Explore the latest HR statistics that drive employee engagement and company growth. Stay ahead with actionable insights for modern workplaces.
During your career, you’re going to discover different ways that departments handle the general management and operations of the companies you find yourself working for.
As you navigate your career, you’re also going to be exposed to many different styles of management from many different team leaders. These will range from middle managers, office managers, assistant managers, and your department head.
Some managers will become your mentors, showing you the right way to manage and inspire employees, and others…not so much. A bad manager can make even the most talented employees less productive and happy, while a good manager can encourage and improve company morale.
You might find that one style of management works better for you than others. And as you become a team leader yourself, you should make an effort to observe how others lead and how you see your coworkers respond.
Growing and establishing your own management skills is an invaluable asset to your career growth, no matter where you fall in the management hierarchy.
Whether you’re a Marketing Manager, Chief Technology Officer, Middle Manager, or in the top-level management of your company, these types of management styles can help you determine the best way to lead.
But you can learn from both the positive and negative aspects of each of these types of managers. And all of these lessons are going to be beneficial towards shaping your future career and, ultimately, the type of team leader that you want to become.
Once you take on managerial roles, you need to create organizational objectives and strategic plans that ensure the long-term success of your entire organization. That will require advanced interpersonal skills and a strong understanding of your current employees.
In this post, we’re going to discuss the different styles of management that you may encounter on your journey to the top, the pros and cons of each style, and how to understand what motivates your team and what style of management they will respond to best.
There is no such thing as a perfect manager, but you can become the best manager for your specific team by listening to their feedback and responding to their needs.
When you’ve learned how to identify key differences in style and approach, you’ll also be better prepared to deal with the manager you currently have because you’ll know a little more about their style of leadership, giving you an inside track to their reasoning.
Everyone is different. We all have different needs and different ways in which we experience life.
You may look at a problem one way and see a certain set of solutions, while someone else can look at the same scenario and imagine an entirely different set of options.
This is as true in life as it is in business. When we can understand and recognize different management styles, we’re better equipped to create guidelines for the kind of managers best suited to specific roles and divisions.
Not every manager receives extensive training to learn how to be the best manager. Many have to teach themselves and learn along the way.
As your business grows or your department evolves, you’re going to be employing more people and with a larger headcount comes differing personalities, frames of reference, and experience levels. These all have a direct impact on how you lead your team.
In truth, there are a wide range of different management styles, each with its peculiarities and recognizable traits.
But we’re going to get to know the six basic styles of management a little better. By becoming familiar with these styles, you’ll be able to identify most of the managers you’re likely to encounter throughout your career.
The six basic management styles are:
Between these styles of managerial approaches, you’ll be able to identify a solid cross-section of business leadership.
There isn’t one “right” style of management, and it certainly isn’t a one-size-fits-all situation to be a perfect manager. Different types of organizations require different management approaches.
Some may even require a mix of two different styles, and you might find that while one style of management fits perfectly for one employee, it might not work for another.
Let’s talk about the common types of management styles and how they present themselves in a workspace.
The Autocratic management style functions as a “top-down” approach which means that communication tends to flow in one direction only: from the “boss” to the employee or subordinate.
This management style is very much a power-focused leadership style that tends to view employees as “worker-bees” who should be following instructions sans complaint or feedback within clearly designed limits.
Power is concentrated with management leaving very little (if any) room for positive feedback, critique, or discussion amongst the workforce. This can be a very controlling level of management.
Under an autocratic manager, job satisfaction can be low and it is not always a style that is conducive towards inspiring employee well-being.
This style can also be interpreted as being old-fashioned and antagonistic. One would be cautioned for its use in the modern-day workspace with an increasingly high emphasis on employees’ rights and well-being at work.
However, the one upside to this management style is that highly independent employees will thrive. Unlike some more relaxed management styles where employees have to determine what is expected, this style encourages clear communication.
Talented employees clearly understand what is expected from them. They don’t need to be told what to do, and at times, doing so may negatively impact their workflow.
As the name indicates, this participative management style is a lot more open than its autocratic predecessor.
This is a visionary management style where managers ask for and value their teams’ thoughts, ideas, and opinions. Managers will spend time asking for the individual viewpoints of each team member, and even though the buck ultimately stops with management, team member participation in the process is highly valued.
