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Secret #2: Directive Leadership in Autonomous Teams

Today I want to share with you secret number two of autonomous teams: directive leadership.

At the beginning of the journey, every employee, every team needs to be led in a directive manner. There's no problem with that, as long as progress is being made. Here's how to lead autonomously at the beginning:

  • Provide clear and detailed instructions to the team regarding what is expected from them.

  • Set specific and measurable objectives to facilitate progress monitoring.

  • Offer frequent feedback to guide the team and correct any mistakes.

  • Be proactive in problem-solving and provide support to the team to overcome obstacles.

Directive leadership plays an important role in every leader's toolbox, but its effectiveness goes beyond simply transmitting clear instructions. Here's how you can develop this leadership style for optimal results:

Strategic Planning: A directive leader not only dictates steps but provides the context and purpose behind the instructions. Explain to the team why the project is important and how it contributes to broader objectives. This strategic planning helps team members feel more involved and understand the importance of their work.

Training and Development: Directive leadership doesn't mean micromanagement. The team needs the right tools to complete tasks. Invest in training and development, ensuring that team members have the skills and knowledge necessary to efficiently execute the instructions.

Setting Clear Standards: Directive leaders establish clear performance standards and expectations. Define SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound) and communicate them to the team. This helps team members understand exactly what is expected of them and how their performance will be evaluated.

Monitoring and Constructive Feedback: Track the team's progress and provide constructive feedback. Focus on specific aspects of performance and identify both strengths and weaknesses. Use feedback as an opportunity for coaching and improvement.

Recognition of Performance: Effective directive leaders praise their team for a job well done. Recognizing performance motivates team members and encourages them to continue putting in effort.

Adaptability: Even within directive leadership, some flexibility is important. As team members gain experience, you can gradually delegate more complex tasks and provide more autonomy.

Two-way Communication: Encourage two-way communication. Although the directive leader holds the final decision-making authority, creating a safe space for team members to ask questions and offer suggestions can lead to better outcomes.

Conflict Management: Directive leaders need to be able to manage conflicts within the team. Set clear expectations for issue resolution and intervene promptly to mediate any misunderstandings.

Long-term Team Development: The ultimate goal of directive leadership is not permanent control but team development. As team members develop their skills and confidence, you can gradually transition to more participative or delegative leadership styles.

Strategically applied directive leadership can be an effective tool for achieving specific objectives and guiding new or inexperienced teams. By improving planning, training, feedback, and recognition, directive leaders can create a productive and motivating work environment.

What aspect do you find difficult to implement in your teams? Why? Reply to this email with your answer.

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