14 Different Types of Management Styles Explained

Leadership skills are crafted through practice and hard work. However, there are a variety of ways to be a good leader and that might incorporate different methods at different times. Here are 14 types of management styles described so you can determine where you stand and how you can improve.

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1. Autocratic

An autocratic manager basically tells employees what to do. If they fail to do the task as assigned, they face consequences. Motivation comes in the form of fear of discipline and management isn’t interested in employee feedback.

Pros: While an autocratic style sounds terrible, there are a few benefits. Employees have a specific role and clear expectations. However, this top-down management style is best for a short amount of time and should be used only when absolutely necessary.

Cons: Employees depend 100% on management to do their jobs, quashing the possibility of creative or innovative ideas coming from workers. This lack of feedback can lead to poor ideas and execution.

2. Consultative

Consultative managers use employee feedback to make decisions, leading to a better management-employee relationship. These managers may have an open-door policy so employees can drop in an discuss what’s working, what isn’t, and to offer up new ideas or strategies.

Pros: Consultative managers generally have better office relationships meaning less turnover and more employee loyalty.

Cons: This is still a top-down system where management has the sole decision-making power. It’s less efficient than other styles and can slow down the decision-making process and delay putting important changes in place. Experts say it’s important to use this style sparingly so you don’t hurt the progress of your business.

3. Persuasive

In this model, management still has control over decisions. However, they attempt to help employees see why those decisions work best for the company. Persuasive management is most effective when used in situations where managers know more about the subject matter than the team they are leading. Persuasive manager need to be knowledgeable and passionate.

Pros: A persuasive manager has the ability to make quick decisions and increase productivity. There’s no absolute hierarchy or the decision-making process. Employees greatly prefer this type of leadership to an autocratic one.

Cons: As the expert, you’re expected to make the right decisions and implement plans that work. If the end result is negative, the blame is on you.

4. Democratic

Employees are engaged in decision-making with a democratic manager and decisions are agreed upon by the majority. The communications go from the manager down to employees and from employees up to the managers.

Pros: Effective when complex decisions need to be made with a variety of outcomes.

Cons: Democracy slows down decision-making and can be inefficient.

5. Laissez-faire

This style is the complete opposite of autocracy. A laissez-faire manager is laid-back with a lot of confidence in their staff. Laissez-faire managers are more like a mentor than a leader. Employees make decisions and may look for their manager’s input when needed.

Pros: Good for employees in the creative space

Cons: Employees may not have much direction.

6. Management by walking around

Management by walking around (MBWA) is exactly what is sounds like. Managers randomly wander around to check with employees, equipment, or on the status of ongoing work.

Pros: This style lets managers model behaviors they want from employees in the office. They remain engaged with the team.

Cons: When employees do not support management, MBWA can cause big problems.

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7. Inspirational

The most effective leadership approach, according to management expert Claudio Feser, is inspirational leadership. In his book, When Execution Isn’t Enough: Decoding Inspirational Leadership, Feser argues that inspirational leadership is the best way to help organizations make significant (and efficient) change and improvement.

Pros: The inspirational type of management style works well for those with great people skills, a big heart, and an honest desire to help employees develop.

Cons: The lack of focus on the detail can lead to problems with inexperienced or new employees.

8. Results-based

Results-based management (RBM) is defined as directing all action and resources towards achieving clearly defined and demonstrable results. The #1 goal of this type of management is efficiency.

Pros: Managers aren’t necessarily concerned with how things get done, as long as they get done correctly and in the fastest way possible.

Cons: The only thing that matters are results so systems and processes in place might be flawed. Short-term goals may be reached but long-term goals may suffer.

9. Collaborative

The collaborative approach is similar to the democratic style. However, with a collaborative style, you’re not just asking your employees to participate in a yes-or-no vote—you’re actively seeking feedback.

Pros: Real and thoughtful conversations about business improvement empowers employees and might spark innovative solutions.

Cons: Collaborative leaders must create strict job definitions and responsibilities for each team member to follow. Without these definitions in place, some team members may try to force ideas onto others, even if it isn’t the best approach. Additionally, issues might arise because of different working styles on the team.

10. Strategic

Strategic managers focus on the big picture, not the details. Strategic managers are generally comfortable allowing others to oversee everyday responsibilities while you work on business building initiatives.

Pros: Encourages objective thinking, supports team unity, and provides clarity so employees know where they stand and where they are headed.

Cons: While some strategic leaders might be flexible, their framework might not be. If something needs to be changed or altered, it could impact the work of an entire department.

11. Example-setting management

This type of manager leads by consistently setting good examples of the kind of work expected at the business. They set the bar. Read 7 Simple Ways to Lead by Example for more information.

Pros: It’s effective and makes people want to follow you.

Cons: Example-setting leaders need to take responsibility for the good and the bad. If they don’t, confidence can crumble and effect the company.

12. Affiliative management

The affiliative manager make themselves a part of the team. They lead from the front without constantly reminding employees that they’re the one in charge. They clearly describe what needs to get done and put their main focus on positive feedback. They are committed to producing results that improve the quality of life in the office.

Pros: Employees see you as a respected ally and understand that you’re trying to help them succeed.

Cons: Affiliative managers may have problems resolving complex issues as they offer only positive feedback and avoid conflict.

13. Charismatic

Charismatic style is built around the personality and charm of the manager. These managers are focused on developing personal relationships and team building.

Pros: Employees are cooperative because they respect the fact that you’re interested in getting to know them as individuals.

Cons: If the style and personality of the manager is abrasive at all, it won’t work.

14. Visionary

Visionary leaders are driven by what a business can become without getting caught up in the details. They are big picture people. Typically, a visionary leader is brought in when a business is going through a transition or difficult times.

Pros: Visionary leaders bring cohesiveness and inspire everyone to be on the same page.

Cons: Visionaries tend to get bored easily and have trouble staying focused and following through.

Choosing Your Style

The best business owners often use more than two or three of these management styles at any one time. A successful manager can match his style to the type of business he’s in and the personality and skill level of the employees he leads. There is no limit to how many styles you can use, as long as you do it right.

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