Leadership skills, like most abilities in life, must be earned through practice and hard work. However, there are many different ways to be a good leader. In fact, great leaders often incorporate different types of management styles at different times.
In this post, the experts at Sling will share 10 types of management styles for effective leadership so that you can take your management skills—and your business—to the next level.
The Best Types Of Management Styles
The simple, and perhaps somewhat disappointing, answer is that there is no method of leadership that is always superior to all other types of management styles.
The best types of management styles are flexible, adaptive, and appropriate for the given circumstances. This is true because different situations call for different kinds of leadership.
When deciding how to lead, you’ll need to take a number of things into consideration. Here are a few of the factors that will influence which management style you’ll need to employ:
- The type of business you manage.
- The volume of work that needs to be completed in the near future.
- Your personality and innate management qualities.
- The personalities and attitudes of the staff you’re currently managing.
Once you’ve taken all of these factors into account, you’re ready for action!
Why Is Learning Your Management Style Essential For Success?
Learning your primary management style — or knowing which styles work in which situations — has a significant impact on the way you and your team operate.
Here are four ways that identifying your management style can set you on the road to success.
1) You Won’t Have To Rely On Fads
Management fads come and go, and very few are effective long term. But when you find a management style that works for you, you create a foundation to which you can return when the going gets tough.
2) You’ll Know How To Adapt
As you’ll see in the next section, certain situations — emergencies, critical deadlines, organizational strategy — require a more direct management policy. When you settle on your day-to-day management style, you’ll know better how to adapt to issues that fall outside the “norm.”
3) You’ll Know How To Best Engage Your Employees
If your employees are engaged in their work, they’ll perform better in the short term and be less likely to leave your business in the long term. The right management style for the job promotes this type of employee engagement and makes your team members feel more comfortable approaching you with questions, suggestions, and ideas.
4) You’ll Know Your Weaknesses And How To Improve
Each management style comes with its own set of skills. When you learn which management style fits your personality, your team, and your business, you can focus on exercising your strengths and improving your weaknesses.
4 Broad Categories Of Management Styles
Before we enumerate the various management styles for effective leadership, it’s helpful to get familiar with the four broad categories into which they each fall.
These categories go by many different names, but we’ve chosen the most descriptive to help you identify the one that’s right for you.
Armed with this information, you can find the management style that best fits your personality and the way you and your team work.
An autocratic management style is characterized by strong, centralized control with a single source of authority. Communication flows from the top down (only one way) and team members are expected to follow orders.
An autocratic manager typically motivates employees externally through rewards and penalties.
Because of the command-and-follow nature of this management style, an autocratic approach is valuable in times of crisis or when time constraints demand rapid action.
The drawbacks of managing your team autocratically include:
- Causes staff to fear or dislike management
- Engenders a need for constant supervision
- Creates poor working relationships
Certain situations demand that you employ the autocratic management style, but, for the most part, it’s best to keep it to a minimum so as not to alienate your team.
A persuasive management style, like the autocratic style, is characterized by strong, centralized control that makes decisions for the business.
But, unlike autocratic managers, persuasive managers take the time to invite questions rather than levying “do this or else” policy mandates. Similarly, once management and ownership come to a conclusion, they will discuss with the team members the basis for the decision-making process.
Employees are then encouraged to commit to tasks through various persuasive techniques rather than through rewards and penalties.
In a consultative management style, policy and decision making still rests with managers and owners, but those higher-ups encourage a two-way form of communication.
Consultative managers will often hold discussions with team members to hear their opinions and input prior to finalizing a decision.
A consultative style of business management is an effective way to involve employees in the large-scale activities of your company. But it’s not without its drawbacks.
In some situations, a consultative management style can:
- Be more costly
- Slow the decision-making process
- Delay the implementation of important changes
It’s vital to use this management style sparingly so as not to hinder the progress of your business.
In a participative management style, owners spread the authority and power throughout the organization by presenting problems and issues for discussion and then working with employees to reach a final decision.
This type of style promotes employee empowerment because it gets team members actively involved in the direction of the project or the business as a whole. It also encourages each team member to find their own self-direction and to be intrinsically motivated rather than externally motivated.
