Skip to content Skip to Live Chat

5 Effective Types of Management Styles for Business Leaders

Feb 28, 2023

The ability to effectively manage others and motivate people to perform their best work is a top skill employers look for when hiring professionals in any industry. Managers are the people that are put in charge because of their experience or as a result of a promotion. Professionals in this role often have workers reporting to them directly and have more responsibilities. 

But leaders are different. Leaders are the people employees look up to. They promote a positive culture, and people want to follow them because they believe in their ideas and direction. 

Research shows that many workers don’t find fulfillment in their career or their relationships with their managers. Not feeling like they can approach their boss for help or motivation just adds to the negative emotions many people feel about their careers, and bring home to their personal life and relationships. Few people applying for management jobs have the talent and skills to succeed and help drive success. So how can managers focus on becoming effective and impactful leaders, and not just managers in their job title? 

Understanding management styles, proper education, and experience are just five ways that managers or hopeful future managers can be prepared to exemplify great leadership.  

What is a Management Style?

A management style describes how managers go about planning, prioritizing, communicating, and organizing work efforts to accomplish objectives within an organization. Managers use different management styles to meet their goals, delegate tasks to staff, and make decisions in the workplace. 

Management styles vary depending on the company, person, and industry. A leader’s management style is shaped by many factors, including internal and external business environments and how they view the role of work in the lives of employees.

The Different Management Styles

There are many different types of management styles, and three main categories separate the leadership types. Understanding these management styles is a first, crucial step to becoming a better manager. 

Autocratic Management

Autocratic managers make the decisions in the workplace, and communication is a top-down method from managers to employees. Roles and tasks are clearly defined in this leadership style, and workers are expected to follow directions consistently and be ready for supervision and check-ins. 

New, unskilled, or unmotivated employees can especially benefit from this direct, supervised kind of leadership. Managers struggling with chaos or time constraints may also find autocratic management and the quick decision-making it offers to be extremely efficient. 

While there are pros to this style, there are many cons. Many employees dislike this style because they don’t have direct input in decisions or solutions. Employee turnover tends to be higher with this style because workers recognize they have no say in the decision-making process or direct ways to bring change to the organization. This can lower morale quickly. 

Similarly, not everyone wants and needs extensive supervision, so the micro-management that sometimes accompanies this style of leaders causes issues. An “us vs. Them” mentality can emerge in organizations with autocratic management as workers and managers don’t collaborate, and this can create tension.  

Democratic Management

Democratic management styles support the process of employees providing input to managers before managers make final decisions. Communication in this leadership style is both top-down and bottom-up, creating a cohesive team with opportunities for feedback. 

There are many pros for a democratic management leadership style. With everyone on your team involved in collaboration and decision-making, there will be a diversity of ideas and, likely, positive outcomes. Research suggests that the more input people have in discussions and collaborations, the broader the vision will be, and can develop into great possibilities.  

Employees of democratic style managers have a say in their organization and its future, which makes them much more invested in their jobs. They also feel valued, which can motivate them to increase productivity. Under this leadership style, managers are also better able to understand their employees, their wants and needs, and their motivations. By listening to their employees as they prepare to make decisions, leaders can get the best insight into what will benefit their team and organization. 

There are some disadvantages to democratic management. When employees and managers work together to discuss options, it could take more time to come to a decision. Additionally, conflicts in viewpoints can cause tension between employees and managers. When employees make suggestions and their input isn’t taken into consideration, it may result in decreased productivity, decreased motivation, frustration, and hurt feelings.  

Laissez-faire Management

In a laissez-faire management style, managers have very little involvement with employees and their day-to-day work. The staff members under laissez-faire leadership are usually highly skilled and may not require much supervision. Laissez-faire management style typically works best for decentralized management organizations where employees are trusted to solve problems and make decisions, setting the bar for their own objectives. 

Increased innovation, vision, focus, feedback, and creativity are usually the result of laissez-faire leadership. Autonomy makes many workers more excited about their future and potential in an organization. 

Persuasive Management

Leaders who adopt a persuasive leadership style leverage their expertise and passion to inspire and motivate team members in support of their vision, plans, and solutions. Persuasive leaders effectively and confidently communicate the expectations of the company or new policies being implemented. 

