During recruitment, much attention is paid to candidates’ qualifications. However, the same premium is not placed on deciphering if they will be a managerial fit. Companies fail to match candidates with the right management position a whopping 82 percent of the time. So, companies lose millions each year to poor management, and more than 50 percent of employees quit organizations to escape bad managers.

For the benefit of everyone, any manager should ponder on the right management style to employ before taking up a supervisory role. Your management style reveals the sort of leader you are. Top-performing managers understand their management styles and know when (and how) to incorporate other styles of management in appropriate situations.

In this article, you will understand how you can identify your management style and where you’ll find the right fit for your style.

Companies fail to match candidates with the right management position a whopping 82 percent of the time – Gallup, Inc. 

What is a Management Style?

A management style is an approach that managers adopt to perform their duties. It includes everything from the organizational structure, conflict management style, and even the delegation system a manager adopts. Management styles are as varied as there are managers; every manager adopts one or more of them, consciously or inadvertently.

The Various Management Styles

If you search the web, you’ll find tons of different management styles. However, over the years, these styles have crystallized into three. They are the autocratic, democratic, and laissez-faire management styles. We will further discuss other sub-management styles under each broad heading.

The Autocratic Management Style

Hand pointing in a direction for people to follow

The Autocratic management style sees the manager as the head of the team. There is no room for collaboration, and information flows from the manager down to the subordinates.

The manager here issues instructions and looks over the shoulders of the employees to confirm that the instructions are carried out to the letter. This style increases productivity, especially in the manager’s presence. It also ensures that employees have access to clear instructions.

The Autocratic management style is further broken down into the following sub-categories:

Persuasive Management Style

In this sub-type of autocratic management style, the manager “persuades” the subordinates to follow their lead. It gives employees the illusion that they are part of the decision-making process even though they probably aren’t.

Paternalistic Management Style

The paternalistic manager makes decisions ostensibly in the interest of the subordinates. However, the decision-making process is still unilateral, with no opportunity for deviation from the subordinates.

Democratic Management Style

Team casting democratic votes

The democratic management style prioritizes collaboration in decision-making. The manager invites the opinion of subordinates and considers them, although the call is ultimately that of the manager. Communication goes both ways in this type of management style. Interestingly, this is the recommended management option for those looking to improve relations with their subordinates.

The democratic management style has the following sub-categories:

Coaching Management Style

The relationship between the leaders and their subordinates here is akin to that of a coach and team player. Thus, the manager primarily seeks the professional advancement of teammates. This informs every decision.

Transformational Management Style

The goal of the transformational management style is to produce transformed subordinates. Managers consistently raise the bar for subordinates and push them to scale up. The managers also offer encouragement, support, and advice to ensure subordinates excel. Managers here consider themselves innovators.

Laissez-faire Management Style

This is the direct opposite of the authoritative management style. A laissez-faire manager operates a hands-off approach. They appear only to delegate tasks, and during the delivery stage.

Subordinates then control every other aspect of their work with little or no oversight. The various models under this head include

The Delegative Management Style

The manager merely delegates tasks and then shows up to review the work done after the task has been completed. This style works best for organizations with many skilled workers. It increases autonomy and the satisfaction most employees will gain from their work.

Visionary Management Style

Visionary manager influences their subordinates by explaining the vision to them. Everything from that point is then left to the subordinate. This style requires a lot of communication and feedback from both ends.

A manager’s preferred management style usually depends on their personality, goals, motivation, and level of expertise.

What Management Style Best Fits You?

Deciding on the management style that works for you is much easier after you’ve learned the different management styles. However, you should know you may have to switch between management styles. Sometimes, you may juggle several of them simultaneously. What should ultimately inform your choice should be any or a combination of the following:

Your Personality

People approach tasks and leadership differently. A person’s preferred solution usually depends on their personality, goals, motivation, and level of experience. As a manager, you need to identify the style aligned with these qualities.

For example, if you are introverted and have a hard time discussing at length or letting people into your space, it could be that the persuasive and coaching management styles aren’t really for you.

To be able to figure out what style works for you requires a heightened sense of self-awareness. And since everyone is unique in personality and qualities, there are no rules to it.

You can begin by taking a quick personality test online to find out what your personality really is.

