10 Types of Management Styles for Effective Leaders

Whether you are leading a department or a business unit, your job is to create a high-performing team with a sole vision and understanding of success.

While the responsibilities of a manager are similar, it is natural to adapt your management style to your personality type and communication preferences. To grow as a leader and team, you must identify your default management style.

Skilled leaders are dot connectors, clarity providers, and context creators. Each manager is unique, has different experiences, education and will approach differently each situation.

Your approach makes your management style.

Even if you are not aware, you are using a management style. By identifying it, you can improve your management skills and tailor your style to best support and empower your team.

Next, we dive into the central management styles, their benefits and drawbacks, and when to use them.

What you will learn in this article?

  • What is the definition of management style?
  • What are the main factors influencing the management style?
  • Ten types of management style 
  • Why is identifying your management style essential for success?

1. What is the definition of management style?

A management style describes a manager's distinct approaches to support and guide a team.
Management style includes planning, making decisions, delegating, and managing your team. Throughout your career, you might use different management styles rather than sticking with just one. Your approach depends on the company, the level of management, industry, country, and culture, as well as your personality.

2. What are the main factors influencing the management style?

Effective managers adjust their management style in response to internal and external factors while focusing on achieving targets.

Internal factors include the company culture, policies, staff skill levels, and employee motivation. You and the leadership have a say when it comes to internal factors. 

Efficient managers fit their style into the company culture. Their style must comply with the policies set by the organization, and they must achieve the vision and goal of the company. Managers are responsible for leading an effective work team and must uphold organizational beliefs within that team. 

Staff skill levels and motivation affect management styles and vice versa. Less skilled employees would require a controlling management style that fosters supervision to ensure productivity. On the other hand, highly motivated employees need less guidance. As author Daniel Pink mentions that autonomy, motivation and mastery are the elements that help technically skilled people to stay motivated. These employees would benefit from a more relaxed management style.

External factors affecting management styles are outside the organization's control, but they influence both managers and employees. Managers lack control over employment laws, the economy, competitors, suppliers, and clients. 

For example, a competitor who offers a more friendly work environment will control the job pool by attracting and retaining the most talented employees. When the laws for a specific industry change, employees must change and adapt to the new rules.

3. Ten types of management styles

One of the most crucial decisions companies make is who they name a manager. Yet, according to a Gallup study, they get it wrong 8 out of 10 times. More precisely, Gallup finds that companies fail to choose the candidate with the right talent for the job 82% of the time.

When discussing management styles, it is vital to understand that management is not one size fits all. The most effective leaders will change the management style used at work to better fit the situation, tasks, problems and people.

Morover, a good leader requires knowledge, skills, and plenty of practice. One thing is for sure, if you're looking for good outcomes, be flexible with your management approach. 

Find below the best management styles to inspire the leader in you.

Autocratic Management Style

The autocratic manager makes unilateral decisions without seeking the input of the employee. They decide what the team should focus on, the short- and long-term goals, and which tasks and projects are associated with these initiatives. An autocratic manager delegates work to the team member they think is best suited for the job.

The advantages of an autocratic management style: 

  • It is easier to make quick decisions since the process is centralized.
  • The employees feel more comfortable and confident when a leader decides what they should do.

The disadvantages of an autocratic management style: 

  • Autocratic management can quickly turn into micromanagement.
  • Team members under autocratic managers are discouraged from sharing suggestions and ideas.

Best for crisis situations, when decisions need to be made quickly, and there is little room for error. Within the authoritative style, there are subcategories: paternalistic and persuasive.

Paternalistic Management Style

Paternalistic management is a one-sided decision-making process that minds the best interests of a team. Employees are like “family” members; the manager asks for and considers their feedback. However, the manager does not consult the staff about the decision itself.

The advantages of the paternalistic style: 

  • Managers are committed to the well-being of their team, establishing close and individualized relationships with subordinates and knowing every employee in person.
  • Team members are encouraged to express their desires and opinions to their manager. 

The disadvantages of the paternalistic style: 

  • Employees will rely on the manager more than they would in a typical work setting. If loyalty to the manager is not established fast, the staff may feel demotivated.
  • Managers can become blind to their power. Bad decisions from above cause high levels of employee dissatisfaction.

Best for organizations with excellent company culture, trustworthy environment, and strong employee connections. 

