Authoritative managers, for example, risk stifling their employees’ growth, whereas laissez-faire managers may not see their employees are struggling with tasks until it causes problems. But, how do you know which management style you use? And, how can you improve?
We’ve put together a quiz below which will help you to decipher your management style. Simply, take our quick test and then find your management type in the article below. You can easily see what your strengths and weaknesses are and how you can future-proof your management style.
- Democratic manager
- Authoritative/autocratic manager
- Consultative manager
- Coaching manager
- Laissez-faire manager
- Transactional manager
- What is the best management type?
A democratic leadership style is a hybrid of hierarchical and lateral leadership styles. Here, there is a traditional manager leading the team, however, a large part of their role will be encouraging team members to actively participate in decision-making. They will do this by delegating tasks, asking for input in processes, and opening forums for discussion.
The benefits of democratic leadership are:
- Various ways of thinking are included in projects – Especially in diverse teams, democratic management styles prioritise different ways of thinking and opinions to play a role in decisions.
- Teams fully support decisions – Unlike more hierarchical management styles, democratic leadership teams are more likely to support and have faith in the decisions that are made. This will make for better company culture.
- High employee engagement – As different team members will be involved in all projects, the engagement of your team will see great benefits in terms of employees being more engaged and active.
The downfalls of democratic leadership are:
- Employees may feel downtrodden – One serious risk of the democratic leadership style is that if employees are outvoted on a matter, it may lead to them feeling disgruntled or underappreciated.
- Time-consuming – Dependent on the number of people involved in the decision-making process, informing and pitching decisions to everyone in the group can take some time. If wider discussions are needed between different stakeholders, this further adds to the time needed.
- Increases the risk of conflict – If employees aren’t in agreement with each other, this can open the door to conflict and other working relationship problems. A great Relations Manager can help to avoid this.
How can you improve as a democratic manager?
Including employees in the decision-making process is a great way to give your team power in the decisions your company makes.
However, if you choose to go against the way individuals vote or decide not to implement their ideas, be sure to tell them why and reinforce that their opinions are valued. This way, you reduce the risk of hurt feelings or toxicity breeding in the workplace.
Authoritative and autocratic management is a typical hierarchical leadership style. It sees leaders take a top-down approach, with little room for employees to voice their opinions, influence processes, or give feedback.
While many have argued this style of leadership is outdated, it still has its place in some businesses.
The benefits of authoritative management are:
- Fast decision time – As management makes most decisions in an authoritative leadership situation, decisions can be made quickly without much discussion.
- Low pressure for employees – As management takes the brunt of any strong decisions or process forming, there isn’t too much pressure placed on any entry-level or mid-level team members.
- Clarity of hierarchy – Due to its strictly top-down approach, the hierarchy and order of authority is clear-cut in an autocratic leadership style.
The downfalls of authoritative management are:
- You’re only as strong as your leader – As the manager in this type of business leads the creation of processes and makes the decisions, your team will only have as much expertise as the manager does.
- No room for collaboration or innovation – Authoritative management doesn’t leave much room for those lower down the hierarchy to voice their improvements or ideas, meaning creativity can be stifled.
- Little room for growth – As teams led in this way tend to have a strict hierarchical structure, growing into new roles can be limited to a ‘one-in-one-out’ situation. This can lead to high employee turnover, if not managed correctly.
How can you improve as an authoritative manager?
One way that you can start to improve is by creating growth plans with your team. Holding monthly one to ones and speaking to your team members about areas they’d like to develop in will ensure they aren’t stagnating and looking for growth opportunities outside your business.
This also helps to introduce a great feedback culture within your team.
A consultative leadership style is much more on the lateral side. This management style sees a lot more focus placed on the team and their skills and fosters more independence than authoritative management does. The team are actively encouraged to make decisions together and each plays a role in forming processes.
The benefits of consultative management are:
- Lots of opportunities for cross-learning – As each team member will be encouraged to use their strengths and expertise, this fosters a cross-learning environment.
- Room for creativity – In this type of environment, creativity is at the forefront of the team’s working style. There is always room for innovation and change to improve ways of working.
- Growth is encouraged – As managers aim to have team members work towards their own solutions, growth is actively encouraged with this leadership style.
The downfalls of consultative management are:
- Less efficiency – As team members must work to form their own solutions, things can naturally take longer to get done. This is especially true if strengths are lacking in some areas.
- Less outspoken members can feel overlooked – Most teams are formed of a mix of personality types, meaning some will naturally be more reserved than others. In a consultative management-led environment, this can lead to quieter team members not sharing their thoughts or feeling as though they’re not being heard.
- Unfair distribution – As with the above point, some more outspoken team members may feel as though they are carrying the brunt of the work if quieter members aren’t speaking up.
How can you improve as a consultative manager?
As a consultative manager, it is important that you ensure each team member is getting equal opportunities to share their ideas.
If you’re noticing one individual isn’t speaking up as much as the others, don’t hesitate to ask them for their opinion. If it is an ongoing issue, putting in some one-to-one time with them may give them the confidence to start speaking up, or help you to decipher what is holding them back.
Coaching management styles combine the elements of both hierarchical and lateral leadership. In this leadership style, leaders work to mentor and guide their team to success, much like a work coach They will work with their reports to bring out their elements and shape them towards better performance, processes, and decisions.
The benefits of coaching management are:
- Open forum for communication – As managers work in a mentor-type role here, communication flows in both directions. Employees will feel more comfortable sharing their personal goals and areas of weakness to help strengthen their skills.
