October 9, 2019

Management Styles

Read more about Business

Your management style will affect how your employees respond to you as a leader. Here are the 6 basic management styles defined and their pros and cons.

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Here are the 6 basic management styles from most controlling to least controlling:

  • Directive: Maintains full control; micromanagement
  • Authoritarian: Sets clear vision for the company and employees
  • Pacesetting: Sets the pace and expects high standards
  • Coaching: Focuses on long term development of employees
  • Participative: Encourages democracy and employee input
  • Affiliative: Focuses on employee satisfaction over work

Good management is crucial to the success of a business. Effective managers not only organize and delegate tasks, they also play an important role in inspiring and engaging the team.

Employees respond greatly to how they're treated. Your management style could impact your team's quality of work, productivity, morale, and retention rate.

We'll go over the 6 classic management styles below. There is no perfect style for everyone. In fact, effective leaders are able to shift between different management styles when the situation calls for it.

Picking a manager is essential to a company's success. But Gallup research suggests the wrong manager is chosen more than 80% of the time.

Leadership Vs. Management

People often confuse the terms "management" and "leadership." But they aren't the same thing.

  • Leadership
    A leader will organize people and understand a vision. The leader will help people feel inspired and work toward their goals.

  • Management
    A manager will assign tasks and make sure employees stay on track, day-to-day. He/she may also take on a leadership role.

Any management style can be effective. But that doesn't mean every management style is healthy or beneficial for everyone. The right style depends on your company, your employees and yourself.

Consider these factors:

  • Matching existing management styles
  • Company culture
  • Employee skill level
  • Existing projects and timelines


© CreditDonkey

Keep reading for a closer look at the most popular management styles—and the pros and cons of each.


The Directive Management Style involves top-down decision-making. Once a decision is made, the staff is expected to fall in line.

Many people may also know this management style as micromanaging. It can also be called coercive, or authoritative.


  • The manager has full control of the decision-making process.

  • The manager always knows the progress of each project.

  • There is more order to the way things are carried out.


  • Employees have little to no freedom to do their job.

  • This style does not promote learning or growth for the employee—they are simply carrying out orders.

  • Some managers may find this style exhausting.

  • Employees may become unenthusiastic about their work over time.

Is It Right for You?
Using a Directive management style can help businesses through a period of crisis. For example, if a company is facing a possible takeover, managers may use this style to get the job done. For day-to-day tasks, however, this style should be avoided.

Highly skilled employees or new employees may suffer under such close, directive management. New employees may not be allowed to grow and develop, and skilled employees may become resentful.


An authoritarian management style fits the traditional boss vs. employee relationship.

A manager using an authoritarian management style will outline what needs to be done and direct action. Managers with this style have a tendency to be frank and candid.


  • The manager will set a clear vision for your company and then steps back.

  • Under this style, employees have a sense of freedom as long as they achieve the vision.

  • The manager will take a strict but fair stance.

  • Managers will give employees constant feedback, so the employee understands their place.


  • It is not as hands-on as some other styles. As such, employees may feel that their manager does not care about them.

  • Managers generally do not ask for input, which may lead to lower morale.

  • Good ideas may get left behind in favor of the manager's perspective.

Is It Right for You?
The authoritarian management style works best for leaders who direct and instruct their employees on a day-to-day basis. This management style also works best for leaders with credibility and respect.

CEOs or business owners may want to implement this style when they step into a role. Business leaders will want to set expectations on how everything should be done, from communication protocol to human resources procedures.

The authoritarian management style is popular for many business leaders, especially with emerging companies and small companies.

However, once the business grows and expands, it may be a good idea to consider other options for management styles.


The name is self-explanatory: this type of manager sets the pace for employees. In most situations, that pace is fast.

The manager using this style will often accomplish tasks as a way to show employees the way the manager wants it done. They will then expect employees to take over.

Managers will set high standards of excellence. In many cases, if employees struggle to meet these goals, they are reassigned to something else.


  • Employees have a greater degree of freedom under this style and can put their skills to good use.