Persuasive Management Style

The persuasive managers aim to convince workforce that their decision is the best to follow. Managers have complete freedom in decision-making but have to share the judgement behind their decisions. The practice helps team-mates feel more connected with the overall decision-making process.

The advantages of a persuasive management style: 

  • Newly formed teams tend to adopt this style more so than tenured teams. 
  • It builds trust between the team members and the manager since the decisions are backed by explanation, reason, and logic. 

The disadvantages of a persuasive management style: 

  • Persuasive managers are not comfortable delegating tasks. They need to control every aspect of a project to ensure its success.
  • Persuasive management can be overwhelming, leading to burnout for the manager and the team.

Best for managers leading a junior-level team. Under this style, the manager is the sole decision-maker based on their experience but should share explanations to help their team grow.  

Democratic Management Style

The democratic or participative management style actively involves all members of the team. Every employee has the opportunity to participate, exchange ideas, and share their opinions. This management style encourages creativity and employee engagement. However, the manager still needs to provide guidance and direction.

The advantages of a democratic management style: 

  • The main benefit of the democratic management style is that more creative ideas lead to better solutions. 
  • Democratically-led teams have a high level of empowerment and alignment towards goal achievement. Such elements contribute to high level of energy and satisfaction among the team-members.

The disadvantage of a democratic management style:

  • This style can lead to communication failures, lack of decisions, and exceeded deadlines.
  • Team members may not have the necessary expertise to make quality contributions to the decision-making process.

Best for the teams that are constantly looking to improve their work. Within the democratic style, there are subcategories: Consultative, collaborative, and transformational.

Consultative Management Style

A subset of the democratic management style, consultative managers assume their team has the capability and knowledge to excel at their jobs. While the leaders make the final decision, they ask and consider employees’ thoughts, views, and opinions, allowing them to feel involved. 

The advantages of the consultative management style: 

  • This management style builds trust, empowers employees, and enables a more problem-solving environment.
  • A consultative leadership style builds relationships and healthy communication among teams.

The disadvantages of the consultative management style:

  • This style is less effective for urgent tasks as it involves many rounds of meetings.
  • Slow in decision-making as it takes more time to arrive at a consensus. 

Best for creative teams. Consultative managers want to take on more of a mentor role. They focus on new thoughts and ideas from a variety of individuals.  

Collaborative Management Style

Collaborative management brings managers, executives, and staff to work together and get results through collective intelligence. In collaborative workplaces, information is shared organically, and everyone takes responsibility for the whole.

The advantages of the collaborative management style:

  • According to Harvard Business Review, collaborative managers seek out a diversity of opinions and ideas among teammates to build strategies and solve problems.
  • Collaborative managers create an inclusive environment that energizes teams, boosts creativity, and cultivates a work culture that is both productive and friendly.

The disadvantages of the collaborative management style:

  • Collaboration can be difficult when team members work remotely. Remote working grants many advantages, such as flexibility and better work-life balance for employees. However, physical distance can become a barrier to collaboration.
  • Some employees might not get a chance to contribute, while others dominate the team. Such a management style can lead to disengagement, high turnover, and resentment.

Best for innovative organizations, open to new ideas, viewpoints, and skill sets. The collaboration management style is suited for the globalized, digitalized, interconnected modern world.

Transformational Management Style

Another category of democratic management is the transformational management style. This is a management style in which leaders encourage adaptability, inspire, and motivate employees to create change that will shape the company's future success. 

Transformational managers put a lot of emphasis in professional development of each member of their team. They care less about short-term projects and more about long-term development. They think about career plans, improving the skills of each team-member and even challenge themselves in how they can become better managers.

The advantages of a transformational management style: 

  • Transformational leadership lowers staff turnover by making people feel like they fit in, sharing the same goals with co-workers.
  • Transformational management style gives workers a lot of personal freedom. Employees are valued for their skills and experience. They are trusted to perform tasks to the best of their ability.

The disadvantages of a transformational management style:

  • Transformational management requires high levels of support from more detail-oriented team members to maintain a transactional focus, as the managers tend to focus on the bigger picture.
  • Transformational management style puts too much weight on the shoulders of employees. It can quickly lead to employee burnout.

Best for building effective teams that are adapting to new circumstances. By encouraging adaptability, transformative managers prepare their team for whatever may come their way.

