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What is Your Management Style? Tips for Impactful Leadership

A leader standing confidently in front of charts on a whiteboard.

People experience dozens of workplace managers, victories, and failures in their lifetimes. A good manager shapes our skills and empowers us for the next career stage. A bad manager is one we still badmouth over drinks years later. The thing is, we remember our worst managers just as much as we do our favorites.

Managing people can be as exciting as it is nerve-wracking because it involves a lot of responsibility, emotional intelligence, and moving parts to ensure success. When done correctly, management can be incredibly transformational. When done poorly, it can negatively impact your reputation and organizational growth.

We all desire employee engagement, lower turnover rates, and better business outcomes. Yet, one of the most prominent challenges leaders face is finding the best management style that suits them and their organization. That’s why this article will answer common questions like:

  • What is a management style?

  • What factors influence management styles?

  • What types of management styles are there?

  • How can I grow professionally?

If you’re in a leadership position, pat yourself on the back. You’ve made it this far, and we see your dedication to a shared vision. Let us help you better understand management style options so that you can create and implement guidelines best suited for you and your organization.

What is a Management Style?

A management style describes how managers fulfill company goals through planning, organizing, decision-making, delegating, and leading their staff.

Management styles vary widely from person to person but can depend on the company, country, culture, experience level, and industry. People might use different management styles throughout their careers instead of just one. However, an effective manager adjusts their style in response to various factors while staying target-focused.

A leader and co-workers around a meeting table.

What Factors Influence Management Styles?

Internal and external factors affect management styles.

Internal Factors

Internal factors include:

  • Company culture

  • Employee engagement

  • Policies

  • Priorities

  • Staff skill levels

Generally, higher-skilled staff require less supervision. A less skilled team demands more monitoring to achieve objectives consistently.

External Factors

External factors include:

  • Competitors

  • Consumers

  • Economy

  • Employment laws/regulations

  • Suppliers

External factors are those outside the company’s control that still affect both managers and employees.

What Types of Management Styles Are There?

There are three broad categories of management styles. These include:

  • Autocratic

  • Democratic

  • Laissez-faire

Within these categories are specific subtypes of management styles, each with situational pros and cons.

Two co-workers examining paperwork together.

Autocratic Management Styles

Autocratic management styles follow a top-down approach, with one-way communication from managers to employees. In this environment, employees are not encouraged to ask questions, submit ideas, or share suggestions for improvement.

The subtypes of autocratic management style include:

  • Authoritative

  • Paternalistic

  • Persuasive

Autocratic management styles are the most controlling, with management holding power and making all workplace decisions. In this role, managers define clear parameters and closely monitor employee performance.

Authoritative Management Style

In this style, managers set specific expectations for their subordinates and punish those who do not comply. Supervision is direct and constant, as managers believe employees will only operate successfully with micromanagement.

Pros:

  • Productivity increases, but only when the manager is present

  • Quick decision-making with clearly defined roles and expectations

  • Setting clear and solid expectations allows unskilled workers or large teams to operate without uncertainty

Cons:

  • Increase in the dissatisfaction of employees, leading to higher turnover, resentment, lack of professional development, loss of employee engagement

  • Forms of an ‘us’ vs. ‘them’ mentality between employees and management

  • Stifles innovation and ensures inefficient processes remain in place

When to use: This style is successful in times of organizational crisis when managers must make and execute decisions quickly. Otherwise, we recommend you avoid this style.

An angry-looking manager telling employees around a table what to do.

Paternalistic Management Style

A key indicator of this style is that the organization will refer to its employees as ‘family,’ demanding trust and loyalty. Management still utilizes unilateral decision-making but explains to employees that they come from a place of expertise and legitimacy. There is no room for subordinate collaboration or questioning.

Pros:

  • Managers focus on their employees’ welfare, often basing decisions on what’s best for the staff

  • Upskilling and staff education are valued, leading to happier, higher-skilled, and more productive employees

Cons:

  • Staff can become too dependent on management, which leads to decreased problem-solving and innovation

  • This style can breed resentment among employees who do not believe in the organization as a ‘family’ concept

  • Employees may find this style condescending and infantilizing

When to use: The success of this style is heavily culture-dependent. In Western countries with less reliance on hierarchical structures, employees will be less accepting of the idea of a benevolent leader. Smaller companies may succeed in this leadership type, but larger organizations should avoid it.

