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Directive and Participative Leadership in Higher Education

Paper Type: Free Assignment Study Level: University / Undergraduate
Wordcount: 1850 words Published: 14th May 2019

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“Leadership is an important resource of all organizations and is exhibited by individuals through a broad a scope of talents and abilities” (Lester, 1975).  In order to improve the organizational climate continues, the present concept of leadership needs to modified and calrified (Lester, 1975).   Leadership styles can vary among individuals that are placed in positions to lead, in fact their style of leadership is what sets them apart from others that previously occupied the same position.  Leaders regardless to what sector they are in, are essentially important to the success of a business, which requires them to be effective.  According to Cicero, Pierro, & Van Knippenberg (2010) “Leadership effectiveness represents the ability of a leader to mobilize and influence followers”.  De Cremer and Van Knippenberg (2004) states that leadership effectiveness,” is crucial in that it drives the proclivity of the of the workforce towards attainment of shared goals”. Effectiveness in leadership is significant because it translates to accomplished goals, purpose and successful results.   Leadership in education is not any different than other sector of business. Leadership positions in higher education institutions in the US plays a vital role in keeping the institution operational. “The leaders holding different leadership positions play specific roles to ensure that everything is in accordance with the expectations of higher education” (Weinberger, 2009).  For the purpose of this paper, I will analyze directive and participative leadership and their application in higher education settings.

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In leadership many styles exist, they range from autocratic, transformational, team, cross cultural, facilitative, laissez-faire, transactional, coaching, charismatic, visionary, directive and participative.  Lester (1975) states “To become a more effective leader, each person must analyze his own leadership style and determine the scope of his leadership zone”.   “It appears that effective leaders are those who exemplify interpersonal aptitudes that allow them to form solid connections with an array of individuals through which thy ass value to the latter in accordance with expectations which, in turn, leads to goal accomplishment “(Solomon and Steyn, 2017).

“Directive leadership and participative leaderships are two fundamentals sets of behaviors, leaders employ to manage teams, yet little is known about their antecedents” (Li, Liu and Luo, 2018).  (Lorinkova, Pearsall and Sims (2013) states that “Directive leadership, is associated with a leader’s positional power and is characterized by behaviors aimed at actively structuring subordinates’ work through providing clear directions and expectations regarding compliance with instructions”.   Lorinkova, Pearsall and Sims (2013) also states that “directive leaders help followers resolve task and role ambiguity and provide external monitoring and feedback on their performance, reducing process loss and allowing team to execute decisions more quickly”.  Lorinkova, Pearsall and Sims (2013), further states that “teams led by directive leaders formed routinized processes and shared cognitive structures more easily”.  “Directive leadership entails providing subordinates with precise guidance on what needs to be achieved, how it should be done and the necessary quality level” (Martin, 2013).   Team members are likely to obey accurate orders from leaders, enabling them to fully concentrate on completing specific team tasks” (Li, Liu and Luo, 2018). “Thus, social information such as clear work goals, specific work procedures, and the frequent monitoring of team leaders produces a sense of obligation, rules, and responsibilities among team members, which in turn enhance team efficiency” (Li, Liu & Luo, 2018).   Li, Liu, & Luo (2018) also indicated “this social information from directive leaders might also undermine team creativity”.  Cruz, Hennihgsen, & Smith (1999) stated that directive leadership has been associated with poor decision making.

 Koopman and Weirdsma (1998) defined participative leadership as “Joint decision making, or a least shared influence in decision making, by a superior and his or her employees”.   Participative leadership in the simplest form is leadership where everyone participates, it more a joint venture where ideas are accepted by all.  Participative leadership is collective leadership and is assumed to be associated with high performance.  In higher education, leaders who exhibit participative leadership, are said to develop more positive interpersonal interactions.  Participative leadership is “characterized by autonomy, collaboration, and openness and it encourages team members to work innovatively by offering creative ideas and solutions and allowing enough time and space to make the best decision” (Lam, 2015).  The article ‘Situation based’ leadership (McCrimmon, 2006) presents an argument against participative leadership. McCrimmon states that “participative leadership is not possible because leadership involves one person persuading others to do something they would otherwise not do”.  He further states that “Leadership is always unidirectional’. From McCrimmon’s point of view “Decision making is about management, not leadership” furthermore he affirms “leadership is about ‘inspiring people to change direction”. 