Laissez-faire Management Style

Laissez-faire managers are the most hands-off managers. The word sounds French, yes. This is because the words 'Laissez Faire' translates by “leave it alone” or “let it be,” in French language. The Laissez-faire management style leans into a relaxed and autonomous approach. 

Instead of micromanaging employees or giving too much guidance, laissez-faire leaders boost employees to use their creativity, resources, and experience to meet their goals.

The advantages of a laissez-faire management style: 

  • A laissez-faire management style translates into higher retention rates. Employees feel confident in their work and want to stick around in an environment that makes them feel relaxed and relied on.
  • Laissez-faire means that subordinates have permission and authority to try new things. They think outside the box, and they are accountable for their work. This means they want to do the best job possible. 

The disadvantages of a laissez-faire management style: 

  • A laissez-faire manager does not provide structure and support for subordinates. This can sometimes be challenging for colleagues to embrace and avoid conflicts.
  • Sometimes laissez-faire leadership can be hard on morale because leaders may seem uncommitted. Had working employees, need to be seen and appreciated, and provide advice on achieving the vision, however when leaders are not directly involved in a particular project, it can rub employees the wrong way.

Best for dynamic teams that can deliver work in an individual way and constant supervision is not needed. Within the laissez-faire style, there are subcategories: visionary and delegative.

Visionary Management Style

A type of laissez-faire management, visionary leadership, is a style where an individual can see, develop and communicate a  business vision of the future to the team who in turn will help transform it into reality. 

Visionary managers can exhibit great energy and persistence in the pursuit and achievement of their desired goals. They overcome obstacles and maintain their vision and motivation, regardless of how difficult things become.

The advantages of visionary management style: 

  • A visionary manager sees the potential in their team and decides on a clear path to achieve it. The visionary management style stimulates creativity and out-of-the-box thinking. 
  • The visionary management style creates a strong sense of motivation and unity among team members as managers are genuinely passionate about their work.

The disadvantages of the visionary style: 

  • Visionary managers may take their focus off of the present to achieve long- term goals.
  • Because visionary management style is future-oriented, it can be not easy to adapt to sudden challenges such as absenteeism, resolve internal conflicts, or spot a short term opportunity.

Best for innovative teams looking to transform the team. When you're interested to disrupt an industry, or to visionary leaders are the right hiring decisions to make.

Delegative Management Style

Another type of laissez-faire management, the delegative leadership style, focuses on trusting and delegating initiative to team members. This is one of the least intrusive forms of leadership, where managers and team members only interact when managers are assigning the tasks and at the end of the project when they review the work. 

An effective delegative manager will take responsibility for decisions taken by the team. Such manager is not afraid in empowering the right people, and know very well the strengths of each individual. Having the power to decide is motivating for the employee, however if the accountability part remains with the manager, the sense of trust is boosted also.

The advantages of the delegative style: 

  • Delegative management style gives employees the occasion to exercise their talents and creativity. Managing this way will bring more flexibility into the workplace, leading to increased employee satisfaction and better company culture.
  • Delegative leadership removes the need to micromanage every detail. This style can allow supervisors and managers to reduce their workload and team members feel autonomous in their work.

The disadvantages of the delegative style: 

  • This leadership style takes a background role in projects. A delegative leader tends to de-emphasize their role with their direct reports.
  • A delegative leader share his fair share of work to their direct reports, to avoid key responsibilities.

Best for highly competent employees that have more professional expertise than the manager. In such situations like this, the manager acts as a facilitator, delegating their responsibility to the expert employee.

4. Why is identifying your management style essential for success?

Understanding different management styles helps leaders identify where, when, and why they should adapt their style. Effective leadership is not linked to a singular management style. It is a combination of knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors while focusing on the task and concern for those undertaking that job.

For you as a manager, leadership is the key to success. Understanding your management style is vital for accomplishing your goal. Why? Once you identify your leadership style, you can have a clear idea of your strengths as well as your weaknesses. You will become a more effective leader with a clear image of your strengths and weaknesses.

Your management style guides you in your role as an authority figure. Knowing your leadership style will help you better communicate with those you lead.

Understanding the advantages and disadvantages of each style of leadership can help you make better decisions and implicitly boost your your success and the results of those you are guiding.

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