A team without a manager is much like a car without an engine; the skeleton is there, but there’s nothing to galvanize it and move it forward. Just about anyone could become a successful manager if there were a rulebook to follow, but that isn’t the case. There are too many variables and, due to this, your management style comes into play to regulate the often difficult situations that managers must face.
A successful manager will aim to direct their team towards the accomplishment of predetermined goals and, in addition, plan and organize the legwork it’ll take to get there.
One project might call for a different approach, or a different management style than another. Conversely, one individual might respond better to a certain type of management style than another employee.
It’s all about finding the best way to work as a team. And, in some cases, that might mean compromising your natural management style or intuition and tailoring it to your contextual circumstances.
Whatever the case may be, we’ve collected 5 examples of different management styles and how to use them to keep your leadership game on top.
Here’s what we’ll cover:
5 Types of Management Styles
Management is important in helping a group or organization achieve their collective goals, whether that be liaising with a client to complete an important project or meeting sales targets.
Here are some of the different management styles that you can draw from (or not) depending on your team, company and workflow.
An autocratic manager will make their decisions unilaterally. That is, they’ll make decisions without input from other stakeholders or subordinates. This management style often has its followers aggressively work their employees to meet their standards of quality and perfection.
An autocratic management style is the classic top-down approach that so many micromanagers emulate. Whilst this technique can save time as only one person’s viewpoints need to be taken into consideration, this style can also drive employees away, especially those who are seeking more autonomy in the workplace.
Additionally, such an aggressive management style eliminates any room for innovation or new ideas from members of the team. It’s the manager’s way or the highway and this is a sentiment that many people struggle to accept.
On the other end of the scale, laissez-faire management allows employees to make the most decisions. The manager interjects and provides guidance when needed.
Managers following this management style trust their employees implicitly to do their work and to do it well . This is ideal for managing a trustworthy team that knows what they’re doing and how to do it. However, this style can be problematic when your employees are new or unmotivated.
This style is popular in businesses like start-ups, where risk-taking is favourable. But this can lead to difficulties in making concrete and informed decisions in larger, more scaled-up organizations.
3. Management By Walking Around (MBWA)
When you actually have boots on the ground, you become a lot more perceptive to problems that might otherwise not be apparent.
MBWA is a classic technique which involves the manager floating around the office and soaking up the employees’ thoughts. In doing so, the manager is able to gather information that can then be fed back into the decision-making process while monitoring task progress.
Certain rivalries or tensions between groups can be felt and better dealt with when you’re interacting with your team and communicating with everyone on it. You humanize yourself and establish yourself as a friend, not just as a manager.
The problem, however, arises when staff don’t support their manager; the manager might lose morale, or the staff might have reservations in expressing how they really feel. Additionally, having a manager over you constantly and tracking your progress can produce unnecessary pressure and drive productivity down.
This management style allows for employees and the manager to make decisions as a collective. Somewhere in between laissez-faire and autocratic, this style offers employees the opportunity to engage in decision-making and agree upon everything as a majority.
Managers following this management style allows their team a lot of influence and sway in the decision making process. This style is useful in helping cultivate an inclusive work culture and for tackling decisions with a string of possible outcomes while developing a trusting relationship between the leadership team and the employees that they manage.
This management style allows for employees to work to their full potential – speaking up about problems whenever they arise but can also be inefficient and slow, especially the entire team has to be consulted before a decision can be reached.
5 Examples of Leaders and their Management Styles
Apple visionary, Steve Jobs’ management style has been said by some to be a bit abrasive. For an overwhelming majority of Apple’s past employees, abrasive might even be a bit of an understatement.
According to Robert Bies, a professor of management at Georgetown University, Steve Jobs’ management style was often said to be aggressive bordering on abusive.
Jobs’ autocratic leadership style meant he was a demanding and forceful manager who yelled at his employees whenever they didn’t meet his standards.
At the same time, it would be incorrect to say that Job’s management style didn’t contribute to the company’s massive success.
According to Bies, there was “plenty of evidence of abuse” but at the same time, you could “see that he’s a motivator. He was pushing the envelope for excellence” in his products. Whether or Job’s management style was beneficial to the company or served detriment is a hard question to answer. But the success of Apple speaks for itself.
Microsoft co-founder and innovator Bill Gates started Microsoft as an unceasingly hard worker. In an interview with Paul Allen, Microsoft co-founder and business partner to Bill Gates, said that Gates “drove others as hard as he drove himself.”
Sometimes, he would see Gates “prowl” the parking lot to see who had shown up to work and when.
