Management styles and their characteristics
Different scenarios and situations require different management styles for organizational success. Due to the diversity of your employees, each one may thrive — or falter! — when placed under the leadership aegis of certain types of managers. When deciding upon management styles, overall and for each division, the goal is to remain adaptable enough to know when to pivot when something isn’t working well. Use this breakdown of each of the eight management styles to learn about the advantages and disadvantages each one brings to your company.
1. Democratic management style
Rooted in inclusivity and collaboration, the democratic management style engages employees by remaining open to new ideas and experimentation. These types of leaders seek input from employees before making decisions or delivering solutions, encouraging open communication and employee empowerment. Because this management style grants employees more freedom to use their voices and share their opinions, it often creates strong bonds between employees and leadership.
The democratic management style, however, does have its drawbacks. Because every stakeholder is involved in the problem-solving process, making decisions can be less efficient and consume more time, leading to organizational paralysis when those stakeholders can’t come to a consensus. Likewise, leaders with this management style may lack a sense of strong direction, which may lead to confusion as to who’s ultimately accountable for poor decisions.
2. Laissez-faire management style
Laissez-faire leaders are hands-off and maintain high confidence in their employees. Leaders who adopt this management style don’t micromanage their employees and grant them the freedom to work on their delegated tasks independently. The laissez-faire leadership style works best when managing highly experienced professionals who take ownership of and accountability for their work products. When these self-disciplined employees are given more autonomy, they often demonstrate greater initiative and more creativity.
On the flip side, some employees may feel they lack direction without clear-cut guidance and oversight, which can lead to inefficiency and confusion. The lack of structure inherent in this management style can also hamper coordination and collaboration between teams, leading to productivity challenges. Another issue is that without strong leadership, conflicts can occur between staff, hindering or creating a lack of consistency concerning decisions.
3. Autocratic management style
Centered on results and efficiency, autocratic managers usually make decisions on their own, devoid of employee collaboration and autonomy. Those with this management style believe in micromanaging employees to ensure they follow company policies and rely on authority to provide instruction. Some aspects of this management style may be useful when inexperienced employees need clear, strict expectations to solve a particular problem. For instance, a clear hierarchy and chain of command provide unambiguous leadership, enabling decisive action and maintaining order.
The downsides of autocratic management styles, however, are many. Low morale and reduced job satisfaction can occur when employees don’t feel involved in the process or have limited creativity in their positions, which may stifle worker growth and hamper innovation. Likewise, the top-down hierarchy may make some employees fearful and dependent on leadership, fostering a dysfunctional work environment lacking in trust. This management style may also overwhelm leaders by putting all accountability on them, which may make them hesitant to operate outside the box and consider diverse perspectives and ideas when making decisions.
4. Charismatic management style
Leaders with charismatic management styles are charming, highly persuasive and deeply committed to their cause, relying on these qualities to inspire and motivate those beneath them. These leaders are also interested in building personal relationships and rallying their teams around a common goal. This management style is useful for helping employees feel excited and supported, highly engaged and devoted to achieving business objectives.
There are downsides to this management style, such as dependence on the charismatic leader to sustain motivational levels. These leaders may also get so wrapped up in their vision for how things should be that they can’t perform critical analysis that demonstrates how things actually are, clouding objective decision-making. Likewise, unethical charismatic leaders can abuse their influence over others, putting their personal gain above your business’s bottom line.
5. Coach management style
Leaders who use the coaching management style often possess qualities similar to a sports team coach, with a focus on ensuring employees reach their full potential. A good coaching leader recognizes each employee’s unique strengths and weaknesses and determines how to help them become better professionals, quickly identifying what motivates each one to succeed. By fostering a positive, collaborative work setting with open communication and teamwork, these leaders often push employees to complete more challenging tasks that further develop their leadership talents and improve their areas of opportunity.
Coaches, however, may falter under the weight of dedicating all their time and attention to ongoing feedback and guidance, leading to the potential for burnout. Likewise, in structured work environments that require quick decision-making, coaching management styles may lead to inefficiency and lost production since these types of teams typically take a slower, more methodical approach to problem-solving.
6. Pacesetting management style
Leaders who practice the pacesetting management style often set high standards for their team and are especially concerned with speed and efficiency. Dedicated to motivating employees toward high performance levels, these leaders are always seeking new ways to boost productivity and expect the same from the employees they manage. This management style can help build trust among employees who recognize their manager adheres to the same standards they set for their team.
On the other hand, leaders with pacesetting management styles sometimes make employees feel overwhelmed by demands. By promoting such a sense of urgency and focusing so hard on results, these leaders may add stress and pressure that prevents employees from enjoying and doing their jobs properly. This can also lead to strained team relationships since performance trumps collaboration and support with pacesetting leaders. These conditions, in turn, may also lead to lower creativity and innovation due to burnout and strife.
7. Bureaucratic management style
Leaders who adhere to the bureaucratic style of management focus on assigning specific duties to employees within a well-defined hierarchy. They’re less concerned with collaboration and more interested in following rules, policies and procedures. Bureaucratic leaders assign each employee a set of responsibilities and independent tasks, and they streamline all work from top to bottom. Bureaucratic management styles are useful in heavily regulated industries but less effective in creative environments.
For example, the focus on rigid hierarchies and rules can limit innovation and prevent employees from adapting to changing conditions. Introducing new ideas or processes is generally frowned upon by these types of leaders, so this management style can lead to job dissatisfaction due to the lack of employee empowerment. Likewise, endless red tape and high loads of paperwork usually mean delays in the decision-making process due to a lack of agility and engagement.
8. Transactional management style
Leaders who follow a transactional management style enhance employee performance with positive rewards like bonuses and incentives and respond to negative outcomes with disciplinary action. They often act as mentors and provide explicit instruction to help increase performance and ensure employees consistently meet expectations. This management style is highly effective in helping teams hit sales and revenue goals but is less useful for leading teams or departments focused on driving innovation.
Though this approach offers a sense of fair play since rewards and punishments are typically based on objective criteria, this management style has disadvantages. For instance, the narrow focus on short-term results that help the team may come at the expense of long-term results that help the entire organization. Those who value creativity and collaboration may lack the support necessary for professional growth under these management styles, which may increase employee turnover.
Ultimately, identifying the best management style for each leadership role within your organization requires careful observation and consideration. And remember — great leaders are flexible and can pivot towards whichever management style is most effective in meeting the current needs of their teams and organizations.