Exploring the Management Styles of Effective Leaders

Effective management in a workplace requires a set of skills well outside what you would naturally develop as an individual employee at an organization. Beyond the hiring of employees and ensuring work is completed on time, a manager’s role is to motivate their team and keep them invested in the team and the company’s success.

Studying business or an online MBA in management can help you determine the management style you are best suited to. A management style is the means by which a manager works to achieve the goals of a project, team, or company. This may include how they plan, organize, make decisions or delegate, as well as how they choose to interact with their team. Understanding and implementing a style that works for both yourself and your employees is the key to developing respectful relationships.

There are three broad categories of management styles; autocratic, democratic, and laissez-faire. Within each of these categories, there are sub-categories. Overall we examine nine different methods and the pros and cons of each management style.

Autocratic management styles

Autocratic management follows a top-down approach, where the manager generally makes the majority of decisions. This can include what a team should focus on, short and long-term goals, projects, right down to the individual tasks required to complete an initiative.

Autocratic management is the most controlling of all the management styles, with the manager making all decisions and holding all of the ‘power’.

Advantages

  • Decisions can be made quickly as there is only one decision-maker

Disadvantages

  • Autocratic management can steer dangerously close to micromanagement
  • Collaboration can suffer as team members are less inclined to offer suggestions as there is only one decision-maker

The subcategories of autocratic management styles are persuasive and paternalistic.

Persuasive management style

Managers who use the persuasive management style continue to be the sole decision-makers. However, rather than simply delegating employees to perform tasks, they will take the time to share the logic and rationale behind their decisions. This is done to help make team members feel more connected and reduce tension surrounding the decision.

Advantages

  • Particularly useful for new or junior-level team members who do not have strong decision-making skills yet
  • An explanation for the decision invites trust between the manager and the team member

Disadvantages

  • Despite explanations, team members can still feel communication is one-sided as their feedback is not taken into account which can induce frustration

Paternalistic management styles

Slightly more giving than persuasive management, the paternalistic management style still retains the manager as the single decision-maker, but the team’s interests are always kept front of mind. Team members are encouraged to share their wants or opinions and this is a strong factor when making the decision. However, there is still no collaboration between the manager and employees about the decision itself. Team members may often be referred to as “family” by management.

Advantages

  • Team member well-being is always at the heart of a decision
  • Unlike other autocratic styles, paternalistic management actively encourages team members to express their desires

Disadvantages

  • Resentment may grow amongst employees who do not embrace the ‘business as a family’ concept
  • Loyalty and trust are imperative to this style – if there is no trust, the ‘best for your well-being’ approach can appear condescending

Democratic management style

Democratic management style involves managers encouraging employees to give input during the decision-making process, but they are still ultimately responsible when making the final decision. Communication goes both ways, creativity and engagement are fostered, and contribution from all team members is considered.

A democratic manager will also encourage team members to create their own goals.

Advantages

  • Team members are provided with the context they need to succeed
  • Collaborating as a team often leads to better ideas and solutions
  • There is high engagement and buy-in from a team as they consider themselves contributors

Disadvantages

  • Collaboration can make the decision-making process longer as there are more contributors with potentially conflicting views

The two styles of democratic management are consultative and transformational.

Consultative management style

Managers with a consultative management style will consistently seek feedback from their team and will rarely make decisions without consulting them in some form. Consultative managers are often viewed as mentors, and they strive to educate their team through the decision-making process.

Advantages

  • It encourages healthy, robust communication among team members
  • It encourages upward feedback
  • Innovation is encouraged

Disadvantages

  • It can generate inefficiencies as there are many people involved in the decision-making process
  • If a manager is not skilled in time management, they can easily be bogged down in managing feedback and conversations
  • There is potential for particular team members to be viewed as ‘favourites’ if their feedback is heeded more often than others

Transformative management style

A transformative management style focuses on creating a culture that encourages adaptability, innovation, and problem-solving. These managers will often invest in the long-term growth of a team, work alongside their employees, and set lofty targets and goals to encourage continuous improvement.

Advantages

  • Works well for team members looking to grow in their career
  • Can provide purpose to more mundane projects by looking at ‘the bigger picture’
  • Creative thinking is strongly encouraged

Disadvantages

  • Difficult goals can backfire if the team is not motivated enough to achieve them, which can result in burnout or high turnover

Laissez-faire management style

Laissez-faire translates to ‘let it go’ in French which embodies this management style. Laissez-faire managers take the most hands-off approach to management and trust their staff to do their work without supervision. Team members have the freedom to make their own decisions, problem-solve, and only involve their manager if they desire. The only other time a laissez-faire manager may be present is if something is seriously wrong with a project.

Advantages

  • Team members are encouraged to come up with their own processes
  • Increased autonomy fosters trust between the manager and team member

Disadvantages

  • Unless a team member is experienced, they may struggle with their work
  • If not implemented correctly, a team member may feel lost or unsupported
  • There is likely no context as to why a team member is doing particular work as there is likely no connection to the company objectives

Visionary management style

Rather than dealing with the day-to-day operations, a visionary manager will educate and inspire team members on the larger vision of the organization. Leaders may explain their goals and reasoning, convincing their team to execute this vision. A visionary manager is likely to be extroverted and charismatic.

Advantages

  • Gets employees passionate about their work which can help productivity and engagement
  • Team members are likely more satisfied resulting in lower turnover

Disadvantages

  • Feigning inspiration will not work – the manager must be truly passionate about the company for this style to be effective
  • It embraces leadership over management

Delegative management style

A delegative management style involves a system where managers only interact with team members when delegating tasks, although they are still responsible for the task being completed. Team members will have the freedom to complete tasks as they see fit, and the manager will step back in at the end of a project to review the work. The cycle will then begin again.

Advantages

  • Creativity and out-of-the-box thinking are allowed
  • No risk of micro-managing
  • Fosters trust between manager and employee

Disadvantages

  • There is no clear feedback cycle which may result in misaligned outcomes between manager and employee
  • Conflict resolution at a manager level is non-existent
  • Team members may feel there is no contribution from management which may breed resent

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