Management Styles: Which One Works for You?


What do you know about management styles? There’s a lot more to it than ‘good’ and ‘bad’. For established managers, aspiring leaders and enthusiastic employees, expanding your knowledge about management styles can help you reach your long-term career goals.

Management Styles for Bosses and Employees

To all the bosses and aspiring managers out there, being aware of different managerial styles and which one you employ can help you to be better than ever. Understanding your leadership style can help you to find ways of optimising your performance and therefore that of your team.

What are the strengths of your style? The pitfalls? How can you adapt your techniques to get the most out of every team member? Your style will depend on a variety of factors, including your personality, level of experience and team. However, identify your management style and you will be able to answer these questions.

For employees, their boss’s behaviour can often baffle. Maybe trying to impress them can seem an impossible task. (Or maybe they simply drive you mad!) To help you make sense of things, take a look at the management styles below. Which one sounds the most like your manager?

What makes a great manager?

Generally speaking, good managers are those who successfully achieve their primary objective. Whether it’s guiding a call centre team to hit their KPIs, or pushing a sales team to smash their targets, every manager has an overall goal. Good managers are those who reach that goal with a happy team.

That being said, it’s a tricky question to answer. For some, a laid-back boss who feels more like a friend than a manager is the dream. Whereas, for others, a strict manager who commands respect and sets high standards is the definition of the ideal superior. Whichever kind of manager you prefer, each will employ one (or maybe more) of many leadership styles.

Common Management Styles

Here’s a rundown of four of the most frequently employed types of management.

1. Autocratic Management

The autocrat leader style is probably one of the least favoured on our list. Complete control over all decisions, close supervision, micro-management and lack of trust characterise autocratic leadership. An autocratic, or authoritarian, manager dictates how things are done with team members having little or no say and expects employees to follow blindly. Rules are very important and innovative thinking is usually discouraged.

Although it sounds pretty terrible, autocratic management has its place. For instance, in small teams with a lack of direction, during projects or within companies where decisions need to be made quickly or in institutions such as the military. An autocratic style can create order and organisation where these are lacking and resolve stressful situations. However, it has its downsides, too. Employees can often feel disheartened and disrespected, meaning morale is low and relations are poor.

When dealing with an autocratic boss, tread carefully. This isn’t to say that you must become a ‘yes man’, but when challenging, questioning or saying no to this type of boss, you have to be smart. To get what you want from them, you need to make them feel like they’ve had the idea or made the decision.

2. Democratic Style

A democratic leader is, for all intents and purposes, the polar opposite of an autocratic one. Under democratic leadership, employees are involved in and feel part of the decision-making process. Creativity and contribution are not only welcomed, but encouraged. The leader will still have control over the final decision, but the team are involved and made to feel like their input is important. Democratic leaders place value on being fair and honest.

One of the benefits to this type of leadership is that team members tend to be happier in their jobs. This means they are more likely to stay put and work hard toward a shared goal. In addition to this, with more ideas being batted around, it opens so many more doors when it comes to ways of working. The drawback with this particular style is that sometimes communication can crumble, wires can get crossed and things can slip through the cracks.

The best way to deal with democratic leadership is to be open and honest as possible. Never be afraid to share your ideas!

3. Laissez Faire

‘Laissez faire’ roughly translates from French to ‘let them do’. So, this gives you the general idea behind this particular type of management. This is a very laid-back approach to management, sometimes this is intentional, but other times it’s merely due to a lack of effort. Either way, employees are left to their own devices, with the manager only stepping in when absolutely necessary.

Even though it sounds like chaos, the laissez faire management style is particularly effective for autonomous or technically skilled individuals who prefer to work independently. However, for those who require more direction, this management style is ineffective.

Ultimately, the only way to handle this sort of manager is to get on with things. If you need support, it may be better to turn to your colleagues.

4. Management by Walking Around

Some managers appear to be anchored to their desks. Others you never really see. Conversely to this, management by walking around (MBWA) is a very hands-on technique. Managers who use MBWA are visible in the office, usually weaving between workers to see how they’re getting on and if they need assistance.

The great thing about this style of management is that employees feel engaged. They know they have the support they need and that the manager cares. On the other hand, it can waste time and feel like you have your boss breathing down your neck!

There’s not much you can do about this type of management. Take advantage of the support and advice when you need it and just stay focused on what you’re doing.

Bringing it all together

There are numerous other management styles, from Chaotic to Transformational, from Persuasive to Asian Paternalistic! Mastering management takes time, patience and experience, but remember that every employee and manager is different. It’s all about making it work.

Flexibility in style can help managers to inspire their employees to excel. Employees, remember that utilising your manager’s style to your advantage can help you to get what you need!


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