• Company culture

The pros and cons of 7 different management styles

Jazmin Lopez

No two managers are alike. The truth is, every person has a different management style. One manager might find success with a no-nonsense, my-way-or-the-highway approach, while another finds success through collaboration and team input.

Because there are so many different management styles, it's important to know which one you fall into as a leader. Using the wrong management style can lead to a lack of motivation, a decrease in productivity, and turmoil among workers to name just a few issues. Good management, however, comes with some amazing benefits.

We've explored the pros and cons of the 7 most effective management styles to help you find your ideal match. So, let's get into it.

The dangers of the wrong management style

According to Gallup, organizations choose the wrong manager 82% of the time.

That might come as a shock to some. But what if the problem isn't the manager, but the management styles? Could a simple shake-up of the manager's style help lower this statistic?

Choosing a manager with the wrong style leads to a lot of workplace issues. The worst of these is an unengaged, unresponsive team. Under the wrong management, you'll notice a decrease in productivity, the quality of work, and increased turnaround time.

Bad management style can even lead to deeper issues like absenteeism, loss in profits, and workplace theft. The problems will only continue to stack as long as the manager keeps performing in the same, ineffective way.

You don't want to be a part of that 82% of wrong managers, and you don't have to be.

Understanding management styles


There are seven generally accepted management styles used in management.

Not every style works with every manager, or even every team. As a manager, it's your job to find the one that works for your given team and perfect it.

So, let's look at the pros and cons of each management style to give you a better idea of each.

1. Visionary management style

The main focus of a visionary manager is towards the overall vision of the company and project. 

A visionary manager wants to motivate and align the team. They want the team to know the goal, feel the same desire for it, and essentially be on the same page. What's more, the manager often wants to rouse enthusiasm from the team.

If you're a charismatic, extroverted person who can see the whole picture, this might be the management style for you.

Pros:  

Visionary managers can get all their employees on the same page, increasing teamwork, managing productivity, and ensuring the overall quality of the product. Less time is wasted asking questions, as everyone knows exactly what they're meant to do. A lot less direct management and supervision are necessary.

Cons: 

Less focus on the details of the project and supervision can lead to inconsistencies in production quality, especially for new employees. It can be hard to pull off the visionary style and exuberance and keep it up every day.

2. Democratic

Someone using the democratic management style treats their team like, well, a democracy.

This leadership style runs on collaboration and participation. The manager takes the input of everyone on the team and weighs that in their decisions. The manager may even implement fair voting to help influence decisions.

The manager is still the leader here, and still makes the ultimate choices, but considers all angles impartially. 

Pros: 

Employees love how this style encourages creativity. They feel heard, and like they really matter on the team, as their ideas are being utilized. The quality of the product is likely to be high as the employees genuinely care about it.

Cons: 

The democratic management style takes time. You have to take time to get input, consider it all, and work it into a plan. Sometimes decisions need to be made fast, and the democratic spirit suffers if you don't consider input.

Inequality problems arise if it appears you favour one person's input over another's. If someone's ideas are constantly swept aside, they'll grow frustrated with the team. This makes the democratic management style potentially hard to navigate.

3. Transformational

Someone using the transformational leader management style puts inspiration and innovation front and centre.

The transformational leader spots weaknesses in individual team members and finds ways to improve them. They spend time empowering the workers and positively amping them up. They're open to feedback, creativity, and innovative thinking as long as it works toward the goal.

Pros: 

Employee-manager trust reaches an all-time high, as the workers learn to see you as a source of inspiration. Creativity and freedom increases happiness, and therefore productivity. Everyone is more motivated to work hard thanks to your leadership.

Cons:

Some people react adversely to inspirational figures, seeing it as "fake" if not done right. The transformational style shakes up the typical work process, which some people won't like. This may alienate more experienced employees who are adjusted to certain ways of working.

The transformational management style can also slow things down, as it requires a level of individual focus and the consideration of input.

