous ways in which they can go on to achieve the same thing.

  • Implementation of a reward system motivates employees to hit specific benchmarks and goals.

  • Tracking down the engagement and satisfaction levels of the employees regularly. This can be done via job performance reviews, surveys, and other resources. The information obtained can be used to make cultural improvements within a company.

  • Catering to the perfect personal and professional work balance for the employees A few ways this can be done are to provide them with flexible time, travel options, and other perks.

  • A safe platform should be provided where employees can express their thoughts, feelings, suggestions, and frustrations.


When would a directive leadership style be most appropriate?

Directive leadership is to be used when your team members are unskilled. If a new task is bestowed on your team, as they learn, they will need better direction. At this time, you need to be more directive, guiding them on how to do the task.

Why is directive leadership important?

Everyone does not want to lead. Team members are likely to welcome a directive leader who sets high expectations and makes big decisions. Such a form of leadership is also effective in organizations where subordinates lack experience and require strong guidance.

Is directive leadership transactional?

Directive leaders pay close attention to the actions of their employees and, through discipline, motivate them. Directive leadership follows a hierarchy approach and advocates consistency in values, predictability, and control.

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