There are very many ways of classifying and describing common management styles, although of course everyone’s style is unique, in as much as it is coloured by their personality.
The Democratic Manager or Participative Manager will allow their staff quite a wide degree of flexibility by delegating to them and allowing them to achieve results on their own using their own methods. Often they do not interfere as long as the desired results are achieved. Employees may react differently to this style – some will enjoy the challenge and make strenuous efforts, other may rest on their laurels a little. Democratic managers usually liaise with their staff when agreeing targets for them, and foster a team commitment by allowing the team to influence decisions. This style can be useful for solving complex problems that need specialist skills.
The Autocratic Manager, or Directive or Coercive Manager will make decisions independently and then issue orders to staff. This authoritarian style is quite controlling and managers usually have a tight control on staff tasks and deadlines. This can be a difficult style for employees to work with, and can lead to low morale, high staff turnover and an “Us and Them “mind-set. This style can be useful for problem solving or when managing large numbers of low skilled workers. Difficult and demotivating for skilled staff, and does not allow for much employee development.
The Persuasive Manager is a cross between the democrat and the autocrat, they consult with staff before making decisions, but do make the decision themselves. This style usually motivates staff, allows them to feel a valued part of the team.
The Paternalistic Manager is more of a “people person“ – firm but fair, and likes to discuss reasons for decisions with staff and take into account their personal circumstances. Staff working in this kind of regime usually are well motivated, feel a part of the team, and know that they are not just seen as a number. They do tend to rely heavily on the manager for instruction, and not act on their own initiative.
The Bureaucratic Manager will manage “by the book”. They do not deviate from the procedure laid down, and do not allow anything out of the ordinary to happen. This may have its place in certain types of jobs, but does not stimulate inspired, motivated performances from staff.
The Laissez Faire Manager tends to leave everyone to get on with their own job with little or no interference or control. They are usually available for mentoring, coaching and help as requested. For the right employees this style can be liberating, motivating and refreshing. For others who are perhaps less confident or experienced it can be terrifying! Capable employees will thrive, others may not fare so well, so it is important for this manager to be aware of staffs’ capabilities and response to this management style, and to step in where required, even if not asked. Handled properly, the more cautious employees may become high flyers, but if not supported they can make serious errors and lose confidence.
The Chaotic Manager allows staff to have total control over the decision making process. Some contemporary companies such as Google have adopted this style, which makes for a very flat management structure. It is thought that this style encourages innovation and allows employees to fulfil their potential, although it is still relatively new.
Which is the most effective style?
The key to using management style to advantage, and finding the most effective style for you at any one time, is to have a range of styles you can comfortably shift between and use them as appropriate. Take into account the staff you are managing, their experience, needs and capabilities, and the degree of difficulty and the urgency of the tasks to be achieved.