Management Styles are the fundamental cornerstones of your management skills. A simple way of looking at it, is to see a management style as a unique collection of management qualities. These qualities combine to produce what I call a ‘flavour of behaviour’. A management style is thus a framework of decision making and action.
Management styles are also known as ‘leadership styles’, indeed they are interchangeable phrases most of the time. I however, prefer to see leadership styles as frameworks for inspiring and leader others, and management styles as frameworks for making operational decisions and controlling resources.
Different Types of Management Styles
There are several types of management styles. These are commonly accepted, and the defintions of which have been developed over many years. The key categories are generally credited to various academics such as Robert Tannenbaum and Warren Schmidt who developed the idea in their book ‘How to Develop a Leadership Pattern’.
The main 5 types of management style are:
There are several other types of management styles, however these tend to overlap with those listed above, and therefore aren’t as useful for comparative purposes.
Autocratic Management Style
The autocratic management style is characterised by a top-down communication model. Information is passed from executives to senior management to employees, because most decision is made at the top. This was the ‘proper’ way to conduct business 100 years ago, but in modern times, most managers have moved away from autocratic management styles and have adopted a more paternistic approach.
Democratic Management Style
Democratic management styles tend to be adopted by many managers working in select industries. Democratic managers are therefore usually found in ‘clusters’ within similar companies. Democratic management is all about full employee consultation and feedback. A democratic manager will have failed if major changes were made concerning the way employees work, without them having considerable say on the matter. Democratic management styles do not ensure employees get whatever they want, but they ensure that managers know exactly what their employees need before making important decisions.
Bureaucratic Management Style
The bureaucratic management style is an unpopular but necessary management style, used in cultures were accountability and transparency is high, and the risks of mal-practice are critical. Bureaucratic management involves designing and maintaining efficient processes and procedures designed to ensure quality output with minimal errors. Bureaucratic organisations that rely upon their decision-making systems are often costly and slower than ones that rely upon judgemental decisions from leaders, but can be more reliable and safeguarded against employee or manager abuse. Govermental organisations prefer bureaucratic management styles for this reason.
Paternalistic Management Style
Students are often taught that the distinguishing feature of paternalistic management styles are that paternalistic managers care about their employees. This is misleading. Other managers do care about their employees, but the paternalistic management style strives to achieve a balance between top-down decision making, and maximising the welfare needs of the employees. Paternalistic managers do therefore make decisions largely on their own, but their internal decision-making process takes in the personal needs of their workers as an important factor, and does not solely concentrate on the bottom line.
Laissez-faire Management Style
The key word describing the laissez-faire management style would be ‘delegation’. Total delegation is at the heart of laissez-faire management. Laissez-faire literally means ‘let do’, and it is based on the truth that many employees feel more motivated and commit more to projects, when they believe that they are in complete control and have responsibility. As an added benefit, the laissez-faire manager also gets a reduced workload! Naturally though, they are rarely free-lunches in business, and so it is likely that laissez-faire managers will be tasked with more subordinates to monitor.
I hope you’ve picked up the basics from this introduction to management styles. Feel free to leave a comment below!