You’ll often find the consultative management style in industries or services where a high degree of specialization is required as constructive feedback from various experts is needed to empower decision-making. This collaborative approach takes a specific type of manager who is willing to take criticism and is open to new ideas.
A consultative management style inspires a much greater level of employee engagement. Still, leaders should be sure to make effective time management a built-in component of this leadership style to avoid time wastage caused by over-consultation.
Open two-way communication is one of the hallmarks of this management style. Employee or team member contributions are not just valued but actively encouraged.
Though, like consultative management, the final decision will ultimately be made by management.
This leadership style allows for greater autonomy and employee productivity amongst the workforce while still ensuring that overall leadership rests with the executives. A collaborative management style fosters innovation and involvement from employees and is a sign of a successful manager.
Democratic management styles allow for a greater diversity of ideas and skill sets that ultimately lead to higher productivity as well as improved department and company efficiency.
However, as with consultative management, democratic leaders need to ensure that all of that communication does not come at a cost to deliverables and efficiency goals.
When you have an organization or department where team members are highly skilled in their duties and functions or highly qualified for that matter, management may consider employing a more hands-off approach to leadership.
This is because staff can be trusted to bring high levels of innovation, dedication, discipline, and compliance to the workplace.
Here, managers tend to assign tasks, check for time efficiency, and make themselves available when executive decision-making is required. But the day-to-day running of the workflow is left to the staff.
This type of management style is generally not suited to most working environments as most people need high levels of motivation and direction. But self-sufficient teams or creative teams can find it to be advantageous.
If you know that you, as a manager, hold the ultimate skillset in your division or business, you might find this management style compelling.
Persuasive management invites questions, feedback, or even critique from team members and helps staff feel like they are part of the decision-making process. Ultimately, the final decision rests in the hands of the leadership team.
However, with this leadership style, some employees can feel as if they are labored under a leadership team that has them execute functions instead of carrying out those functions.
But combined with intelligent and creative management, persuasive management can feel like collaborative leadership and inspire greater feelings of well-being amongst team members.
This is very much a “leadership by example” style of management as managers work alongside their team members to demonstrate their commitment to harder and smarter working. Team members are encouraged to think outside of the box and innovate by leading from the front.
Teaching employees leadership skills can be beneficial because they will use these skills to keep their team on task and naturally become team leaders.
In organizations that work to strict deadlines and with tight deliverables or a high demand for innovation and cutting edge outcomes, you could find this style particularly beneficial as it removes the “power structure” from the team. This eliminates archaic or hierarchical operations that could waste time when decisions need to be reached fast.
Examples of companies that have been very successful with this type of leadership include Microsoft, Apple, IBM, and Intel.
While it could at first seem as if this style of management is stifling and restrictive, it can work well in environments where decisions have to be made quickly and decisively with little room for error. If a team is not overly skilled or trained in appropriate specialization, this approach could also be helpful.
However, this style also typically leads to issues with retaining staff as there isn’t much room for growth or self-improvement. Whether or not this authoritative style will work for your company comes down to your business objectives, company goals, and employee base.
Individuals who don’t function incredibly well under tight control and direction could feel frustrated and undervalued, which will directly impact productivity and service standards.
These managers tend to enjoy high levels of employee well-being and satisfaction as team members feel valued and heard. You may find that as a result of greater management visibility and team connection, management and their teams “grow together” and in a unified direction.
Creating a learning culture that prioritizes your employees' long-term development can have a positive impact on employee performance and overall business goals.
On the other hand, this democratic style of leadership can be laborious and time-intensive. If not executed correctly, employees could feel bogged down by the constant questioning and discussions taking place when all they want to do is just get on with it.
With this leadership style, employees feel valued but also feel like integral parts of the decision-making processes and can contribute freely without fear of recrimination or judgment. Employees feel as if companies take their professional development seriously and thus work harder and more creatively.
However, not everyone wants to be part of every discussion, and some team members are quite happy to be led and follow instructions. This could lead to feelings of resentment when this style of management doesn’t fit some employees.
Additionally, if your company or business deals with sensitive information, then having a forum that is too open could present challenges and problems along the way regarding privacy.
This coaching management style can create passive managers and poor performance if not executed correctly.
Where there are team members who are highly skilled in executing their job functions, this approach can lead to high levels of innovation and productivity.
