A Comprehensive Guide to Management Styles – What Style Are You?

Management plays an integral role in strengthening the bonds between employees and making them work together as a cohort. This places huge responsibility on management’s shoulders to ensure each and every employee is content with their responsibilities and endeavours to make their team deliver the best level of work possible, day in and day out.

Whether you’re leading a new team, planning, organising or directing a project – how you exude your management style can determine which ones works best with different types of team members. No matter what your current style is – flexibility is a key characteristic for all management styles and will guarantee you the likability of your employees if you’re able to adapt to different types of management.

Want to jump straight in? Use our menu to identify the different types of management styles and take our quiz:









Take our quiz!


The Business Dictionary defines management as a role that ascertains the “organisation and coordination of the activities of a business in order to achieve defined objectives”.

Effective managers are coaches, facilitators and people developers. They need to be able to challenge people, ideas and ask stimulating questions to draw out the best from their team. Being a good manager also involves having good management skills, as being able to influence your team, change direction and act quickly towards change.

All in all, a successful manager boils down to their relationships between themselves and their staff. The manner in which they plan out tasks and delegate them effectively to their team is what separates a good manager from an exceptional one.


In today’s economic climate, being a good manager means making the most of the right information, attitudes and skills in unison – by having one or two of these attributes and not the other can affect how employees perceive you, but by utilising a management style that works for you and your employees you’ll be able to leverage your available assets and make everyone’s working lives easier.

Whilst some niche skills are only acquired through your chosen industry – the most common skills a good manager possesses is common amongst all working environments:

· Motivation
· Problem solving
· Professionalism
· Accountability
· Communication
· Technical skills
· Innovation


· Posses the ability to coach their staff and assist when needed
· Seek feedback from their team
· Know how to resolve disputes professionally and efficiently
· Delegate tasks effectively and fairly amongst their team
· Take the lead when needed
· Encourages staff morale and genuine care for their well-being
· Sets clear goals
· Actively motivates and empowers their team


Inadvertently, your management style can affect employee performance and morale. With this being said, different management styles can generate different results, so it’s important to select and work towards a style that will benefit the team and company at large. 

There are times where one management style is the most adhered to in an office, but other styles might be incorporated in different departments. By understanding how management styles affect productivity and output allows managers to adapt effectively to suit their teams’ working style.


Whether you manage a small team, an entire sales floor or the whole company – it’s your job to ensure that the work required is completed in a timely manner and of good quality. The types of styles we discuss may very well intertwine with each other, but you may find that you possess more qualities from one style to another.

Employee motivation and productivity is highly affected by your approach to management. By identifying the several types of managers and what management style best suits you - you can figure out how to adapt to a style that best compliments your working environment:


The autocratic management style, also known as the authoritarian management style is commonly characterised by having control over all decisions and using little input from your employees. The choices an autocratic manager makes is generally based on their vision and judgement alone, which often leads this type of manager not accept advice from anyone else.

Typical characteristics of or an autocratic approach to management is being seen as ‘bossy’ or ‘dictator-like’, however there are times when this management style can work well, depending on the task at hand and the people around you.

Two types of autocratic managers exist:

  • Directive – When an autocratic manager makes all the decisions and micro-manages their employees
  • Permissive – When an autocratic manager makes all the decisions but gives employees leeway to carry out their own work (no micromanagement)

Generally, this style is used when a team is falling behind on targets or during other times of business crisis – generally in the military field where orders must be taken without hesitation.

In summary – the autocratic management style aims to:
  • Make decisions with little to no input from the team
  • Dictate all tasks and processes
  • Provide a very structural schedule with little to no creative involvement
  • Create a micro-management environment
  • Provide effective turnaround, especially if the organisation is in a time of crisis and needs to produce work quickly
  • Fit seamlessly with highly-pressurised industries where employees need to perform specific tasks without worrying about the complex implications


  • An autocrat will generally refuse to delegate further authority in effort to not lose their own.
  • It also negates any form of teamwork within your cohort.
  • An autocrat is ‘stretched thin’ as they set themselves oversight and responsibility on everything without assistance.
  • This often leads to false sense of superiority and makes employees feel inadequate in their roles.
  • A higher risk of communication breakdown due to lack of feedback – which encourages misunderstanding of tasks
  • The decisions made solely by an autocratic manager can be detrimental to the success of a team and/or business due to our era’s technological and sociological advances
  • Morale is decreased due to employees knowing their input will not be taken into consideration
  • Is unsuitable in a collaborative environment which involves knowledge sharing and cooperation


A participative management style is a type of management style that involves employees becoming active and participating in decision making processes. It’s a style that encourages ideas to be exchanged freely amongst a group.

Because employees are encouraged to share their thoughts, participative management can lead to creative ideas and solutions to projects – making everyone involved more likely to take satisfaction from the results. The participative management approach to management has also been shown to be one of the most highly productive in the workplace due to its ability to fit seamlessly in many industries.