Persuasive Management Style

Here, managers use their persuasive skills to convince employees that the implemented decisions are for the good of the department, team, or organization. While inviting questions, they explain the decision-making process and rationale behind new or existing policies.

Pros:

  • Employees will feel they are trusted, valued, and involved in critical business decisions

  • People respond more positively to reason and logic than the threat of punishment

  • Staff accept top-down choices quicker and feel less constricted

Cons:

  • Employees will still sour under restrictions placed on them

  • Staff become frustrated and resentful that they cannot give feedback, create solutions, or upskill in influential ways

When to use: This style is best employed if you have more subject experience than the team you are leading or need to manage upwards. Remember, explaining your thought process is helpful, but you are still the expert in this situation.

Persuasive Managment Style

Democratic Management Styles

In democratic management styles, managers are ultimately responsible for the final decision but encourage employees to give input during the decision-making process. The subtypes of democratic management style include:

  • Coaching

  • Collaborative

  • Consultive

  • Participative

  • Transformational

In these styles, communication goes both ways (top-down and bottom-up), and team cohesiveness increases. The process allows for informed decisions based on diverse opinions, skills, and ideas.

Coaching Management Style

This style is similar to the coach/sports team dynamic. Here, the manager’s job is to develop and guide their team, putting professional development as their top priority. Coaching managers value long-term development above short-term failures, promoting employee learning, skill development, and growth.

Pros:

  • Employees feel valued and tend to be more engaged

  • Staff are more likely to put forth their best work due to the strong bond they share with management

  • Staff continue to improve on and develop skill sets, bettering the company

Cons:

  • Staff may compete for favored roles and development tasks, which can lead to toxic work environments

  • Focusing on only long-term development can leave short-term projects lacking proper support

When to use: Best used when organizations want to promote and develop talent from within. Industries with competitive job markets benefit most from this style, as recruiting outside candidates costs time and money.

Collaborative Management Style

Collaborative managers create an open forum for discussing ideas before making decisions based on majority rule. Employees involved in the process are empowered to take ownership of outcomes. While time-consuming, this style can increase engagement, innovation, and creativity.

Pros:

  • Staff members feel heard, trusted, and valued by all levels of their management team

  • Managers inspire subordinates to find collaborative solutions to problems, engage entirely with the process and put forth their best work

  • Open communication allows for the resolution of workplace conflicts before real issues arise, and diverse voices lead to better solutions and outcomes

  • Turnover decreases when employees are engaged

Cons:

  • Similar to other democratic management styles, this process can be time-consuming

  • Majority rule is not always the best choice for an organization

  • If a decision is not in the organization’s best interests, management will still need to step in and change it

When to use: Use this style to foster innovation, drive collaboration, and engage employees. Any organization that wants to increase trust, especially in the face of significant organizational changes, should consider this style.

Collaborativ Management Style

Consultative Management Style

Leaders often utilize this style in specialized fields where staff are experts. Employee input allows management to make informed decisions. In this style, managers ask for their team’s opinions and thoughts, consulting every team member’s viewpoints. The manager still makes the final decision but considers all staff input.

Pros:

  • This style promotes a deeper staff-management bond and builds trust within teams

  • Management grows alongside the team, learning from the ideas, opinions, and experiences of the employees that they lead

  • Innovation and opinion voicing are encouraged, leading to better problem-solving skills

Cons:

  • Consulting staff can be laborious and time-intensive

  • Management must be skilled in time management, or they will quickly become bogged down

  • Employees may resent or distrust management if there is an appearance of favoritism or passive listening

  • Excessive reliance on this style leads to loss of staff trust, as they will start to wonder why they are called to problem solve instead of management

When to use: Use this style when managing teams with specialized skills or if you have less experience with the subject than your subordinates.

Participative Management Style

In this style, managers and staff are equal members of the decision process. Management provides staff access to company information and goals, encouraging them to innovate solutions. Management works alongside staff members to make decisions, and the company acts on them.

