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8 different management styles and types - which is best for you?

Smiling business manager in an office setting
Smiling business manager in an office setting

At a glance

  • Understanding different management styles is essential for both teamwork and management.
  • Eight different management styles run the gamut from autocratic to democratic.
  • University of Phoenix offers a Business Management degree that prepares students to be effective leaders.

Whether you’re interested in becoming an entrepreneur or simply pursuing a business degree, there are several types of management styles to learn about. Understanding various management styles, after all, can help you in many capacities, from learning how to lead and manage people more effectively as a team to a more positive experience on group projects for school and work.

Becoming familiar with management styles can also complement the knowledge gained from such business degree programs as:

So what are the management styles? Read on to find out!

Affiliative management

Affiliative management is a style that focuses on creating and maintaining positive relationships within the team. It’s considered a "people first" approach to management. It encourages team-building exercises and aims to make everyone feel comfortable and appreciated. The overall goal of this style is to promote cooperation and harmony.

The advantages of an affiliative management style are:

  • Improved trust: Managers who use this style try to foster trust among their team members. When people feel comfortable with each other, morale and loyalty increase.
  • Increased employee satisfaction: Employees who feel appreciated and a part of a team may be more productive and satisfied.
  • Effective issue resolution: By focusing on building positive relationships, this approach is conducive to efficient and effective conflict resolution.

The disadvantages of affiliative management are:

  • Complacency: When employees receive consistently positive feedback from managers who take an affiliative management approach, they may become less motivated to challenge themselves to grow.
  • A lack of focus: Some employees require direct and specific leadership and can become stressed by the hands-off management style of this approach.
  • Ineffective crisis management: While affiliative managers are good with people, they may falter in the face of crises requiring immediate attention.

Every organization may want to consider having an affiliative leader to enhance the workplace.

Autocratic management

Autocratic leadership is the opposite of affiliative management. This style hinges upon control and power, with decision-making resting entirely in the hands of one person: the manager.

Generally, autocratic managers take charge of day-to-day operations and provide each team member with precise instructions. These bosses also might frequently check on the team's progress to ensure everything is on schedule.

The advantages of autocratic management are:

  • Improved productivity: Autocratic leaders outline exactly what is expected of employees when delegating tasks. They hold team members accountable for meeting these goals on time. As a result, productivity may increase under this style.
  • Effective crisis management: In times of crisis or emergency, autocratic managers are quick to take charge and make crucial decisions.
  • Direct communication: Autocratic managers communicate directly with their employees, providing clear instructions. This eliminates any confusion and ensures everyone is on the same page.

The disadvantages of autocratic management include:

  • Lack of employee input: Employees cannot share their thoughts or ideas, leading to frustration.
  • Ineffective team building: Autocratic management often lacks team building, as employees are less likely to work together closely.
  • Micromanagement: This management style may lead to micromanagement, which can be highly frustrating for employees.

While this style may not be suitable for all workplaces, it can be successful for managers who have the characteristics necessary to make it work. This type of boss should have a clear vision and a firm commitment to deadlines.

Coaching management

A coaching management-style leader builds a strong connection with employees and helps them improve their professional skills and abilities through one-on-one guidance.

Under this management style, team members are encouraged to experiment with new ideas while meeting company targets.

The advantages of coaching management include:

  • Improved employee productivity: Coaching managers can help employees improve their professional skills, which can lead to increased productivity.
  • Better employee retention: When employees feel that they are being coached and developed professionally, they are more likely to stay with the company.
  • Increased employee morale: Employees who receive guidance and support from their managers often have higher morale.

The disadvantages of coaching management include:

  • Ineffective when employees are unreceptive to guidance: Coaching management requires buy-in from both the leader and the employee to be effective.
  • Requires a significant amount of time: Coaching managers must spend considerable time with each employee to be effective.
  • May require additional training: Coaching managers need to be trained in giving feedback and developing employees' skills.

The coaching management style might be ideal for employees who want to improve their professional skills and managers who can commit to helping them get there. 

Commanding management

This type of boss is often a strong leader who makes quick decisions and expects team members to follow orders. It is a common method for influencing employee behavior.

The advantages of commanding management include:

  • Decisive leadership: A commanding manager makes quick decisions, which can be helpful in difficult situations.
  • Clear direction: Employees know precisely what is expected of them under a commanding management style.
  • Efficient operations: This type of management sometimes leads to more efficient operations, as employees can work without interference.

The disadvantages of commanding management include:

  • Stressful for employees: Employees who work under a commanding manager often feel stressed and anxious.
  • Lack of creativity: Employees may hesitate to share ideas or challenge the status quo under a commanding manager, which stymies personal and company growth.
  • Resistance from employees: Employees may push back on following orders from a commanding manager, leading to tension and conflict.