 4. Coaching

Under the coaching, or "mentoring" management style, you act as a coach to your team.

You put the brunt of your focus on improving the skills of your team and supporting them. You're there for one-on-one time whenever it's needed. You're constantly on the floor watching over the team, ensuring they're doing the best they can and encouraging them to do so.

Pros: 

You'll see your team grow and improve before your eyes, leading to a more highly skilled group. Your team will trust you, and feel they can go to you with anything. High-quality products often come from this style.

Cons:

Some employees are unreachable, and you need to know when coaching won't work for them or you're wasting your time. The style slows things down in general because of how individual-focused it is. You're going to be very busy with this style, as it requires a lot of supervision and training.

You also need to posture yourself as a pro-of-pros and know about everything going on with the group. This can be very difficult to achieve

5. Autocratic

An autocratic management style is decidedly authoritarian.

The manager runs everything. They make the choices, direct the team where to go and how to work, and don't take input. Workers can approach you for help or clarification, but they shouldn't expect their opinions to affect the work process much.

Pros:

With well-defined goals and pathways, the team knows exactly what to do and how under this management style. This leads to greater productivity, a higher-quality product, and less wasted time. The team knows exactly who to go to for clarification, and see you as a leader -- they have respect for you and see you as a boss rather than a friend.

Cons:

More creative employees feel stifled, making them discontent, which could lead to absenteeism or lower productivity. If not done carefully, the team may think of you as a dictator, feeling them unable to work in ways that best suit them. Can be time-consuming keeping tabs on everyone and making sure they're following your exact directions.

This style may even lead to the common issue of presenteeism as employees feel they need to be at work.

6. Transactional

A transactional manager implements "rewards and punishments" into their management style as a motivating factor.

This may be through physical means like incentives and competitive employee benefits, or simple encouragements and warnings as needed. They offer the team benefits for jobs well done.

Pros: 

This works well for gruelling, tedious work that nobody wants to do. An incentive can be enough to make the work worth it. Works great for short-period work, and also leaves employees feeling prouder of their accomplishments as they have something to show for it.

Cons:

Team members who never get the incentive feel left out and discontent, leading to lacking motivation and productivity. Creativity is stifled as you're asked to do something specific for the reward. Potentially expensive.

7. Laissez-faire

The laissez-faire management style is all about sitting back and letting the team handle it.

You get to be a hands-off manager, allowing the team to lead themselves. Creativity is encouraged, and supervision is kept at the minimum. Employees only come to you if they need something.

You give your team a little guidance at the start, tell them what you expect, and let them go wild.

Pros:

Employees feel great satisfaction as they can create and find solutions to problems their own way. Innovation is boosted, and the team learns how to work better together. There's a potential for a higher quality product, and a faster turnaround time.

Cons:

This style can go to chaos if there's any confusion or miscommunication. Not every employee is necessarily working to their strengths, which can lead to inconsistencies in the final product. With little supervision, the team could be doing something wrong for weeks without realizing it, leading to missed deadlines.

How to choose the right management style for you

It takes time and experimentation to find your management style. It also takes a knowledge of your own skills and personality.

If you're outgoing and charismatic, you might like the transformational or coaching style. If you're more extroverted and open to creativity, you might like the laissez-faire or democratic style. If you're more of a "my-way" kind of person, maybe transactional or autocratic will work best.

Determine who you are and what might work for you and try a matching management style as you lead in the future. If one management style doesn't work, take time to read the room and the employees and transition to another leadership style. You can even take skills that work from one style and combine those with skills from another to craft your own style.

You'll only find the right style by reading the culture of the team, their individual skills, and seeing how they react to certain things. Eventually, you'll find the perfect management style for you.

Paving the way to managerial success with the right management style

Now that you know the pros and cons of all the different management styles, you're ready to find the one that fits you. Familiarize yourself with them, implement changes, and don't be afraid to grow your style. Soon, you'll be the best manager your team has ever seen.

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