3 approaches to leadership and parenting

words-and-wisdom-logoSome relationships are difficult because we approach them using the wrong method of communication. Effective approaches to communication vary with different people and situations.

Three approaches are helpful to consider.

  1. Directive
  2. Consulting
  3. Free-Rein

Our goal should be to identify the best approach for each situation and to adjust natural tendencies so that we can be the most effective.

  1. Directive – the aim here is following orders. This approach 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
  1. Consulting – 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


  • 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
  1. 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.

Parents must be more directional with children when they are small. As children grow older, the consultative 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. Adjust – your response to produce the appropriate communication/leadership style

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

Steve Cornell

Note – The categories above do not all originate with 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.



About Wisdomforlife

Just another worker in God's field.
This entry was posted in Communication, Elders, elders in the Church, Leadership, Parenting, Parenting teens, Wisdom and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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