Persuasive leaders foster connections by learning what team members value, then use this information to clearly explain how their vision or plan aligns with those values. Managers with a persuasive leadership style are skilled in fostering camaraderie and showing genuine sincerity. By relying on these skills, leaders can build connections that they can use to better communicate their thoughts and inspire others. In addition, someone with a persuasive leadership style will often recruit other influential individuals to support their proposed plan. 

Some of the disadvantages that may come from a persuasive management style include not allowing employees to provide feedback or input for proposed changes. As in any autocratic style, team members can feel creatively stifled and may consider communication to be one-sided. 

Collaborative Management

Leaders who use a collaborative management approach can increase the engagement and productivity of their teams. In collaborative leadership, an executive solicits input from the team before choosing the process for specific projects and helps foster a cooperative work environment. 

Collaborative management offers a sense of accomplishment for team members when tasks are completed in a group setting. This style of management creates closer teams who understand how their work intersects and influences other teams across organizations. 

A drawback to this management style is that because the work is collaborative, an employee who misses deadlines or doesn’t complete their assigned work can negatively impact the work of the entire team. This can lead to frustration and lack of trust amongst employees, which may reduce the effectiveness of their work and create tension in the workplace.  

What is your Management Style?

Now that you understand the types of management styles that exist in most organizations, it’s time to learn what leadership style will work best for you. 

It’s important to note that if you’re not willing to be honest with and realistically assess yourself, you won’t truly recognize your management style and be able to learn. Self-evaluation can be difficult, but it’s the best way to understand how you work and what you can improve to be a successful manager. 

First, consider your strengths and weaknesses. Are you good at communicating? Do you struggle with setting expectations? How is your time -management, organization, and decision-making? Make a list of the strengths and weaknesses you believe you possess. This will help you identify what type of leadership style you naturally tend to follow just based on the things you’re good at. 

Then, consider your employees. How do you relate to them and foster employee engagement? Consider your relationships and how they work. This is the point where it’s important to be honest. Do you listen to employees? Do you empower them? Does their opinion matter to you? Do you know how employees feel about their workload? How often do you supervise their day to day work? These questions are hugely important in identifying which management style you follow.  

Take a look at the list above and see if your leadership tendencies fall in one category or another. If you think they don’t, look closer. The broad categories listed above will encompass nearly every management tendency. It’s just a matter of being sincere with yourself and analyzing how you lead your employees. 

Identifying your management style is a huge step toward success as a leader. If you know what kind of boss you are, then you’re more likely to recognize how employees are feeling and their relationship to you, making you better able to help meet their needs.

Adapting your Management Style for your Employees

Next, it’s time to evaluate if your current management style is the most effective option for you and your employees. Consider your own past experiences, good or bad, and the ways in which you prefer to be managed. Write down what you have liked and disliked about leaders that you have interacted with in the past. This will help you recognize if your management style is a good fit for others like you, and what new elements you could incorporate to improve it. 

Industry Differences

Management styles vary across industries. For example, the auto industry is an older, more seasoned industry. There are often older workers and employees in this industry. Manufacturing jobs tend to be made up of an older workforce, and in the auto industry, autocratic and democratic management styles might be more common due to the history and tradition within that industry. 

Meanwhile, in younger industries like digital marketing a laissez-faire management style is more the norm. Understanding that different industries will have unique expectations for management styles will help you determine the best route for you to take with employees. Remember that a leadership style which worked in one office and industry won’t necessarily work well in another. 

If your self-evaluation leads you to believe that your management style isn’t working, change it! Experiment with new ways of connecting with employees. Consider which management style you’d like to embody, then work to implement that new style in small ways until they become habits. 

Time will help you adjust to a new management style, but there are other things you can do. Going back to school is a great way to learn about proper management, and ensure you have the skills to have good management, and leadership abilities. WGU offers CBE-based learning, including for its masters in leadership and management courses, so that students can thrive under a skills-based education.  

Business programs at WGU will not only help you learn about your management style but will give you specific tools to work on your leadership abilities. If you’re able to be a good manager who is great at their specific job tasks, and a leader who is good at working with employees and helping them want to follow you, your career will take off.  

Recommended Articles

Take a look at other articles from WGU. Our articles feature information on a wide variety of subjects, written with the help of subject matter experts and researchers who are well-versed in their industries. This allows us to provide articles with interesting, relevant, and accurate information.