When employees are given the freedom to problem solve and troubleshoot without too much autocratic governance, we tend to see stronger teams and increased levels of job satisfaction.
But, then again, some employees can also feel “deserted” or abandoned and, without any leadership (or the perception of not having leadership), might be more inclined to take advantage of the situation and not contribute as much as they should be.
Teams that don’t have clear direction can “opt-out” of performance goals, leading to conflicts and internal strife.
In most situations, employees will generally respond better to reasoned thought and logic instead of unquestionable direction. This encourages well-being, productivity, collaboration, and greater efficiency in the workplace.
But, if employees are aware of their lack of actual influence on critical decisions and operations, this could also lead to resentment, frustration, and less than desirable productivity.
In situations where creative thinking is encouraged and valued, companies generally enjoy higher levels of innovation and development than companies that don’t embrace this style of management. When it works, it works very well, and more and more companies are beginning to adapt to this type of leadership structure.
A potential downside is that staff may begin to feel they are under constant criticism from their managers and feel as if they need to “keep up” all the time. Because of this, they could suffer from burnout or the feeling that they’re being monitored as opposed to supported, causing feelings of suspicion or resentment.
This management style demands a high level of “buy-in” from staff, and if you don’t have the majority of your team on your side, this can cause issues.
This is a common type of management style for an experimental company trying out new trends. It may become a more preferred style of management in the future.
As we’ve already seen, it can be beneficial to know which management styles most reflect the diversity of your workplace. It is also crucial to be aware of the type of function your department has, the service provided by your company, or the business that your enterprise is in.
But, just like we outlined in the “pros” and “cons” section, there can be some challenges in differing styles too. There is a relatively simple series of questions you can ask yourself to determine which style will work best for your company.
These questions can be an easy way to understand the holistic nature of the management style that you’re dealing with and this, in turn, allows you to identify the most relevant challenges to you.
As you learn more about your management team, you can inspire your leadership direction in different ways, like remaining humble and displaying self-confidence from a place of maturity.
You will find yourself being more consistent with your “follow-through” despite the challenges your teams may face, staying motivated in the face of high pressure, and above all else, trusting your teams and inviting them to trust you in return.
“Motivation” is a word that can often come dangerously close to being overused without really understanding its impact.
But there is really only one way to go about it; leaders who take the time to understand their staff on an individual level and find out what motivates them to get up and come to work each day are going to go a long way to helping you get the best out of them.
This pursuit can also be used for far more nefarious ends than the noble goal of “motivation” for growth. Some leaders can also extract information from their teams to manipulate performance.
While this may get you the result, you won’t have your team members around for too long, as employees see through this sort of thing, and there is no example of successful leadership that uses this type of manipulation effectively.
But when you know why your teams are in the roles they’re in on a personal level; you’ll also be able to understand the skillsets of the people you’re working with. You also need to learn what their levels of emotional intelligence are. When you know what those elements are, you’ll know which management styles are the most appropriate.
You should know that you don’t necessarily have to employ one particular style of management. In some cases, a combination of two or more different management styles could be used to drive your department or business.
When you know the individual circumstances of your team members, you will also learn how to tailor development and training opportunities and how to create incentive programs that work to empower and reward.
Doing this on an individual level for each employee will require more work on your part but will garner better results for sure.
In today’s highly competitive world, there will never be a one size fits all approach to anything; those days (if they ever truly existed at all) are well behind us. Wise leaders know that when collaborative decision-making is utilized as a part of your company's “best management styles,” staff feel valued and encouraged.
Creating a corporate culture that inspires employee well-being starts with knowing who your teams are and meeting them where they’re at. Demonstrating that team members’ professional development is taken seriously turns good leaders into great leaders because when your teams look good, you look great.
There could be several reasons why departments are not functioning at peak level performance. It’s your job to get to the bottom of it.
A lack of knowledge of how your leadership team is executing the management of their teams could be why knowledge is power, after all. When you ask the most questions, you control the conversation.
There are scientific ways that companies determine which style is most appropriate and relevant based on prevailing circumstances. Still, you can figure this out without too much need for overly sophisticated processes.
Using these management styles to best direct and encourage your team will change how your organization runs. Try them out and see how they work for you. You might even be surprised how well they work.