Participative management can be broken down into 4 different decision-making styles:


Collective decision making involves all group members taking responsibility for the decisions made. The manager must make it clear which employees are responsible for each decision and/or process.


Democratic decision making highly encourages all employees taking part in a discussion, but the final outcome will be determined by the manager. Once the decision has been made this must be relayed back to the team and any objections or alterations must be resolved.


Very similar to democratic decision making – autocratic styles place more emphasis on deadlines, whereas democratic allows room for more discussion and is generally slower paces. The advantage of this kind of style means results are obtained at a faster rate.


The consensus style is a hands-off approach that gives power to the employees within the team. Decisions are made by the team by casting votes – should a minority not approve of decision then the majority must work to help overcome this so the team can proceed.

In summary – the participative management style aims to:
  • Encourages discussion amongst the team for knowledge sharing and decision making
  • Boosts morale due to employees feeling like they have a voice in the decision making process
  • Increased range of business solutions based on employees creative outputs
  • It offers a range of sub-styles that can be adapted depending the teams’ collective nature

    Although democratic management has been known to be one of the most effective styles, there are a few downsides:

    • Slower pace of decision making – especially if this style is adopted for the first time
      • If you’re in a group or project setting where the roles aren’t clear or you’re under a strict deadline, then democratic management styles can lead to incomplete assignments and communication failure.
  • Members in a group might not have the right knowledge to provide valuable participation for the decision-making process – this style generally works best with members who are skilled and can share their knowledge without hesitation.

    • Participative managers have a tendency to become indecisive if many arguments and opinions are voiced in certain situations, particularly during a business crisis.


    The coaching management style places importance on building rapport with employees, as well as the task at hand, and uses each and every opportunity to improve their employees skills, development and motivation. This type of management style is most effective when employees have a good level of responsibility, a decent level of experience and are adaptable.

    This one-to-one style focuses on developing the team, but on an individual basis – showing them how to improve their performance, connect and reach their own goals (as well as for the company). It works very well for individuals who show initiative and want to improve their personal development.

    Ultimately the coaching management style places emphasis on encouragement, inspiration and motivation. They set a positive working environment, define clear goals and understand the company’s business goals.

    In summary – the coaching management style aims to:
  • Raise performance and development
  • Listen to the needs of their team
  • Work at their teams pace as opposed to their own
  • Actively listens and empathises
  • Challenges employees to aid their ability to problem solve independently
  • Helps set definitive goals
  • Provides feedback on a frequent basis
  • Gives regular praise and areas for improvement

    • Coaching management styles are least effective when the manager lacks proficiency in their role
      • Or are attempting to coach a team who are not open to change or learning new things.
      • If a manager attempts to use this style of management, but fails to actually address areas of skill development to an employee – this can end up being a waste of resources and a failed attempt at coaching a team, leaving an employee confused about their own development.

    • It can also be falsely perceived as micro-management by an employee, as this style can come across as undermining their own abilities to develop in their role.


    The affiliative management style is a highly mutual management technique that focuses on building connections and harmony within a business. They are frequent in providing positive feedback to keep employees on track and are best suited to managing teams that require reassurance – perhaps after working under an inexperienced manager.

    In summary – the affiliative management style aims to:
  • Affiliative managers will generally have a harder time dealing with problems and conflicts head on
  • In addition to this - reduced work performance can be observed due to their need to give positive feedback on a regular basis, as opposed to constructive.
  • There’s a tendency to miss poor performance within the team and give the impression that said mediocre performance is acceptable. In time – this can lead to deterioration of the teams’ overall performance.
  • They are more likely to reward personal characteristics/traits rather than work-related achievements in order to make their employees feel happy – reducing overall work performance.

    • Affiliative managers will generally have a harder time dealing with problems and conflicts head on
      • In addition to this - reduced work performance can be observed due to their need to give positive feedback on a regular basis.
    • There’s a tendency to miss poor performance within the team and give the impression that said mediocre performance is acceptable. In time – this can lead to deterioration of the teams’ overall performance.
    • They are more likely to reward personal characteristics/traits rather than work-related achievements in order to make their employees feel happy – reducing overall work performance.


    A term coined by Daniel Goleman in 2002 - The visionary management style can make a manager appear inspiring due to their ability to clearly see what you want the future to bring for your business. They don’t dictate how their team should meet their end goal, but keeps the end goal in sight and instead encourages their immediate team to use their own initiative to solve issues. The visionary management style requires passion, strong leadership skills and the necessary knowledge to both plan and achieve long term goals.

    This type of management style is best suited to a team or business that requires a new vision or dramatic change in direction. They are able to determine the business’s strengths and competitors weaknesses and use this knowledge to pioneer change.

    In summary – the visionary management style aims to:
  • Promote organised learning, creative thinking and problem-solving
  • Developing strong relationships within the team
  • Encourages and embraces change
  • Pioneering new ideas to come on top of competitors with the teams’ support.