The commanding management style might be best suited for employees looking for decisive leadership and clear direction. 

Democratic management

Democratic managers encourage team members to take the initiative, question the status quo, make suggestions for improvement, and collaborate. It’s a participative or shared leadership style.

The advantages of democratic management include:

  • Efficient decision-making: Democratic managers encourage team members to participate in decision-making, which can help create a sense of investment among employees.
  • Motivated employees: Employees may feel more motivated and energized under a democratic management style because they are encouraged to take the initiative.
  • Increased creativity: Democratic managers allow their employees to come up with ideas, which often leads to increased creativity.

The disadvantages of democratic management include:

  • Length of time to make decisions: If team members cannot reach a consensus, decisions may take longer to make.
  • Conflict among employees: Because all employees are encouraged to share their ideas and opinions, disagreements are likely.
  • Inefficient operations: Democratic managers may experience delays in decision-making, which can result in lags in operations.

The democratic management style is best suited for shared leadership that encourages creative thinking and collaboration among employees. This type of management might be helpful when the company has a diverse workforce or no clear leader.

Laissez-faire management

In laissez-faire, or hands-off, management, the boss allows employees to make their own decisions and leads by example rather than by providing direct instructions.

The advantages of laissez-faire management include:

  • Employees feel empowered: Employees who have freedom to make their own decisions often feel more motivated.
  • Less micromanaging: Laissez-faire managers create a more relaxed and productive work environment by giving employees more latitude to work at their own pace.
  • Encourages innovation: Because employees have freedom to make their own decisions, it often encourages them to think outside the box and develop creative solutions.

The disadvantages of laissez-faire management include:

  • Employees may lack direction: Since there is no clear direction from the manager, employees may feel lost and have difficulty focusing on completing tasks.
  • Indecision can arise from too many opinions: Employees are encouraged to share their ideas, which can cause conflict among team members and delay a consensus.
  • Lack of productivity: Without clear leadership, employees may not be as productive as possible.

The laissez-faire management style is best suited to those looking for a more relaxed work environment where employees are expected to take the initiative. This type of management could be used when the company has a lot of experienced employees or is in a stable state.

Pace-setting management

Pace-setting managers are usually more direct when communicating with employees and have little tolerance for those who fail to pull their weight in the workplace.

The advantages of pace-setting management include:

  • High productivity: Employees might be productive because they feel the pressure to meet high standards.
  • Clear expectations: Pace-setting managers set clear expectations for their employees, which helps them stay on track and avoid confusion.
  • Discipline: Pace-setting managers might use negative consequences to ensure their employees complete tasks on time and well.

The disadvantages of pace-setting management include:

  • May lead to employee burnout: Employees who are constantly pressured to meet high standards often burn out.
  • Employees may lack motivation: Pace-setting managers may find it challenging to motivate employees in the long run, especially in a company with a diverse workforce.
  • Employee resistance: Employees who dislike pressure and high standards might try to avoid challenging assignments or use excuses to get out of work. This can lead to an inefficient workplace culture.

Pace-setting management might be ideal for more traditional work environments at companies that are looking to increase productivity. This type of management might be used when the company is expanding or has a lot of new employees.

Entrepreneurship is the ultimate management role. Read our five tips for successfully starting your own business!

Visionary management

Visionary managers encourage employees to be proactive and take initiative, and they try to inspire a generally positive attitude in the workplace. They believe in empowering their employees and giving them enough information to make informed decisions while letting go of control when necessary.

The advantages of visionary management include:

  • Employees feel empowered: Employees who can be proactive and make decisions often feel more valued.
  • Employees have a sense of ownership: By taking on responsibility for decisions, employees feel more invested in the company and are less likely to leave.
  • Decisions are made efficiently: With enough information, employees may make decisions without waiting for approval. This can help companies save time and improve efficiency.

The disadvantages of visionary management include:

  • May lead to employees making poor choices: When employees are empowered, they may make mistakes with their actions due to a lack of experience.
  • May cause employee resentment: Employees who are not allowed to contribute may resent their managers. This can lead to decreased productivity and an unhealthy work environment.

Visionary management might be found at companies looking to develop a proactive and positive work culture. This type of management could be used when the company is a startup or has recently undergone changes.

Finding the best management style for you

Mastering your management skills is among the many essential tips for successfully starting your own business. Finding the best management style for you will come with trial and error.

You can also combine approaches to create a management style that works best for you and your team. Management styles are not one size fits all, so it’s important to find the one that works best for you and your company — and maybe customize it to your objectives.