Participative styles are frequently adopted by professional organizations where the intellectual abilities and skills of its employees are similar to each other.
Taken to the extreme, a participative management style can lead to a laissez-faire attitude where management abdicates responsibility for the direction of the business.
A participative style also allows for more business drift — when the organization doesn’t have an overall direction — because management isn’t making useful decisions to keep the company on course.
10 Types Of Management Styles For Effective Leadership
1) Democratic Management Style
Democratic leaders are eager to involve their staff in company decisions. If you choose this management style, you’re showing your team that you trust them and respect their input. It also displays a confidence in both your employees’ opinions and your own ability as a leader.
There’s no need to fire off commands or rule with an iron fist. You believe that employees can largely govern themselves and you’re simply a judge or referee to keep things moving in the right direction.
2) Inspirational Management Style
To be an inspirational leader is no easy task, but it is extremely effective when accomplished. The inspirational type of management style requires superb people skills, a big heart, and an honest desire to help your employees develop both in and outside of the workplace.
3) Authoritative Management Style
While there is much to be said in favor of a democratic leadership style, sometimes a situation calls for a dictator. Maybe you’re a new manager and the workplace seems a bit chaotic, lacking in order and structure. Or perhaps your employees tend to slack off and are in need of disciplinary action.
In either of these cases, you might need to adopt a more authoritative type of management style. But having an authoritative style of leadership doesn’t mean you need to be rude—remember that you can give orders with a smile and a “please.”
4) Results-Based Management Style
The magic word for results-based managers is efficiency. You’re not concerned with how things get done, as long as they get done well and in the quickest way possible.
You don’t feel the need to create every rule and method yourself—if an employee comes up with a superior way of doing things, you’re happy to make changes to company policy. The only thing that matters with this type of management style is results.
5) Laissez-Faire Management Style
The Laissez-Faire type of management style requires two things: an extremely laid-back attitude and a great deal of confidence in your staff. If you possess these two traits, you might be well-suited for a laissez-faire style of leadership.
This method is effective because laissez-faire managers don’t busy themselves with micromanaging employees. At the same time, employees appreciate the autonomy they’ve been given and will often show more initiative than if they were being told exactly what to do and how to do it.
6) Collaborative Management Style
The collaborative approach to leadership is similar to the democratic style but differs in one significant way. With a collaborative management style, you’re not simply asking your employees to participate in a yay-or-nay vote—you’re actively soliciting feedback from team members about company policies.
You’re looking to have real, thoughtful conversations about improving your business, which empowers your staff and may even provide some innovative solutions.
7) Example-Setting Management Style
This management style is exactly what it sounds like: you lead by consistently setting an impeccable example of the kind of work standards you expect at your business. The bar is set by your actions and your actions alone.
In some cases, this may even transform the ethics of and working environment of your business. Example-setting leaders are definitely not afraid to roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty to show the crew how things should be done.
8) Strategic Management Style
Strategic managers aren’t interested in the minute details of basic tasks. Instead, they’re focused on the bigger picture and long-term success of the business they manage.
If you have a strategic management style, you’re comfortable allowing assistant managers and shift leaders to oversee the majority of everyday responsibilities. While the crew gets the mundane work done, you’re planning marketing campaigns and preparing for expansion.
9) Affiliative Management Style
The affiliative manager is humble, hard-working, and confident. These types of managers make themselves a part of the team and lead from the front, rather than constantly reminding employees that they’re the one in charge.
If this is your preferred leadership style, you’re looking for opportunities to affiliate yourself with your staff and lending a helping hand wherever it’s needed. Employees see you as an ally and will respect the fact that you’re trying to help them succeed.
10) Charismatic Management Style
The charismatic management style—sometimes called the persuasive management style—is built around the personality and charm of the manager.
If this is your type of management style, you’re focused on developing personal relationships with your staff and building a team in your workplace. Employees are cooperative because they respect the fact that you’re interested in getting to know them as individuals.
Ultimately, any manager worth her salt will use a combination of these types of management styles. Leaders who know how to lead are flexible and quick to adapt to their environment.