Leadership is a influential position where leaders are expected to influence others in supporting the achievement of the desired goal.  A leader can be defined as someone delegates or someone who chooses to actively contribute to their team/staff.  Regardless of the style of leadership that applied, the leader should portray a sense of purpose and vision, if their plan is be effective.

We currently reside in a world that is constantly impacted by anxiety and stress.  Just the mere thought of turning on the television adds to it, because of the uncertainty that we live in.  The stories range from mass school shootings, feuding political parties, to the first amendment right to protest being scrutinized. It makes no difference what channel you turn to, it’s always the same depressing storyline, one channel after the other.  In the day to day demands of work, school, and family, even the most resilient individual can be affected by stress.  Stress can mean different things to different people; therefore, there are several definitions of the term.   According to the American Institute of Stress, stress can be defined as a state of mental or emotional strain or perhaps tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances. Stress can also be defined as something that causes strong feelings of worry or anxiety. 

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One common form of stress that seems to affect many employees is work related stress. Work related stress is simply defined as stress involving work.  This type of stress can develop as a result of outside pressure, deadlines, demands and uncertainty in the work environment.  The uncertainty leads to an increased level of discomfort and stress for employees and their superiors as they try to accomplish their day-to-day objectives and achieve their professional goals (Abbott 1991).  According to the Japanese National Survey of Health, the most frequent stressors are work-related problems, followed by health-related and then financial problems. Conceptually, work-related stress includes a variety of conditions, such as overwork, unemployment or job insecurity, and lack of work-family balance. Job stress has been linked to a range of physical and mental health outcomes, such as cardiovascular disease, insomnia, depression, and anxiety.   

Securing a position in higher education, is considered  , Leadership at its finest is not a stress-free position.  Many people fail to realize that leadership in higher education requires the leader to give much of themselves and because of this leader are often riddled with stress. “For women administrators in higher education, workplace factors like managing multiple roles; work bleeding into personal life; issues with leadership; discrimination and marginalization; and role insufficiency (i.e., ambiguity in work roles and reduced sense of control) contribute to increased workplace stress” (Kersh, 2018). “Leaders in higher education must recognize increased work related stress can have consequences, particularly if work stress becomes chronic” (Kersh,2018).  The effects of the chronic work related stress may result in poor job performance as well as job dissatisfaction.  Leaders in higher education must recognize the signs of work related stress and seek solutions to coping and combating it.   No one is exempt from feeling the effects of stress,  the key is learning how to manage it.


  • Abbott A.(1981) Status and status strain in the professions. American Journal Social 86 4 819-833.
  • Japanese Ministry of Health and Welfare: National Survey of Health 2004.  Tokyo: Kosei Toukei Kyoukai; 2006.
  • Kersh, R. (2018). Women in Higher Education: Exploring Stressful Workplace Factors and Coping Strategies. NASPA Journal About Women In Higher Education, 11(1), 56-73.
  • Lam, C. K., Huang, X., & Chan, S. C. (2015). The threshold effect of participative leadership and the role of leader information sharing. Academy of Management Journal, 58, 836–855.
  • Lester, C. (1975) Leadership styles-a key to effectiveness. Journal of Extension 3-11.
  • Li, G., Liu, H., & Luo, Y. (2018). Directive versus participative leadership: Dispositional antecedents and team consequences. Journal Of Occupational And Organizational Psychology
  • Lorinkova, N. M., Pearsall, M. J., & Sims Jr., H. P. (2013). Examining The Differential Longitudinal Performance of Directive Versus Empowering Leadership in Teams. Academy of Management Journal, 56(2), 573-596.
  • Martin, S. L., Liao, H., & Campbell, E. M. (2013). Directive Versus Empowering Leadership: A
  • Field Experiment Comparing Impacts On Task Proficiency and Proactivity. Academy Of Management Journal, 56(5), 1372-1395.
  • McCrimmon, M. 2006. ‘Situation based’ leadership. Leaders Direct.Available at: http://www.leadersdirect.com.
  • Solomon, A., & Steyn, R. (2017). Leadership style and leadership effectiveness: Does cultural intelligence moderate the relationship? Acta Commercii, 17(1), 13 pages


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