Updated: Mar 31
Your management style depends on the specific goals you hope to achieve, your organization, as well as the people you are managing. Each style offers its own benefits and drawbacks. One style will not fit every type of situation, therefore, you should consider your own character traits, your temperament, the employees you have, and your business needs to select the right approach.
What is a management style?
A management style refers to the methods a person uses to manage an individual, meeting, project, team, or organization. Your management style informs others how you organize your work, make decisions, plan and use authority. You may use a variety of management styles depending on the situation at hand.
Effective managers use different styles to support their needs and goals at any given time. When selecting a management style, managers make the following considerations:
- The volume of work to complete and how quickly it must be done
- Their industry and company culture
- Their personality and management qualities
- Their team and company goals
- The attitudes and personalities of the people they are managing
What are the types of management styles?
An authoritative manager take a top-down approach to leading. In this style, managers make decisions on their own. They set clear and specific policies that everyone must follow, and they typically don't request feedback from employees.
Advantages: Allows decisions to be made swiftly and is most helpful in important/crisis situations.
Disadvantages: Stifles innovation and when used in the wrong circumstances, can lead to a high turnover.
Consultative managers ask employees for feedback consistently and take employee concerns seriously. They often have an open-door policy that encourages employees to share what is and isn’t working in the organization. While managers will consult with employees, they ultimately retain sole decision-making power.
Advantages: This type of management style often leads to higher employee engagement, stronger problem-solving as a team and less turnover.
Disadvantages: A consultative management style isn’t always as efficient as an autocratic style since more people are involved in making decisions.
A democratic or participative manager’s decision-making process is heavily influenced by their employees. This style includes effective communication and openness through all levels of the organization, and employees and managers work together to reach the goals of their vision. Democratic management style is especially effective when it comes to making long-term decisions that impact the whole company.
Advantages: This style typically leaves employees feeling valued and empowered to contribute in meaningful ways. It also encourages them to tap into their full potential at work.
Disadvantages: Like the consultative management style, it’s also not as efficient. Decision-making often involves debates and consulting multiple parties, which can take time.
In the laissez-faire management style, managers are more like mentors than leaders. They’re available when employees need guidance, but they often let employees make decisions on their own about how to move forward with projects. Laissez-faire management has numerous similarities with another style called “management by walking around.” In this management style, managers monitor what’s happening with employees, but don’t become too involved with the day-to-day tasks or projects.
Advantages: The laissez-faire style can be effective because it gives self-motivated employees the autonomy and space they need to be productive. This could be particularly useful in a creative environment.
Disadvantages: Because this management style is hands-off, it can leave some employees feeling neglected or in need of guidance and direction.
Persuasive managers hold control of decision-making but work to help employees understand why decisions made by management are best for the company. They share an honest rationale behind decision-making policies that can foster an inclusive and trusting environment. When an organization is successful, employees generally accept top-down decisions and work hard to implement them.
Advantages: This style instructs and motivates employees with reason and logic, which some individuals prefer to authoritative management. It can be especially helpful when leading a less experienced team.
Disadvantages: While persuasive management isn’t as dominating as authoritative management, it’s still a one-way communication process and employees don’t necessarily have an avenue to give feedback.
A transformational management style focuses on creating an environment that supports innovation. Leaders with this style often push their employees to set and reach goals even if it makes them slightly uncomfortable. These managers collaborate with and inspire direct reports to reach past their full potential and aim for professional growth.
Advantages: Adaptability, problem-solving and innovation typically increase with this management style. It can be especially useful for companies in competitive industries that change quickly.
Disadvantages: This management style requires the right kind of employees. If they’re not ready to adapt or too many changes occur too quickly, they might not be willing to follow top-down ideas.
Collaborative leaders work closely with their team members and believe that when people feel personally and professionally fulfilled, they’re more effective and more likely to produce great work regularly. Because of their emphasis on employee satisfaction and teamwork, they tend to achieve higher levels of respect.
A collaborative leader is an excellent leadership style for organizations of any industry and size, but is especially prevalent within nonprofits. These types of leaders are exceptionally skilled in building employee morale and helping people re-engage with their work.
Advantages: Collaborative leaders have the capacity to boost employee loyalty and productivity, improve employee development and decision-making, cultivate trust and create future leaders. They are also typically more in-the-know when it comes to challenges of getting work done on their team.
Disadvantages: Collaborative leaders can become burnt out as they attempt to boost collaboration with and between their team members. They might also find it difficult to create time and space for high-level, strategic planning.
What are things you can do to improve your management style?
A management style that is incompatible with the person, project, or situation at hand can produce less-than-ideal results. Leaders who tend to stick to one management style without questioning themselves are not as effective at solving problems and meeting goals as leaders who can change styles. Therefore, finding ways to learn and improve offer a great starting point.
The next step to take in making this improvement is to assess your personal and team needs and comparing those with your current skills, experience, and personality. Ask, "Do I have the tools to meet those demands? If not, explore ways to close your skills gap, identify the milestones that will help you reach your goal, and track your progress.
You can ask for feedback from your direct reports, peers, or more senior leadership as well as suggest additional training. Successful managers typically maintain flexibility, mindfulness and the desire to master multiple management styles.