How To Improve Your Management Style
The first step in improving your leadership is to identify which style you gravitate toward. Keep in mind that you may rely on several different styles as the need dictates. But, on closer examination, you’ll find a default style or two that you use in your normal managerial duties.
Once you’ve identified the management styles that dominate your work, you can take steps to make them stronger, better, and more well-rounded.
Here are six ways to do that.
1) Cultivate Self-Awareness
If you’ve reached this step in your quest to improve your management style, you’re already plenty self-aware — it took a healthy dose of that quality to identify which leadership style you rely on most. Now’s not the time to let up.
Continue to examine your feelings, motivations, strengths, and weaknesses as they apply to leading your team.
Doing so will help you respond better to both the daily grind of your job and the unforeseen challenges that may pop up. It will also help you identify where you need to improve and how you can perfect your chosen management style.
To cultivate self-awareness, try one or more of the following suggestions:
- Keep a journal about your leadership activities
- Occasionally push your leadership limits to see how it feels and what results it brings
- Ask for feedback from those you manage and those who manage you (more on this below)
- Talk to a colleague
- Don’t get defensive during any phase of this self-examination
2) Examine Your Values
You can think of your values in a number of different ways. They can be:
- Your principles
- Your standards of behavior
- Your judgment of what is important in life
However you choose to define it, examining your values comes down to the question, “What do you find important?”
After asking that question of yourself in regard to your management style, expand your view to include the rest of your life as well. The core values that you adhere to in your personal life should manifest in your professional life.
If they don’t, there’s a disconnect somewhere that you need to address in order to improve the way you manage your team.
3) Change The Way You Communicate
We all want to believe that we’re expert communicators. But when you turn your eye of self-awareness on the subject, what do you see?
Even if you feel that you don’t need to work on your communication to improve your management style, try changing your methods for a week, two weeks, or a month to see if you and your team can accomplish more.
For example, if you’ve been holding a Monday-afternoon meeting every week to discuss existing projects, try meeting with each team member one-on-one throughout the week instead. Or reduce the number of emails you send each day to improve your written communication and increase your efficiency.
However you choose to tweak your communication, record the results (in a journal, for example) to see what works, what doesn’t work, and why.
4) Ask For Input
Another effective way you can improve your management style is by asking for input from those above and below you in the chain of command.
While the feedback you receive from your manager is valuable in many ways, focus your efforts on the input from those you manage.
Most often, they are the ones “on the front lines,” as it were, and will have unique ideas about how you can improve your management style. They can help you find more effective and efficient ways to lead the team as a whole.
Asking your team for input will help them feel like a cohesive unit. And when they see you incorporating their suggestions, they’ll be inspired to improve themselves.
5) Seek Out Learning Opportunities
One of the best ways to improve your management style is to seek out learning opportunities in the form of on-going education. Furthering your education will give you new insight into the myriad nuances of your preferred management style and the pros and cons of other styles.
It will also expose you to other aspects of the business and management world that you may have been missing out on because you were so busy doing your job.
Whether you decide to pursue certificate work or go all-in toward a master’s degree, seeking out new learning opportunities will put you in contact with new people — teachers and students alike — who can expose you to new techniques, help you solidify your values, and improve the way you manage your team.
Free Up Time To Improve Your Leadership Skills
If you want to free up more time to improve your leadership skills, use Sling to create the perfect work schedule for your team. Formatting, producing, distributing, and editing the employee work schedule doesn’t leave a lot of time to develop your management style.
Not to mention the time it takes to keep track of employees clocking in and out, labor expenses, payroll, and overtime.
Sling simplifies and streamlines all of these processes so you can work on yourself. Not only is Sling an extremely powerful work schedule creator, but it’s also a mobile time clock, labor cost analyzer, intra-business messaging system, newsfeed manager, and employee task list all rolled into one easy-to-use package.
You can even use one Sling account to schedule employees across multiple locations. Now that’s power and flexibility! Add in the onboard A.I. that notifies you when there’s a scheduling conflict or you missed a request for time off, and you’ve got the perfect system for managing your employees.
The Sling app is free, easy to use, and will help you spend your time more efficiently so you can concentrate on honing your personal management style. From the retail and service industries to the healthcare and non-profit sectors, Sling will help you manage your business more effectively.