Three approaches to communication and leadership

16681-shutterstock_90113023Some relationships are difficult because we approach them with the wrong method of communication.

Effective communication varies with different people.

Consider three approaches to communication in relationships, and especially in a leadership role. 

  1. Directive 
  2. Consultive 
  3. Free-Rein

Our goal should be to identify the best approach for each situation/person, making wise adjustments to our natural tendencies.

Look closely at the three approaches. 

1. Directive or Authoritative  the aim here is obedience. This approach is leader centered and commonly involves giving orders and directions. 


  • Quick decision-making
  • Crisis situations; where there is immaturity, right answers needed; addresses indecisiveness
  • Might yield better results when quick decisions are necessary


  • Centralizes in one person – the leader
  • encourages others to use less creativity and take less initiative
  • Fails to draw from the strengths of others
  • Doesn’t multiply through others

2. Consultive – the aim here is commitment 

Decentralizes leadership and delegates decisions and authority. Leader makes a final decision after consultation with others. Could still involve limits within which people function.


  • Recognizes value in others – encourages positive attitudes,
  • Reduces resistance to change
  • Exchanges ideas, improves job satisfaction and individual and group morale.
  • Shared ownership and responsibility
  • Follows the multiplication principle (Matthew 28:18-20)


  • Time consuming and slower decision-making.
  • Could create problems when unwisely practiced
  • Requires more maturity from leaders and participants
  • Possibly opens a door to antagonistic people

3. Free-reign – the aim here is initiative. This approach gives freedom and decision-making to others to operate as a group or individual independently. The leader uses this approach to allow free-flow of communication and he replaces authority with availability.


  • Increases satisfaction and morale of others
  • Encourages initiative and ownership
  • Develops leadership in others


  • Insufficient leadership
  • Insufficient guidance and support
  • Working at cross purposes – creating confusion, disunity and discouragement

Free-rein style is appropriate when others are well trained, knowledgeable, skilled. It is used with those who are self-motivated and prepared to take responsibility.


Ask yourself which of the three is your natural or learned tendency. The ability to restrain our natural tendency when a different approach is more effective is a mark of maturity. 

For example, parents must be more directional with children when they are small. As children grow older, the consultive approach teaches them to become involved, responsible and committed to doing what is best. 

Three words

Use the three words below to help you when faced with different situations.

  1. Pause don’t react naturally
  2. Identify – the desired results
  3. Adjustyour response to produce the appropriate communication/leadership style

For a closer look at this through an audio series, see here and here

Scripture to relate – “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone” (Colossians 4:5-6).

Note – The categories above do not all originate from me but have been adapted from a number of different sources that have been widely used over the years. Please use this material as a discussion item with others.

Steve Cornell


About Wisdomforlife

Just another worker in God's field.
This entry was posted in Church Leadership, Coach, Coaching, Communication, Community, Conflict, Counseling, Difficult people, Discernment, Disciple-making, Elders, elders in the Church, Family life, Fellowship, Leadership, Marriage, Relationships, Small Group leaders, Speech, Teenagers, Wisdom and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Three approaches to communication and leadership

  1. Reblogged this on Wisdomforlife and commented:

    Effective approaches to communication and leadership will vary with different people. Consider three approaches…


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