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Exploring the different types of management styles

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This article has been vetted by University of Phoenix's editorial advisory committee. 
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Kathryn Uhles, Dean, College of Business and IT

This article has been reviewed by Kathryn Uhles, MIS, MSP, Dean, College of Business and IT

This article was updated on 04/18/2024.

Whether you’re interested in becoming an entrepreneur or simply pursuing a business degree, you’ll likely use one or more of several management styles during your career. Understanding management tactics can help you in many capacities, from learning how to lead and manage people more effectively as a team to fostering a more positive experience on group projects for school and work.

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

Here, we explore different leadership styles that can be implemented in management positions.

Become a leader in the workplace. Explore the Bachelor of Science in Management degree at University of Phoenix.

What is a management style? 

Management styles describe the method and approach a manager uses to motivate, direct and oversee their team. It encompasses decision-making; planning and organization; and interaction with employees. Different management styles have unique effects on team dynamics, productivity and culture. For managers, adopting the style that best fits their team and organizational goals is crucial.

8 types of leadership styles in management 

There are a wide variety of leadership styles, and the leadership characteristics that a manager chooses to employ are important. Applying the wrong one to the wrong team can lead to miscommunication at best and organizational disaster at worst. Consider how the following eight management types fit both your personality and that of the team you lead.

1. Affiliative management style 

Affiliative management focuses on creating and maintaining positive relationships within the team. Consider it a "people first" approach. Affiliative management encourages team-building exercises and aims to make everyone feel comfortable and appreciated. The overall goal is to promote cooperation and harmony.

The advantages of an affiliative management style include:

  • 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, 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.

2. Autocratic management style 

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 might frequently check on the team's progress to ensure everything is on schedule.

The advantages of autocratic management include:

  • Improved productivity: Autocratic leaders outline clear expectations for employees when delegating tasks. They hold team members accountable for timely goal completion. As a result, productivity may increase.
  • 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, potentially 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 overly intense attention on employees’ actions and responsibilities, 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 a clear vision and a firm commitment to deadlines as well as a team that thrives under directive management.

3. Coaching management style 

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

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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.
  • Time requirement: Coaching managers must spend considerable time with each employee to understand them and how best to guide them.
  • Additional training may be necessary: Coaching managers often 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. 

4. Commanding management style 

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.
  • Efficient operations: This type of management sometimes leads to more efficient operations, as employees can work without interference.

The disadvantages of commanding management include:

  • Higher employee stress: Employees who work under a commanding manager may often feel anxious because of the pressure to perform, especially when the manager may be a perfectionist or taskmaster with unreasonable expectations.
  • Lack of creativity: Employees may hesitate to share ideas or challenge the status quo under a commanding manager, which can hinder 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.

5. Democratic management style 

Democratic managers encourage team members to take the initiative, question the status quo, make suggestions 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.
  • High employee motivation: Employees may feel more motivated and energized 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. This type of management might be helpful when the company has a diverse workforce or no clear leader.

6. Laissez-faire management style 

Laissez-faire leadership describes a hands-off style where the boss allows employees to make their own decisions and often leads by example rather than by providing direct instructions.

The advantages of laissez-faire management include:

  • Employee empowerment: 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.
  • Innovation: Because employees have the freedom to make their own decisions, they may feel encouraged to think outside the box and develop creative solutions.

The disadvantages of laissez-faire management include:

  • Lack of direction among employees: Since there is no clear direction from the manager, employees may feel lost and have difficulty prioritizing.
  • Potential indecision issues: 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 a company has a lot of experienced employees or is in a stable state.

7. Pace-setting management style 

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:

  • Potential employee burnout: Employees who are constantly pressured to meet high standards often burn out.
  • Decreased employee 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 leadership style might be used when the company is expanding or has a lot of new employees.

8. Visionary management style 

Visionary managers encourage employees to be proactive and take the 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:

  • Employee empowerment: Employees who can be proactive and make decisions often feel more valued.
  • A sense of employee ownership: By taking on responsibility for decisions, employees feel more invested in the company and are less likely to leave.
  • Efficient decision-making: 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:

  • Potential for poor employee choices: When employees are empowered, they may make more mistakes due to a lack of experience.
  • Potential 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 one of many essential tips for successfully starting your own business, but entrepreneurs aren’t the only people who benefit. Your employees may become leaders down the road, and they’ll take their management style cues from you. Finding the best management style for you will come with trial and error, and it may end up shifting down the line as your team composition changes.

One of the best things about the different types of management styles is flexibility. You can 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.

Here, we speak with Joseph Aranyosi, associate dean of the College of Business and Information Technology at University of Phoenix, about what he feels makes an effective manager.

“In my opinion, the most effective managers are those who can adapt to changing employee, workplace and project needs,” Aranyosi says. “It's a lot like a TV series, where you start off with a great original premise, but you just need to tweak the setting or some of the characters in season 2 to get everything just right. The best managers make similar adjustments to transform their team until it's working in sync. The managers who are unable to adapt are the ‘one-hit wonders’ as opposed to the ‘multiplatinum artists.’”

If you’re looking to expand your business skill set and have been considering a business program, consider the following at UOPX:

  • General Management Certificate: In this program you’ll learn skills such as organizational behavior, training and development, business strategies, product marketing and other foundational management skills.
  • Certificate in Leadership and Management: This program includes content related to organizational effectiveness, motivational skills, decision-making tactics, organizational structure and more.
  • Project Management Certificate (Undergraduate): This program provides courses in project planning, performance, implementation, coordination and more.
  • Human Resource Management Certificate: This program provides an overview of employee relations, human resource strategy, labor law, labor relations and more.
  • Associate of Arts with a concentration in Business Fundamentals: From management to accounting, skills learned in this program are essential for a foundation in business.
  • Bachelor of Science in Business: In this program, you’ll learn essential skills such as interpersonal communication, operations management, business structures, risk management, accounting and more.
  • Bachelor of Science in Management Degree: Learn what it takes to improve and optimize organizational effectiveness and productivity in a dynamic and evolving workplace. Develop and apply career-relevant skills in a practical way with coursework in leadership, operations and logistics, project management and strategic management — all of which will help you align resources, improve communication and make key decisions in various industries. 
  • Master of Management: This program promotes the development of management competencies through the practical application of theory, business and management diagnostics, and the formulation of creative management and consulting solutions.
  • Master of Business Administration: Hone skills that help make key decisions for an organization. Take courses in leading change, strategic planning and implementation, data analysis, business analytics and more.
Photo of blog author Michael Feder smiling.


Michael Feder is a content marketing specialist at University of Phoenix, where he researches and writes on a variety of topics, ranging from healthcare to IT. He is a graduate of the Johns Hopkins University Writing Seminars program and a New Jersey native!

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