- Learning is encouraged – A huge benefit of this leadership style is employees rarely feel stagnant. They will regularly be encouraged to grow and learn new skills, meaning they are constantly professionally evolving.
- Increased loyalty – Coaching managers are heavily invested in their team’s development, which will naturally be recognised by employees. This leads to increased loyalty in the team, which can have a positive impact on turnover.
The downfalls of coaching management are:
- Huge time commitment – Such an individualised approach to team members requires a huge amount of time commitment from managers. This means other tasks or priorities may get pushed back.
- Requires high levels of skill – Not everyone is a natural coach. Without the right skill set or personality type, coaching can easily be done wrong. This can lead to conflict or wasted resources in areas they aren’t needed.
- Invitation for preference – Naturally, some personalities may have better chemistry than others. In some cases, this may result in coaching managers playing ‘favourites’ or spending more time assisting some team members than others. This can impact the work environment greatly.
How can you improve as a coaching manager?
However, if a project has strict deadlines don’t be afraid to delegate tasks to team members who you know can handle it and approach the learning opportunities later, when time permits. It is also a good idea to actively keep track of how you are helping individual team members. This way you can track each individual’s progress, as well as ensure you aren’t unconsciously dedicating more time to one team member over the other.
This is a highly lateral management style. Here, leaders place a huge emphasis on trust in their leadership approach. They will very rarely be involved in the day-to-day workings of their team, and will only step in when truly necessary.
Employees will be expected to make their own decisions, call on their own problem-solving skills to find solutions, and manage their own time. They will often provide feedback at the very end of a project, rather than during the process.
The benefits of laissez-faire management are:
- High level of accountability – Under this leadership type, each employee is accountable for their own actions and work. This often motivates employees and allows them to take pride in their output.
- Huge growth potential – As employees are in charge of their own time and actions, this pushes them to grow stronger and more confident as individuals. They are free to ‘learn by doing’ and analyse their decisions afterwards.
- Creativity flourishes – Without micromanagement or strict processes, there is plenty of room for creativity under a laissez-faire leadership style. This means employees are free to try new things and stay hot on industry trends.
The downfalls of laissez-faire management are:
- Things can slip through the cracks – Without strong processes in place, this type of leadership style can leave teams unsure about who is leading some projects. In turn, deadlines, or whole projects, can slip through the cracks.
- Lack of guidance – Due to management not playing a strong role in the day-to-day projects, some team members may feel as though they do not receive adequate support or mentorship.
- Difficult onboarding process – As management aren’t involved in the day-to-day work, they may find it difficult to onboard new members of the team. This activity may then be passed on to other team members, who feel underqualified for this task.
How can you improve as a laissez-faire manager?
Letting your team do things their own way is great for their growth, but don’t forget to check in on them from time to time. This can be by having a weekly huddle to check on project progress or by introducing weekly one to ones to discuss an employee’s workload, happiness, and growth.
Doing this will ensure that problems or areas of irritation are diagnosed and solved quickly before they snowball into something bigger!
This management style is another that is considered quite hierarchical and outdated, however, is still in place in some industries. Transactional management is a performance-based leadership style that focuses on punishment and reward.
Managers set goals or targets and will reward or punish team members based on how they perform in line with these targets, treating their output as an exchange.
The benefits of transactional management are:
- Employees always know what is expected of them – Since targets are set, employees always know what they are working towards and what kind of performance their lead wants to see.
- High drive to succeed – As the stakes are high with a business working under transactional management, so is the drive to succeed. Employees will dedicate their time to achieving their goals in order to be rewarded.
- A clear chain of command – With transactional management, the hierarchy is quite clear and employees will know who to turn to if they have a problem or there is a bottleneck impacting their performance.
The downfalls of transactional management are:
- High risk of overworking – When targets are set and rewards are based on these targets, employees risk overworking in order to hit these targets. This can have a huge impact on their mental health and severely impact performance in the long run.
- Severed team relationships – If targets are set that involves the whole team’s participation, this risks causing conflict and severing team relationships. This can happen if performance ability differs across the team.
- Risk of bias – Depending on the employee’s relationship with their managers, transactional management can run the risk of bias impacting either targets or the decision to reward employees.
How can you improve as a transactional manager?
Setting targets and rewarding employees is a great way to boost productivity. However, be sure to have these bonuses as an extra incentive. Paying a great salary and offering a good set of employee benefits will ensure that employees don’t feel the need to overwork or push themselves to exhaustion to gain their rewards.
So, what is the best management style?
As with all things relating to your business, the management style that works best will depend on your specific company. Different management styles work best for different businesses.
For example, in a sales-based business, the targets and rewards seen in transactional management environments can work as a great motivator for productivity and performance. However, in a tech company, this kind of management can cause unnecessary pressure and lead to mistakes.
The solution: a tailored management approach
A great management tip is to try and adopt a hybrid approach, including some of the best bits from each management type listed here. This could be done in a few ways.
One tip could be actively coaching and helping junior team members to improve while taking a step back and allowing senior team members to work independently. This combines the coaching and laissez-faire management styles in a way that works for the rest of your team.
A step further may be to tailor your management style to each team member. In this case, getting to know your team is essential. Some individuals may prefer the clear-cut instruction and goals that an autocratic manager provides. Others may prefer to work towards a goal uninterrupted and have feedback provided once they’re finished, making a laissez-faire style perfect for them.
Want to know how to take the conversation with your employees even further? Try implementing some of these feedback styles and you’re sure to see a difference in how your team works together.