Leadership Behaviour

A proactive leadership behaviour caters for the motivational needs of the subordinates.

To believe that they are capable of performing their job, that their efforts will result in a certain outcome and that a worthwhile payoff awaits them is highly motivating for employees. A Leader is expected to adopt a leadership behaviour that best meets the subordinates’ motivational needs. An effective leadership behaviour complements what is missing in the workplace. Enhancing subordinates’ goal attainment requires the leader to provide information about the rewards, the elements they think their subordinates need to actualise their goals.

When a leadership behaviour increases the layers of compensation that employees or subordinates get with, makes the path to the goal clear and unimpeded and ensures that a personally satisfying feeling accompanies the work, it gets subordinates along to motivation.

The directive leadership behaviour sees to give subordinates instructions about their task, together with what is expected of them, how it is to be executed and the timeline for its completion. It is the voice that sets clear standards of performance and makes rules and regulations that are unambiguous to subordinates. Subordinates with authoritarian and dogmatic leanings who have to work in uncertain situations favour the directive leadership behaviour that provides psychological structure, task clarity and a sense of certainty. This model of leadership behaviour is also suited for those with an external locus of control, who believe that chance, fate or outside forces determine their life events. The directive leadership behaviour rallies to situations where the task demands are ambiguous and the organisational rules and procedures are unclear. The basis of directive leadership hinges on complementing the work by providing guidance and psychological structure to the subordinates. Directive leadership should be toned down in situations where subordinates feel competent to complete their work.

Being friendly and approachable and attending to the wellbeing and human needs of subordinates are tasks compatible to the supportive leadership behaviour. A supportive leader acts for treating subordinates as equals, giving them respect for their status and creating a pleasant work environment at a considerable expense of effort. The supportive leadership behaviour is preferred by subordinates with strong needs for affiliation and those who are plagued by insecurity.

The participative leadership behaviour is championed by a leader who shares decision-making with the subordinates by integrating their ideas, opinions and suggestions into organisational processes. The participative leadership behaviour is most satisfying to subordinates with an internal locus of control, who believe that they are in charge of things that occur in their life. It also works best when the task is ambiguous and unstructured. Participation brings greater clarity to bear on how certain processes lead to certain results. It is also effective in situations where subordinates have a strong need for control and are disposed to responding favourably to being involved in decision-making and in the structuring of the work.

The achievement-oriented leadership behaviour does the work of challenging subordinates to perform work at the highest level possible. The leader operating under this model displays a high level of confidence in the subordinates, sets a high standard of excellence for them and seeks continuous improvement. Staffs who are driven and competitive do well with this type of leadership. The achievement-oriented leadership behaviour takes to effectiveness in situations where the subordinates are required to perform ambiguous, challenging, complex tasks. Leaders here raise subordinates’ confidence that they have the ability to rise to the high standards of performance and reach their goals.

To be effective, leaders should adapt their leadership behaviour to the motivational needs of their subordinates. The participative, directive or any afore-mentioned leadership behaviours may apply at certain points in the execution of a single task by a subordinate. Directing, guiding and coaching subordinates along to their goals are the leader’s job. The wisdom of assessing subordinates and their task sets up the leader to choose an appropriate leadership behaviour to match the relevant characteristics.


  • I love how you mention several different types of leaders. From directive leaders to participative leaders, all of them share one overarching trait, being there for the betterment and progression of their subordinates. Too often I see bad leaders today focused on financial gains or beating yesterday’s numbers that it all becomes a game of push to them. Pushing their employees as hard and far as they can, to produce as many results as possible. Losing track of the entire reason and purpose they are there. The best leaders know they are there to guide, shape, help, and better every person under them. –Ryan

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