transition to a coaching style. For those workers not motivated to move forward with advancing their skills, the supervisor might continue to employ a directing style.
The directive style is also appropriate when a decision has to be made quickly and when the stakes are high. In these situations, strong directive leadership is the way to achieve success.
Directive behavior involves clearly telling people what to do and how to do it and then closely monitoring their performance. Watchwords for the supervisor with regard to utilization of the directive style are: structure, organize, teach, and supervise.
It should be noted that the directing style, and the other three leadership styles as well, are based in the assumption that the supervisor believes his workers are responsible and self-motivated, and that they have the desire and the potential to become high performers. This rationale continues with the thought that the workers will be given direction by the supervisor so that they can begin developing their full potential.
This philosophy differs radically from the assumptions that many managers frequently made about the workforce in the past, wherein the presumption was that the workers are not inclined to work, do not seek responsibility, are not reliable, and do not seek to advance. These assumptions provided the rationale in the past that, therefore, the workers needed close supervision and that an autocratic directive style was the best way to manage. We will further discuss assumptions that managers make with regard to the workers who compose the workforce in the section on motivation later in this chapter.
When she employs a coaching style of leadership, the supervisor continues to direct and closely monitor task accomplishment, but she also explains decisions, solicits suggestions, and supports progress. Thus, the coaching leadership style involves both some direction and some support on the part of the supervisor.
When utilizing the coaching style the supervisor engages in two-way communication by asking for suggestions and getting input from the workers, recognizing that the workers frequently have good ideas. This style involves listening to people, and providing encouragement and support for their efforts, and then facilitating their involvement in problem solving and decision making. However, in the end it is the supervisor who makes the decision and who provides the directive with regard to what is to be done.
For workers who have some amount of experience and who demonstrate reasonable competence at performing a set of tasks, a coaching leadership style might be indicated. Additionally, for workers who have progressed from needing a directive style, and who have indicated that they wish to continue to grow and advance, a coaching leadership style on the part of the supervisor might provide the next step in their evolution and growth.
When utilizing a supporting leadership style, the supervisor facilitates and supports people’s efforts toward task accomplishment, and shares decision making with them. Keywords characterizing supportive leadership are: listen, ask, explain, facilitate. A supervisor utilizing this supportive style, supports and encourages people’s efforts, listens to their suggestions, and facilitates their interactions with others.