Management styles: Which leadership style is most efficient?

July 26, 2022  •  Reading Time: 12 min.

We all know that most management jobs involve challenging projects and that a leader has to take care of the employees’ well-being as well.

Did you know that there are different types of management styles (also called “leadership styles”) and that the particular approach employed can completely change the way employees work? In democratic management styles, for example, managers encourage employees to participate in the decision-making process. Autocratic management, on the other hand, involves a top-down approach in which communication from supervisors to employees is one-way.

In this article, we’ll give you an in-depth look at the different types of management styles that are an important part of soft skills in the workplace.

What exactly is a management style?

Managers are those who are responsible for others. They often have direct reports and thus also great responsibility.

To become a true “leader” – that is, to have employees who want to follow you because they believe in your ideals and the way you work – you need to adopt a specific leadership style that fits you, your employees, and also the corporate culture in your company.

A management style, therefore, is the method a leader goes about achieving their objectives.

📝 Note: An effective leader is someone who can adapt their leadership style to various factors without losing sight of goal achievement.

A number of elements influence someone’s leadership style. These factors include, for example, the company’s culture, policies within the organization, and also the commitment and skills of the employees. A manager’s leadership style is frequently influenced by factors beyond the company’s control, such as the economy or clients and consumers as well.

An effective manager with arms crossed in front of his team members

What are the different management styles?

Management styles can be divided into three broad categories:

Autocraticdemocratic, and laissez-faire.

📝 Note: Understanding the different styles is an important first step to improve your leadership skills.

Let’s now take a closer look at each management style and its subcategories to see the advantages and disadvantages of the various approaches.

👉 Managers, please pay attention: You may be able to find the style that suits you perfectly.

This article is also useful for you as an employee if you want to learn more about your boss’s personal management style or are even about to be promoted to manager yourself!

Autocratic management style

Autocratic managers typically make all the decisions, and communication is top-down.

In this leadership style, roles and tasks are clearly defined, and employees are expected to follow orders consistently. This style definitely has a number of advantages. For example, new, unskilled or unmotivated employees may be able to benefit from such a direct and supervised leadership. A quick decision-making process is another major advantage of autocratic leadership.

However, there are numerous drawbacks. Many employees dislike this management style since they have no direct control. Employee turnover tends to be higher as well because people feel they have no say in decision-making and therefore no opportunity to bring about change in the company either.

Furthermore, not everyone requires extensive supervision, so the micromanagement that might come with this leadership approach can be problematic. This style is also one of the least effective: Underdeveloped employees may feel overwhelmed because they are not given assistance, and the most skilled employees might be unable to demonstrate their abilities in such a rigorous environment.

Confused female career starter with questioning face about the autocratic management style

Persuasive management style

Charismatic leaders can utilize their persuasion skills to convince employees that the leader’s unilateral decision-making is in the best interest of the team or the firm as a whole.

✅ Managers who employ this approach should always endeavor to explain their decision-making process and the reasons for their actions. This can make employees feel that they are a part of key business decisions.

🚫 Employees may, however, feel confined by the restrictions placed on them, and might become frustrated since they are unable to provide feedback or develop solutions on their own.

Authoritative management style

Employees are expected to follow orders and not question management’s authority in this management style.

📝 Note: Many managers who practice this management style believe that their employees can’t perform well without them.

✅ This leadership style facilitates rapid decision-making and establishes clearly defined roles and responsibilities. Setting well-defined expectations, especially with a low-skilled workforce or large teams, can help people work more efficiently.

🚫 However, many employees are dissatisfied with an authoritarian management style. Employee engagement suffers as a result, and employees and management very often adopt a “us” versus “them” mentality.

📝 Note: This leadership style can be used in a few situations, such as when quick decisions are required, like in an organizational crisis.

Pacesetting management style

This management style requires very high performance and a super high level of work quality. In such a team, results are everything.

✅ With short-term goals, a pacesetting management approach can be particularly effective. Highly skilled and experienced teams sometimes really flourish under a leader who sets the pace. Such a manager does not hesitate to fix problems, knowing that if they are not addressed, they will have a negative impact on the organization’s success.

🚫 The pressure to succeed can be tremendous, and the team may feel overwhelmed. Furthermore, with such a strong emphasis on results, work can quickly become monotonous and boring. If the focus is just on achieving goals, team relationships and work ethic may suffer as well.

Democratic management emphasizes teamwork for problem solving.

Democratic management style

The majority rules in a democratic leadership style.

This means that managers include their staff in decision-making because they understand that the people themselves are the most important component of a team’s success. Nonetheless, the manager is ultimately in charge of the final choice.

Communication is two-way, top-down and bottom-up. This method allows for multiple points of view to be considered in all choices. Morale frequently increases as a result of employees’ participation in the decision-making process, and a strong, trusting connection between manager and employees develops.

However, if this leadership style isn’t executed well, it might be ineffective. Leaders who alter a choice frequently, even after the entire team has democratically voted on it, may sabotage success.

📝 Note: Democratic managers usually give each individual employee more responsibility in their daily work. This often motivates employees and boosts work ethic.

Coaching management style

The manager’s role in this leadership style is to manage their team while prioritizing their professional development.

📝 Note: Above all, a manager with a coaching leadership style wants to encourage learning, development, and professional growth.

✅ Since they know they can grow on the job, many employees feel particularly appreciated by a coaching style of leadership and are thus more willing to commit to the organization. This is because coaching managers provide professional development possibilities for their staff.

🚫 Employees may compete for developmental tasks, resulting in a loss of team cohesion. Coaching managers can form deep ties with their employees by consistently teaching them new things. However, this might also lead to competition that strains relationships between employees.

