Leadership: Leadership Provides Direction

“Provides direction” consists of 4 behaviors:

  • makes expectations clear;
  • establishes a manageable workload for direct reports;
  • accomplishes longer-term objectives by planning incremental steps;
  • keeps focus on big picture while implementing the details

In First Break All the Rules the most important item in a worker’s job satisfaction is “I know what’s expected of me.” Translated into the supervisor’s role, this means that it is extremely important for a supervisor to make expectations clear. The problem of unclear expectations can arise in several ways, but the most frequent way is when expectations change and is not communicated adequately by supervisors. For example, last month’s urgent emphasis becomes replaced by this month’s urgency. Supervisors need to communicate what the current urgent priority is, and explain that last month’s issue has been resolved, for example:

Establishing a manageable workload is a key element of High Performance Organizations. This requires supervisors to know the workload standards, the workload of each worker, and to take into account the level of staffing. Staffing levels are often beyond supervisor control, but we should be careful to break in new works gradually in order to retain them and not burn them out. Often the more productive workers become burned out doing more than their perceived fair share of the work, while other less productive workers have smaller loads.

Planning differs from the day-to-day activities and responsibilities because planning impacts activities over a longer period of time. Supervisors who use a planning approach to develop the day-to-day activities will be more effective because they will accomplish longer-term objectives by planning incremental, smaller steps. The deliverable elements of the plan need to be put on a time line so duties can be assigned to appropriate staff with adequate time for training and orientation.

Keeps focus on the big picture while implementing the details can be stated simply: Keep the focus on the Vision, Mission, Values, and Guiding Principles while going about the day-to-day business of DHS. The big picture includes the reasons we are here as an agency, and the reason we come to work: to help families, children, and adults become stronger.

For additional growth in leadership – provides direction:

  • Read DHS Mission Statement;
  • Read Bringing Out the Best in Others, by Thomas K. Conellan, PH.D;
  • Ask for feedback from staff on the 4 items in this skill area;
  • Ask for a mentor on Providing Direction; and
  • Take a course in basic supervision at your local Community College.
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