Pros:

  • Employees feel valued by their management team and company, responding with increased motivation and productivity

  • The more subordinates understand and connect with the organization’s goals, the higher their engagement and innovation

Cons:

  • This process is generally slow

  • Staff with bold personalities tend to steamroll less assertive staff members, which can lead to conflicts and resentment

  • Allowing staff access to sensitive information is risky in industries with trade secrets

When to use: Employ this style if you need to implement significant organizational changes or if you wish to drive innovation (like in tech companies), especially if your staff usually is resistant to new concepts or strategies. Encouraging staff participation results in positive outcomes and less resistance to new policies.

Transformational Management Style

This management style is agile and growth-focused. Here, managers encourage their staff towards outstanding accomplishments, regularly push them past their comfort zones, and consistently motivate them to raise the bar for achievements. Managers who work alongside their employees inspire others to more extraordinary efforts by demonstrating work ethic.

Pros:

  • Employees easily adapt to change, disruptions, and challenging projects

  • Creative thinking and innovation increase

  • Problem-solving and product development benefit from increased staff flexibility

Cons:

  • When not used carefully, this style can cause staff to burn out

  • Staff may feel spread too thin, worn out from constantly pushing themselves, or unable to keep up with the pace

When to use: This style helps teams develop flexibility when responding to outside and inside forces. Implement this style within a fast-paced industry or if you anticipate changes within your organization or department.

A team with all hands-in.

Laissez-faire Management Styles

Management takes a hands-off approach to leadership in Laissez-faire management styles. Instead, subordinates are trusted to do their work without supervision and control their decision-making and problem-solving.

The subtypes of the Laissez-faire management style include:

  • Delegative
  • Visionary

Management is present for the delegation and delivery stages of work. However, they step back and allow their staff to control workflow and outcomes. Leadership is only involved during the process if subordinates specifically request their assistance.

Delegative Management Style

Delegative managers are only present to assign tasks. While the manager is still responsible for completing tasks, the employees are empowered to do the work as they see fit. After project completion, the manager steps in for work review, possible improvements, and advice on future tasks.

Pros:

  • In organizations with highly skilled workers, innovation and creativity are fostered

  • Problem-solving and teamwork strengthen as staff provide space to handle issues and work together to solve them

  • Job satisfaction increases in those who crave workplace autonomy

Cons:

  • Productivity may suffer without leadership

  • Teams may experience a lack of focus, direction, or uniformity

  • Poorly managed conflicts may continue to flare up, breeding resentment

  • Staff may feel that their managers do not contribute anything toward the team’s success

When to use: Employ this style in organizations with decentralized leadership, where the team is more skilled than the manager in tasks.

Visionary Management Style

Visionary managers lead by inspiring their staff. They explain their goals and reasoning, convincing their team to execute their vision. Managers will check in occasionally but ultimately trust the shared vision will keep employees on track and produce good results. They give praise liberally and offer constructive feedback during and after the process.

Pros:

  • Staff believe in what they create and complete tasks to the best of their ability

  • Employees report higher satisfaction, engagement, innovation, problem-solving

  • Turnover rates decrease

Cons:

  • Not all leaders can be legitimately inspiring, so the style remains dependent on the job, industry, product, and person

  • You cannot fake this style

  • Honest inspiration is required, or employees will not perform well (if at all)

When to use: This can be an excellent style for nonprofits trying to find creative problem solutions, tech companies looking to disrupt industries, and companies with a strong sense of purpose.

Visionary Management Style

How Can I Grow Professionally?

Now that you’re familiar with different management styles, you’re ready to take the next steps to reach your goals. To set yourself up for success, write down your goals and examine the pros and cons of each management style best suited to achieve them.

Even if you feel confident in your current management style, there’s always room for improvement. Consider the tools you need to become a more effective manager and the environment that will allow your team to thrive.

Professional Development and Career Training

Sitting down for formal classes never hurts if you’re trying to be the best possible manager. Grow your business and retain employees by offering training through the REDC. We will collaborate with you, assessing your needs to deliver high-quality, all-level training in a format that works for you.

Some of our most popular training areas include:

  • Customer Service

  • Project Management

  • Strategic Planning

  • Supervisory and Leadership Skills (Our Leadership 101 course is a great place to start)

  • Team Building and Conflict Management

  • Time Management

  • And More!

Our relevant and affordable training increases opportunities for residents, employees, and businesses. Plus, they develop the skill sets that Yavapai County employers look to hire. Contact us today to improve your management skills and bring yourself up to the next level.

Home LinkThe BWS is a Division of Yavapai College.Go to yc.edu

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