📝 Note: Coaching managers are enthusiastic about teaching and draw a lot of energy from watching their employees develop.

Consultative management style

The manager makes the final decision in this leadership style, but takes into account all of the information offered by employees beforehand.

📝 Note: This style is frequently employed in highly specialized fields. The reason for this is that the employees are usually the experts, and their input is essential to management decisions.

✅ This leadership style encourages managers and employees to bond while also fostering trust within the team. Because they may benefit from their employees’ ideas, the manager grows with the team.

🚫 The consultative style can take a long time to master, and if a leader is not practiced in time management of this process, they can quickly fall behind company goals.

📝 Note: Relying too heavily on this leadership style might cause staff to lose trust in their supervisor because they are continuously called in to fix problems.

Participative management style

Employees are provided with thorough knowledge about the organization and are encouraged to come up with their own ideas for the company in this approach.

✅ As management solicits and collaborates with employees’ ideas and opinions, the staff may feel that they are valued by the company and often respond with increased motivation.

🚫 The processes associated with participative management might be lengthy. Giving employees access to sensitive information in industries with trade secrets can also be extremely risky.

Young female manager with a laissez-faire leadership approach

Laissez-faire management style

Laissez-faire managers trust their staff to perform tasks without supervision while also providing them entire authority over their decision-making and problem-solving.

📝 Note: With this management style, management only becomes involved when employees ask for support. This means that managers monitor their team’s actions while remaining entirely detached and only assisting when necessary.

Did you know that the term “laissez-faire” originates in French and translates to “to leave alone”? People led by laissez-faire managers are therefore almost completely free of management oversight.

Leaders who use a laissez-faire management styles usually intervene when something goes wrong or the team demands it. As a result, a laissez-faire manager is frequently only present at the start and finish of the work process. At the beginning, they provide guidelines and answers questions. At the end, they review the results and give advice on the outcomes.

📝 Note: Laissez-faire leadership is often associated with innovation, vision, and creativity. Employees that have more autonomy are more likely to be highly motivated to accomplish their tasks well.

Visionary management style

Visionary managers focus on inspiring their staff. Such leaders can motivate employees by describing their goals and the reasons behind them, and thus convincing people to work toward their vision.

📝 Note: Team members are usually allowed the flexibility to execute their responsibilities with minimum intervention.

✅ Employees with visionary managers are very committed because they believe in what they (want to) achieve and therefore complete their tasks to the best of their ability. Many workers are happier as well, and extremely creative solutions are frequently found.

🚫 Not all leaders have the ability to inspire others and execute great visionary management. Since this approach cannot be faked, it must be ingrained in the leaders.

📝 Note: Many visionary leaders are known for their toughness while also remaining fair. They normally have a set vision, but they are always open to hearing what their people have to say.

Delegative management style

The leader is only present to assign work in this type of management style. Employees are free to execute their tasks as they see fit once duties are allocated.

📝 Note: The supervisor will only interfere once a task has been finished in order to examine the work and offer suggestions for improvement.

✅ Especially in companies with highly skilled workers, this approach can really pay off. This is because innovation and creativity are particularly encouraged and people who already have very good skills can work completely independently. Employees’ problem-solving abilities are also strengthened because everyone is allowed to handle their own issues.

🚫 It may be that productivity suffers without guidance. Employees might also lack direction and focus with this style of leadership.

Employee who is not happy with their supervisor's management style

What happens when the wrong management style prevails?

Elements like employee engagement and turnover are frequently influenced by managers.

In case the wrong style of management is employed, it may result in the following:

  • Lower productivity
  • Lower quality of work
  • Lower profitability

Improper leadership, or the “wrong manager”, can therefore demotivate employeesreduce productivity, and even make them leave the organization.

🧐 How can one tell which management style is most appropriate?

🤨 Many employees are promoted to leadership positions based on their expertise rather than their leadership skills. If they are suddenly expected to lead an entire team and handle difficult situations, a supervisor may not be up to the task.

✅ Very often, they must first figure out which management style is right for them and their team. Although this task may seem tedious at first, it is important to remember that leadership styles are not fixed and can be changed at any time.

✅ The most important thing is to maintain regular communication with the entire team, as well as the desire to improve oneself in order to make the workplace as pleasant as possible for everyone.

Management styles – Conclusion: Which management style is the best?

Understanding management styles is the first step in finding the type of management style that best suits your organization and your own personality.

📝 Note: Applying effective management styles can not only have a positive impact on achieving business goals, but may also help the overall company culture flourish.

However, there is no management style that can be called the best or the only one. As we have already mentioned, it is most important to look at internal factors as well as oneself. Only in this way can the most effective style of leadership be found and applied.

Charismatic and highly-skilled manager in remote office chatting with her team members

Management styles – FAQ

What are the 3 basic management styles?

1️⃣ Laissez-faire management style. 2️⃣ Democratic management style. 3️⃣ Autocratic management style.

Which management styles make employees feel valued?

Both laissez-faire and democratic leadership styles make employees feel valued, increase their motivation, and foster a great relationship between the manager and their team. The positive impact of visionary leadership on corporate culture additionally often exceeds that of other management styles.

What are bad management styles?

There are some leadership styles that should be avoided. These include, for example, excessive micromanagement or overly autocratic leadership. The favoring of individuals, poor organization and negligent management overall should also be refrained from.

What is a hands-on management style?

A manager that is highly involved in their team’s everyday operations and decisions is known as a hands-on leader. This kind of manager constantly motivates their employees, facilitating a productive workplace.