What are the virtues of directive management in this day and age?
In what situations will this type of management be appropriate?
Directive management and managerial agility
The directive manager was born out of war. Highly criticised, it is a management style that is associated with a form of authoritarianism, when in fact it is, in certain circumstances, perhaps indispensable and felt to be lacking by some managers.
General description of the directive or authoritarian manager
Directive management sees the manager as a leader who provides a framework, laying down rules and limits that must not be crossed, issuing orders to ensure productivity and leaving out any moods. Mistakes are limited because the fear of reprisals makes the performer attentive. It’ s a model born of war and dictatorships in particular, which advocated management by fear.
When you tell a manager today that he or she has a dominant authoritarian style, they think it’s negative because it’s connoted in the collective unconscious. If they only use this type of management, it goes without saying that it will quickly become problematic. However, this type of management is sometimes necessary in certain situations, and even virtuous. No management style should be criticised. It is the situation that should guide its use.
A comprehensive study on management (comparative results from over 8,000 people) and the profiles of managers and executives will also give you a better idea of who uses directive management styles and which skills are most developed according to the level of responsibility occupied.
To assess yourself and identify how much directive management you potentially use with your teams, you can take the Assess Manager management test, which also assesses other management styles and measures your degree of maturity in a range of management skills.
Extract from the book on managers “Le management à porter demain”
The wartime era – Culture of authoritarianism
If we go back to the Second World War, we are living under regimes of urgency and totalitarianism. Army management is dictated, authoritarian and leaves little room for debate. Orders must be carried out without a word and subordination is accepted as necessary. Information flows downwards. Employees are not asked to have emotions or to think.
This is directive management.
Positive points of directive management
Directive management provides a framework that many employees want when they do not wish to take on responsibility, have not learned to do so or do not feel confident in their skills.
It limits the risk of error by adhering to a tried and tested process. Quality is achieved if the thinkers behind the process have carried out appropriate upstream analysis.
The overall rate of production is kept under control, and employees who are not very competent see themselves progressing and developing their self-confidence through a growing ability to do things well.
The right use of directive management
Directive management can be appropriate in critical situations: emergency situations, dangerous situations, complex situations, or situations involving safety risks.
It can also be useful when dealing with unskilled employees who initially need guidance to help them develop their ability to do things, to execute: it’s also a form of management that sets the “direction” to be taken. Their needs will evolve once they have acquired the basics, and management will then have to evolve.
When is directive management essential?
Directive management can be useful for ensuring safety and precision in sensitive environments.
Imagine a surgeon being supported by colleagues on the operating table. A person’s life is at stake and every second counts. You can’t imagine him saying “do you think these are the forceps I should use? He says “forceps” so that it’s given to him, quickly, because it’s imperative, he’s playing his role as manager-expert that he must assume. TV series on medical subjects largely show this model. On the other hand, when there is a need to reflect on a patient and his illness, a group of experts can meet and use a more participative, consultative management style: “What do you think of this case? What would you recommend?”
Examples of managerial situations involving directive management
- An employee does not respect the work environment even though it has been agreed that this is important – e.g. wearing safety shoes. The manager could ask the employee to put on his safety shoes at all times
- An employee regularly makes spelling mistakes in his emails: “systematically look at the underlined errors in the spellchecker before sending an email and take the time to correct any underlined words.”
- An unfriendly employee who doesn’t say hello to colleagues when they arrive at the office in the morning, even though there are only 5 desks – after trying to understand whether this was due to some other problem: “In the company, there are a few rules about being friendly. One of them is to drop into the office to say hello. Without disturbing someone who’s on the phone or even giving you the impression that you’re wasting time, please pass by each desk with a little wave of the hand to say hello from now on when you arrive. “A manager passes on a new work project to an employee lacking skills. He can be directive in setting the right benchmarks.
Do you know how to use directive management when necessary?
If you liked this page, you can find the author and many other subjects of reflection on management in the book “Le management à porter demain” published by EMS Coach, which details all the managerial skills.
Limits of directive management
We are not unaware of the damaging effects of these management methods: the execution of insane orders, Hitler being the supreme example of the damaging effects of authoritarianism at its most atrocious. How can millions of people follow orders to massacre without asking themselves basic questions like: is what I’m doing right now virtuous? Top-down management deprives the worker of his or her ability to think and feel. It dehumanises the landscape by turning people into machines.
In other words, the negative effects of directive management are to limit confidence in the individual to find his own solutions or the appropriate solutions, particularly if he already has the skills to do so, and therefore to ultimately reduce his skills, his autonomy and also his motivation.
Where do we find the most directive managers?
Directive management is traditionally used in the health, military and sensitive sectors (e.g. nuclear).
You are a manager. Do you sometimes use directive management? Never? Too often?
The free management test gives you the precise answer, and also shows you the other management styles that you are capable of using, or that you already use.
Key points about directive management
Directive management is a management style. It often underpins specific skills and shortcomings. A manager with a directive stance will often have potentially high decision-making skills. Directive management cannot be the only management style used.Other management styles should also be used:
The management test developed by Assess Manager does not deduce skills, it measures them in concrete terms, and in particular: the ability to take decisions, to develop a corporate vision, and the ability to support change.
To go further with Assess Manager