    • The visionary management style can be less effective when you’re working with a team that is more experienced than you are (in this case, a democratic style would be best until you can establish how to move forward).
      • Using this type of management style for too long can be overbearing to your team, as the constant attitude for ‘change’ can come across overpowering and confusing.
    • A visionary leader cannot purely have a vision without a strategy to reach said vision. Acquiring this balance is difficult and should only be adapted by experienced managers.
    • Not knowing who your customers are can provide unrealistic business vision, which can be detrimental to the organisation.


    A pacesetting manager sets high standards for themselves and their immediate team. They generally won’t ask their employees to do anything they wouldn’t do themselves, and are quick to identify those not ‘keeping up with the pace’ of their decisions. They will then push said employees if they feel like they are falling behind, or replace them with individuals who are more capable for the job at hand.

    One of the biggest pros of this management style is that pacesetters are able to achieve results quickly for their business, which in the short term achieves a high-energy group of employees and the ability to provide outstanding performance. Although they don’t have the time to provide positive feedback on every task, but on the flip side are happy to jump into an issue head first if they feel like their project isn’t progressing fast enough.

    In summary – the pacesetting management style aims to:
  • Sets high standards of performance targets
  • Achieves quick results
  • Take over tasks and provide help if employees are struggling or progression is slow
  • Compliments employees who are self-motivated and require little direction

    • Employees can get very overwhelmed at the turnaround speed required which in turn can affect team morale.
    • With their being such haste in this management style, tasks can be misunderstood which can lead to employees not producing the standard of work required and the likelihood of work-related stress.
    • There is no room for flexibility or input from employees due to the “do as I do, now” approach from a pacesetting style of management.


    Also known as delegative management, the laissez-faire style of management entails managers being ‘hands off’ in their approach by allowing employees to make their own decisions (with managers taking responsibility for all decisions and actions taken).

    Laissez-faire management is highly effective in group situations where employees are highly skilled, motivated and capable of working independently with no guidance. The autonomy of working freely can help employees feel more job satisfaction, assuming the high level of passion and motivation to complete tasks is there to begin with.

    In summary – the laissez-faire management style aims to:
    • Gives employees ownership of the work they produce which in turn encourages empowerment
    • Managers can step back and focus on more complex, managerial-related tasks
    • Works well with highly motivated self-starters
    • Compliments creative teams as opposed to autonomous employees


    • If something were to go wrong then there has to be someone to blame. Whilst management might blame the employee responsible – they can argue that management were too hands off.
      • If this happens frequently within a team then morale can decrease drastically and cause a reduced level of productivity.
    • Feelings of disconnection and ignorance can be felt by employees due to the manager’s hands-off approach
    • Adaptation to different circumstances and conditions in the workplace are more of a challenge with this style of management in place.
      • This is due to the fact that employees are completing tasks independently and therefore will find it extremely difficult to implement a change that must take place immediately.
        • Employees cannot be forced to adapt because how they complete their work is down to them – not their manager.
    • There’s also an increased risk of litigation due to the fact managers practicing this style of management delegate tasks and expect it to  be completed – providing little to no guidelines. This gives employees an active defense if they are let go for incompetence.


    The MBWA approach to management is a style that consists of ‘wandering around’ in an unstructured manager to check up on workflow from employees. Managers will generally ‘wander’ unexpectedly rather than plan visits or meetings – which have been shown to improve morale, productivity and overall management of a team.

    MBWA has been known to encourage participation and spontaneity, which in turn inspires trust among the team and contributes to an open-door policy. MBWA can also help achieve commercial awareness and problem-solving opportunities when you connect with your employees at the front line, and in turn boost your employee’s knowledge on the subject matter upon feedback and encourage discussion.

    In summary – the MBWA management style aims to:
  • Encourages approachability
  • Gets a better idea of the bigger picture through reporting and employee insights due to physically getting up and talking to them directly.
  • Increased levels of accountability as employees will know you’re still checking up on their progress
  • Improved communication which increases the teams likelihood in spotting issues and resolving them efficiently
  • Trust can be built effectively within your team and other departments if you are seen walking around and talking to teams and individuals frequently.

    • Physically walking around isn’t enough to show you’re there as a manager
      • It’s what you do whilst you’re wandering around the type of dialogue you engage in is what really matters. The MBWA is not suited to everyone and should really only be adopted by individuals who really want to get to know their employees and operations by following up on concerns and feedback.
    • If trust between a manager and their team is an issue then the MBWA approach to management can make employees feel like they’re being watched too closely, mimicking a micro-managing environment.


    Knowing what management style you are can really help bring out the best in your team, and yourself. It allows you to fully understand where your strengths lie and how your management style is interpreted by your team. It can even help you adapt to a different style of management that could help your team increase their productivity, morale and loyalty.

    Ready to find out what your management style is? Click below to get started – don’t forget to share this quiz with your friends, family and colleagues!