  • Because employees have a target goal, competitive employees may be highly motivated to achieve the goal and beat others.

  • Employees may feel willing to challenge themselves because if they do not rise to the occasion, their task will be reassigned.


  • Managers may set standards that are too high for many employees to meet.

  • Employees may feel the goal is so insurmountable that they give up before starting.

  • Employees who do not have the right amount of skill or the right level of competence may face too much pressure.

  • The fast pace of this management style may exhaust your employees over time and burn them out. The manager may feel the burnout, too.

  • The manager may be seen as the enemy asking for too much from the employees.

Is It Right for You?
Because of the independence required, this management style works best when all involved are experts in their field. This style will also work when the employees are highly motivated, since they'll be able to keep up.

However, this approach will not work if the workload is too heavy. Employees may need to coordinate and collaborate, which does not fit into the management style.

The pacesetting style will not work if the employees need too much training or development, since the management style relies on independence.


The coaching management style involves mentoring employees. The manager focuses on the long-term development of the staff. This style is also known as developmental management.

Under this style, the manager's motivation is their employee's professional growth and development. They should be willing to assist employees and strengthen their weaknesses.


  • The manager and employee will develop a strong bond.

  • Employees will be more motivated to develop their professional skills.

  • Employees will feel proud of what they have accomplished.


  • This management style works best when the manager is an expert in their field. Otherwise, they will not be seen as a mentor to subordinates.

  • Employees may feel competitive, vying for attention from the manager or achieving certain goals, in an unhealthy way.

Is It Right for You?
This style works best when employees are in need of coaching and guidance. Employees will respond best when they are motivated to improve their performance.

But managers should stay away from this style if they lack the proper expertise. In addition, managers should avoid this style if the business is not in a stable condition. Growth opportunities work best in stable settings.


The participative management style focuses on building consensus and commitment among employees. It's also known as the democratic style of management.

Participative managers should listen to everyone on the team. They must also encourage employees to get involved in the decision-making process and in management decisions, sometimes by holding a vote to determine next steps.


  • Managers can build and maintain relationships with their employees.

  • Employees will work together and may develop better cooperation in the workplace as a result.

  • Managers may see higher morale: employees will feel more important.

  • Managers will feel less pressure on themselves because the decision-making is split among people.


  • Progress can be slow because the workload is divided.

  • The manager may not be making all the decisions themselves, but they still have to keep a close eye on their team and the projects at hand.

Is It Right for You?
This management style works best when managers are looking to brainstorm upcoming projects. It works especially well if the workplace is not volatile. That way, the manager has the necessary time to implement his/her style.

At its very best, the participative management style works when all members on the team can be considered experts or highly skilled in their fields. Otherwise, employees will require too much supervision for this approach to be successful.


The affiliative style focuses on putting people above company goals. It aims to create a smooth relationship among the manager and employees and among the employees themselves.

An affiliative manager should encourage positive professional and personal relationship among everyone on the team.


  • The employees will be happy and satisfied.

  • The work environment should be low pressure as a result of this management style.

  • This management style can be used alongside other methods.

  • An affiliative management style can help resolve conflict and tension in the workplace.


  • Because performance is not the focus of this management style, employees may not perform or stay motivated.

  • Employees may be complacent about the quantity of work they produce.

  • The affiliative style takes more time to develop and grow since it is based on building relationships.

  • Employees driven by results may feel discouraged.

Is It Right for You?
This style works best for companies without a strong bond. It can boost teams that may be divided or disjointed. But be sure to use affiliative management in combination with other styles, since it has such a strong focus on relationships over results.

You may want to avoid using the affiliative management style in a business that is focused on output. Used on its own, it can hinder growth.


There is no one management style that works best for everyone or every company.

Different situations call for different types of leadership. That means the best management style is a style that is flexible and adaptive to the circumstances.

Consider these factors when you look for your management style:

  • The type of business
  • The type of work that will be completed in the future
  • Your personality
  • The personalities of the staff you're managing

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