Situational Leadership - Directing

Situational Leadership is practical adaptation of the leader to the follower's level of readiness for a task. In this phase, Directing, the follower is new to a task or new to a job and need to be told what to do.

In this phase of Situational Leadership - Directing, the follower needs the task or job spelled out with clear direction. The follower needs to know:

  • Desired outcome(s)
  • Quality level
  • Parameters of decision making
  • Measures of success
  • Specific processes in place
  • Resources and how to access them

For example, a new employee has experience in setting up breaks for meetings. Rather an assuming that what the employee learned in the past meets your company's requirements, go over the specifications and expectations. Detail what foods are required for a "coffee break," the time it should be set up relative to the actual break time, the dishes, cups, glasses, cutlery to be there and the quantity of beverages, foods and condiments. Detail how to handle special dietary needs.

Effective management at this point also requires the leader to interact with the follower and understand how quickly he or she gets it and when to move on. The leader need also be alert as to when to come back to this phase if either the leader or follower miscalulated understanding or ability. In the example above, check in with the new employee as he or she is preparing for that first coffee break. Observe to see how well things are going and praise progress.

After the break, check in and ask the new employee how he or she thinks things went. Ask for suggestions for improvement for the next time.

Leadership Tips

Given clear direction is a skill not every manager possesses. Here are things to keep in mind when giving directions:

  • Give the overarching goal of the assignment first, then the steps to reach the goal. "The purpose of this report is to track project milestones. Tracking milestones gives us data to adjust our course or realign resources."
  • Use short declarative sentences. "Reports are due on the 15th of every month."
  • 5 - 7 chunks of data are all people can process well. If the assignment has more bits of data, group the bits
  • Ask "What questions do you have?" rather than "Do you have any questions?" This lets the follower know you expect to get clarifying questions.
  • Return to Home Page