Are you applying the right leadership style?
The right leadership style is crucial to leadership success. It can mean the difference between taking a team from ordinary to extraordinary. Read more.

Are you applying the right leadership style?

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The right leadership style is crucial to leadership success. It can mean the difference between taking a team from ordinary to extraordinary. Moreover, by understanding the different leadership styles, you can become a more flexible and better leader.



Before we look at the different styles, let us take a quick look at the different types of behaviours that leaders adopt. These behaviours relate directly to the four different styles outlined below.


Directive Behaviour

Directive Behaviour involves developing plans, programs and schedules related to employee work. When you adopt this type of behaviour, you ‘direct’ your employees to carry out tasks and assume close and frequent supervision of the tasks. Additionally, you provide job training and objective setting.


Relationship Behaviour

Relationship Behaviour includes how much a leader shares with employees regarding the aforementioned task activities: developing plans, programming and scheduling employee work, and objective setting. This behaviour type relates to how much the leader shares regarding problem-solving and decision making around how to carry out tasks. Furthermore, it is concerned with the amount of coaching, counselling and encouragement provided by the leader.



Situational leadership


Style 1 – Telling or Directing

The Telling or Directing Style is low relationship/high directive behaviour. This style says to employees, ‘I will make the decision and tell you how’. The focus is on the task at hand and not the employee. With this style, you will find yourself ‘telling’ your direct report a great deal.


Style 2 – Explaining or Coaching

Explaining or Coaching is high relationship/high directive behaviour. It tells employees that ‘We will talk about it, but I will make the decision and explain why’. The focus of this style is on both the task and relationships with team members. You will find yourself ‘explaining’ a great deal with this style.


Style 3 – Participating or Supporting

The Participating or Supporting Style consists of low directive/high relationship behaviour. With this style, you are telling your employees that ‘We will talk about it and decide together. I will coach and encourage you through it’. The focus is on supporting and helping your employee. You will spend your time coaching, as well as encouraging the employee and participating in tasks.


Style 4 – Delegating

Delegating is low directive/low relationship behaviour. It tells employees, ‘You decide. I will be available to consult if needed, but essentially I trust you to make the decision’. The focus is on allowing employees to take responsibility and initiative. All you are doing with this style is monitoring tasks and relationships.


No one ‘right’ leadership style suits all situations. To choose the most effective style in any given moment, you must consider:

  • The skill level and experience of your team members
  • The task at hand and its importance
  • The work involved
  • The organisational environment
  • Your own preferred or natural style


By switching between the leadership styles, to utilise whichever one best suits the situation with your particular employees, work gets done while employee knowledge and skills increase.


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