Leadership Soapbox – The Leadership Style Continuum

Where does your leadership style fall on the continuum from highly consultative to highly directive?


Hi, my name’s Neil Poynter, and welcome to this episode of “The Leadership Soapbox.”

What I want to talk about this time follows on from my previous video in which I talked about five points that leaders should be doing right now.

Well, it’s not just about what we should be doing. It’s about how we do it. And this is about our style and the way in which we engage with our people.

Remember from that previous video, if you haven’t seen it, I mentioned the importance of engagement and building motivation. Well, this is part of it, because how we behave with people has a huge impact on how well they will take on our decisions and plans.

So what I’m going to do in this one is just use a very, very simple behavioral model, and it’s a continuum, where at one end, I’ve got a highly consultative style and the other end, I’ve got a highly directive style.

And there are three things that are going to impact where we are on that continuum.

So first of all is time. How much time do I have available?

Now, let’s just think about a situation here. In a crisis, I don’t have a lot of time. I’m time short. That necessarily means that consultation has to be, if it happens at all, kept short and brief, I’m definitely going to be moving towards the highly directive style, especially in a genuine crisis.

So my first factor that impacts this scale is time.

The second factor that is going to impact this is the amount of knowledge and experience that my people have.

There is no point in my consulting with people who have no experience or knowledge. Equally, there is a huge advantage to me consulting with people who have got lots of knowledge and experience.

Now, this brings in really that if I have time, and knowledge and experience available, there is no doubt that my best solutions are going to come to problems by moving towards the consultative end of the scale. So this is where we want to aim for.

Now my third factor that will impact this is how willing people are to engage in a consultation with me.

If they’re not, there is no point again.

So three factors, time, knowledge and experience, and willingness. Now spin that over and remembering the point that our best solutions are going to come to problems from the highly consultative end. And what I’ve now got is three things I need to develop in my team.

I need to give them time.

I need to create knowledge and experience in my team.

And thirdly, I need to create the willingness and engagement and the desire to want to be involved with things, because there is no doubt that is where my best solutions are going to be.

Now a question for you, how good are you at delivering those three things

How good are you at giving people plenty of time, allowing them to develop knowledge and experience, and do you create that desire, and do you choose to flex your style depending upon the situation that you’re facing?

Okay, this is all important stuff that we need to be thinking about. So if this is something you’d like to talk more about, please drop me an email, or a comment, or whatever the best way is for you to contact me. But this is also something that I’m going to be leading into a deeper dive video when we start talking about emotional intelligence. So look out for that one. I hope that’s useful, and I look forward to speaking to you soon.

View all Leadership Soapbox posts here