Gates held his employees to the same standards of perfection as business rival Steve Jobs had. But Allen said that Gates was not averse to feedback from staff, especially when Gates’ deadlines and goals were not realistic.
According to Allen, “if you made a strong case and were fierce about it and you had the data behind you, Bill would react like a bluffer with a pair of threes”. And he might change his course.
Gates endorsed the Management By Walking Around (MBWA) management style. That is, almost to an excessive degree, but he knew when to dial it back and listen to his team when it was necessary.
It might come as a surprise to hear that business magnate and investor Warren Buffet’s management style is a laissez faire approach. Managing as many funds and investments as Buffet, one would think that the philanthropist would take a more hands-on approach to leadership a-la Steve Jobs or Bill Gates.
Charles Munger, Buffet’s long time business partner describes his partner’s management style as “genius.”
According to Munger, Buffet spends half of his day reading and the other half “talking one on one…with highly gifted people whom he trusts and who trust him.”
Munger says that part of Buffet’s genius is his ability to “create a hands-off culture that encourages entrepreneurs” to do their job and do it well, eliminating the need for much input or active management from their superiors.
Taking a democratic management style, CEO of PepsiCo Indra Nooyi nearly doubled company revenue from $35 billion in 2006 to $63.5 billion in 2017. Nooyi’s secret? Listening to and respecting everyone on her team.
Nooyi opened up about her approach to management in a podcast. Here, she champions the notion that diversity, inclusion and a plurality of ideas are key to drawing out the best candidates and empowering them to perform.
Nooyi says that writing letters to the parents of her team members is recognition that is “worth more than money, stock runs, hugs, tickets – anything – because at the end of the day, when your parents say to you, ‘I’m so proud of you; your boss just wrote to me saying you’re awesome,’ the look on their face is worth more than one million dollars.”
Nooyi believes in the power of her people and its a power that translates directly into increasing PepsiCo’s revenue.
David Abney’s rise to the top was not a miraculous climb, but one borne out of many failures and setbacks. Abney spent more than 4 decades with UPS working a variety of positions ranging from delivery truck driver to Chief Operating Officer to his fairly recent tenure as Chairman of the Board and CEO.
According to Abney, “failure was extremely frustrating to [him] early in [his] career,” a sentiment that he sought to fix through his leadership style. He goes on to say that “everyone fears failure, especially young people just starting out in a job and hoping to impress their bosses.”
For Abney, this managerial tenant is so important that he wakes up early to eat breakfast with the rest of his staff in the employee cafeteria. He is making himself available for anybody to talk to.
Even though it is himself that makes the executive decisions, he recognizes that “too many people are too busy talking to hear the wisdom of others. As a result, they waste valuable opportunities to learn and grow.”
Through his consultative management style, UPS has experienced a 14 percent growth in share price since Abney took over leadership in 2014.
Tips of How You Can Pick the Best Management Style
To pick the best management style to suit you, the key takeaway is to consider these 3 factors: yourself, your employees, and your business. Determine which management style you naturally gravitate towards and what compliments your natural demeanour. You don’t want to spend your working day pretending to be something you’re not.
At the same time, evaluate which management style members of your team are going to respond to. This is where so-called ‘man management’ comes into play.
In football, for instance, the Scottish Manchester manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, was renowned for implementing different techniques to approach different individuals.
Although one player might take being shouted at as an incentive to prove their boss wrong, another player might receive the same interaction as a demotivator. Point being, take your team into consideration when choosing your management style.
Certain management styles are bound to work better in certain sectors; in a start-up with just 3 team members, it might be inefficient to employ an MBWA style as this is tailored to a business with more scope and reach.
Whatever you choose, make sure to respect your business, honour your team, and stay true to yourself.
Key Takeaways On Management Styles
Some of the above examples may have surprised you, but it’s plain to see that no matter the person, industry or sector, management styles will differ from depending on your team, individual nature and organization.
Here 3 key takeaways on how to pick a management style perfect for you.
Know yourself. Don’t choose a management style simply because you want to emulate a Fortune 500 CEO. Select one that aligns with your values and your unique skill set. If the management style you chose is not conducive to who you are as a person, then you’ll only experience problems later down the road.
Know your team. It’s not enough just knowing yourself, you have to know your team too. Being a great manager means staying connected with those that you work with. That means requesting 2-way feedback and holding regular meetings. Once you’re familiar with your team members, you can select an approach that best works for everyone.
Know your organization. Depending on the industry your organization is in, management style suitability may vary greatly. What’s the company culture and expectations? Is there a management style that “makes more sense” than another? Don’t forget your organization’s own style when you’re selecting your own.