10 Management Styles To Lead Effectively: Overview and Examples

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 24 August 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

A management style describes the methods that you use to manage a person, project, meeting, group of people or company. Your management style may inform how you organise work, plan, make decisions and use authority. You might use a range of management styles in your professional life depending on certain circumstances. In this article, we define several common management styles, explain when to use them and discuss how each style is effective.

Why do people use different management styles?

An effective manager uses a variety of management styles to support their goals and needs. When they decide which management style to apply, they may consider the following factors:

  • The personalities and attitudes of the people they are managing

  • Their company and team goals

  • Their management qualities and personality

  • The company culture and industry

  • The volume of work to complete and how quickly they can complete it

Related: Management Skills: Definitions and Examples

Why is it important to determine your management style?

Understanding your natural style based on your values, character traits and personality can help you determine your strengths and weaknesses as a leader. Another reason to determine your management style is to help you decide if it's compatible with your present situation and to eventually identify what type of environment you want to lead within. Knowing how you manage is crucial to being an outstanding leader and helping you grow in the role so you can mentor others and help contribute to a satisfactory work environment for employees.

Related: 18 Good Leadership Qualities for Career Success

Top 10 management styles

Although managers may use a combination of the styles below depending on their circumstances, here's an overview of the top 10 management styles, ranked in order of effectiveness:

1. Participative or democratic

A participative or democratic manager's decision-making process considers the ideas or opinions of employees. This management style is perhaps the most effective management style, as it includes openness through all levels of the company, as well as effective communication. Managers and employees work together to reach goals they share. This style can be effective when making long-term decisions that affect the entire organisation. It can leave employees feeling valued and empowered to contribute meaningfully. This management style can also encourage people to work towards their full potential.

Store managers often use the democratic management style. They usually hire employees who can work collaboratively to complete marketing campaigns, arrange store layouts and provide excellent customer service. These managers serve as a moderator to help their employees move forward with their ideas and are available to respond to questions.

2. Consultative

A consultative manager regularly asks employees for feedback and takes their concerns seriously. They usually implement an open-door policy that allows employees to share what is and isn't working in the company. Although managers consult employees, they retain sole decision-making power. A consultive management style can lead to stronger problem-solving as a team, higher employee engagement and less turnover. However, it may not be as effective as the autocratic style, as it involves more people in the decision-making process.

A consultative manager usually conducts weekly one-on-one meetings with each member of the team. They may ask each member to share progress reports, what they think is going well and what they think needs improvement. The team manager uses this feedback to prioritise goals, allocate budget and oversee schedules for the following week.

Related: How To Be a Good Supervisor (With Steps and Tips)

3. Transformational

A transformational management style focuses on establishing an environment that supports innovation. Managers with this style usually motivate their employees to achieve their goals. These managers closely work with and inspire direct reports to reach past their full potential and pursue greater professional growth.

With this management style, an employee's innovation, problem-solving and adaptability can increase. It can be especially useful for organisations in competitive industries that change quickly. For example, you can usually find transformational managers in the technology industry. These managers are always adapting to the market, and they inspire and challenge their employees to develop extraordinary products.

4. Collaborative

A collaborative leader works closely with their employees and believes that when employees feel professionally and personally fulfilled, they are more efficient and more likely to provide quality work consistently. Because of their emphasis on teamwork and employee satisfaction, they tend to achieve higher levels of respect.

A collaborative leader is a great leadership style for companies of any size and industry, but it's especially prevalent among nonprofit organisations. These types of managers are exceptionally skilled in increasing employee morale and helping employees re-engage with their work. For example, a product manager may conduct one-on-one coffee meetings each month with everyone who has questions, concerns or ideas about using or improving the product. This allows them to address the needs of employees and help those individuals who are using the product in any capacity.

Related: Essential Qualities of a Powerful Team Player

5. Visionary

In this management style, managers lead by inspiring their employees. Managers explain their goals and the reasons behind them, persuading their employees to work towards making their vision a reality. Managers motivate their employees and give them the freedom to complete their assignments with minimal interference.

Visionary managers may perform a check-in with employees from time to time, but they believe that their shared vision keeps employees on track to produce excellent results. Also, they may offer plenty of constructive feedback during and after the process to help employees, as well as provide praise liberally.

6. Delegative or Laissez-faire

In this management style, a manager is more like a mentor than a leader. They're typically available when an employee needs guidance, but they usually allow employees to decide on their own about how to complete projects effectively. In this style of management, a manager monitors what's happening with employees, but doesn't become too involved with the day-to-day projects or tasks. The laissez-faire style provides self-motivated employees with the space and autonomy they need to become productive. However, because this management style gives responsibility to the employee, it may leave some members of the team feeling without direction or guidance.

This style is often used in companies with more decentralised leadership and where employees are much more adept than the manager in the tasks. For example, if the manager has no experience in developing new cloud management software, they can give their team the freedom to innovate, only offering support if needed.

Related: 12 Leadership Examples For the Workplace

7. Coaching

In this management style, managers see themselves as the coach and their employees as the valuable members of their team. The primary job of the manager is to guide and develop their team. They put the professional development of the team at the forefront of their priorities.

In this style, managers value long-term development above short-term failures, and they want to promote upskilling, learning and growing in the workplace. This style is useful when companies want to promote and develop employees from within. Industries with competitive job markets can benefit from this management style, as it can save the company money and time while avoiding a big recruitment process.

8. Paternalistic

In this management style, the manager acts in the best interests of their employees. They focus on the welfare of employees and always base their decisions on what's best for the staff. Typically, the company refers to staff as family and asks for trust and loyalty from employees. Managers who use this style may use unilateral decision making but may explain to the team members that the decision-makers work from a place of expertise.

9. Persuasive

A persuasive manager holds control of decision-making, but they work to help team members understand why the decisions made by management are best for the organisation. They're transparent and provide an honest explanation behind decision-making policies that can foster a trusting and inclusive environment. When a company is successful, team members usually accept top-down decisions and work hard to implement them. The persuasive management style motivates employees with logic and reason, which can be very helpful when managing a less experienced team.

For example, consider what happens when an independent consultant comes in to analyse the company's operations. Employees may be sceptical of what the consultant has to say and they may be unwilling to implement the changes they suggest. A persuasive manager can convince employees that the expert's recommendations and criticisms are valid.

10. Authoritative

An authoritative manager uses a top-down approach when leading a team. This is probably the least effective management style, as the manager makes decisions alone. They set specific and clear rules that each member of a team must follow, and they rarely ask for feedback from their staff. An authoritative style can be useful when efficiency is crucial and in crisis situations when the manager needs to make effective decisions immediately. However, innovative ideas rarely come out in this style and when used in wrong situations, it can cause a higher turnover rate among employees.

Managers in restaurants typically use an authoritative management style. Customers come in expecting quality food and orderly service. Since restaurants run on a slim profit margin, autocratic management can work well to keep employees focused on efficiency and results.

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