Team Needs

A manager’s core role is to provide direction and leadership for their team. As such, every effective manager considers the needs of team members and adjusts in ways that he can best meet those needs.

For instance, you can have a few socially awkward geniuses on the team. Trying to get them to engage with the whole team democratically can be a serious chore. Thus, you can either set defined goals for them and go Laissez-faire or go autocratic and enforce precise procedural instructions.

Again, there’s no rule to this. You could be creative enough to find a way to incorporate non-conversational democracy into your team. Feel free to experiment. Be careful, nonetheless. Remember you’re dealing with humans that have wills of their own.

The Organization

The type, business, culture, and needs of a company can dictate the suitable management style. These are not static and may change as the company evolves.

For example, Amazon is a very fertile ground for people with visionary management styles. However, Apple transitioned from Steve Jobs’s autocratic management style toward a more democratic management system under Tim Cook.

These management styles employed by companies are well in tune with the times and the strategy laid out by the organization’s top management.

So, if you find yourself working at a company that encourages a management style contradictory to yours, you might want to adjust accordingly.

How To Improve Your Management Style

Adjusting to a company that encourages a different management style from what you are used to can be difficult.

Sometimes, companies may even encourage your style of management but would require you to improve at it.

Great news. You can get better. And, here are a few ideas to help you do it.

Understand your personality and temperament

Managing people is not easy. Humans are strong-willed, self-absorbed, and intelligent. This means that they are often focused on their own feelings and interests. As a result, managers have to walk a fine line between frustration and excitement.

Gaining better control over this rollercoaster of feelings will significantly improve your management style. And the first step to gaining control is knowing what sends you off the edge.

So, you first need to pay attention to what gets you off balance emotionally (frustrated, angry, over-excited, etc).

Then, pay attention to how you react when you’re having any of these feelings as well as how it rubs off on your team. Remember emotions are infectious. In a team, you can call it energy or vibe.

To begin, you can take some personality tests, collect feedback from colleagues about your reactions and behavioral patterns when you’re emotional, and use these bits of information to develop a better understanding of your temperament and personality.

Get a role model

The chances are that whatever you want to achieve, someone has done before. Find someone who has climbed the same ladder you’re on, learn how they navigated the challenges of managing a team, and adopt some of their methods. They are your role models.

Keep in mind that you don’t necessarily need to have a physically available role model. You can learn from their works (books, articles, pre-recorded seminars, etc.) However, if you find yourself a role model within close physical proximity (maybe a senior manager), then you are lucked out.

Employ appropriate project management tools

Although the relevance of human interaction within a team cannot be overemphasized, any manager’s failure to acknowledge the need for PM tools would be a fatal mistake.

Teams work remotely now. Even when they are within the same workspace, they communicate and share files electronically. Your ability to keep track of tasks, communications, and files can help you stand out as a manager. And the best managers are using project management software to their advantage.

Some of the best-recommended project management tools are intuitive and have a relatively flat learning curve. So, it doesn’t require extensive learning from the manager and the team. Here are a few that we can recommend.

How to answer the ultimate question: “What is your management style?”

When interviewing for a project manager role, you will most likely be asked this tricky question. Interviewers always want to know what sort of manager you are and what you’re capable of. So, to get you talking, they’d pop the question: “what is your management style?”

When asked, you might be eager to give the interviewer a straight response by simply choosing one of the management styles that best suit your personality and the job you’re applying for. That might not be a good-enough answer. Instead, take a chill and try this out.

  1. Define a good management style in your terms. Remember that good management means different things to everyone.
  2. Establish how your qualities align with this said ‘good’ management style.
  3. Share your experiences managing people with the said style.

Final Thoughts

We hear of many companies downsizing and reducing the layers of middle management. When this happens, a lot of managers lose their jobs, especially those that find no reason to change their management styles.

Inasmuch as businesses are embracing software and AI to ease managerial tasks, the human touch is indispensable. However, it has to be a refined and flexible touch. To acquire that managerial refinement and flexibility, you need first to understand your innate management style and figure out how to adjust to changing professional environments to bring the best out of your team.

One of the most effective ways to reduce the drag in adjustment is to make good use of project management tools. Feel free to check out our reviews of the best PM tools in the industry.