Which Is the Best for You?

Every manager has a unique way of doing their job; some are really assertive, while others have a more laid-back approach.

If you’re a manager, it’s important to know how different management styles compare against each other and which one works best for you. Let’s take a closer look.

What Is a Management Style?

A management style is a manner by which a manager exercises their authority to achieve objectives. It’s the way they delegate tasks, allocate resources, give instructions, and provide motivation. Basically, it’s their demeanor towards their job.

There’s no single ideal way to manage. Different management styles achieve different goals in different industries and in different environments. Depending on the nature of a task, a manager may even use a combination or variations of the following management styles to be more effective.

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1. Autocratic or Authoritative Management Style


Photo of a boss in an office

The autocratic management style is the most oppressive of all management styles. It believes in rigid hierarchies, strict policies, and hard deadlines with little room for leniency or employee feedback. An autocratic manager expects their staff to do as they’re told without question.

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This style follows a top-down approach wherein all the decision-making power is in the hands of the superior and employee participation is not encouraged. It helps execute repetitive tasks and follow rigid schedules. Rigorous compliance tends to be the main focus here.

Due to the nature of this management style, it often ends up creating a very unwelcoming work environment. As a result, employees feel exploited and may form an “us vs. them” mentality against their employers and start conflicts.

Benefits of an Autocratic Management Style

  • Reduced uncertainty.
  • Quick decision-making.
  • Clear job expectations.
  • Stable chain of command.

Drawbacks of Autocratic Management Style

  • Lack of job satisfaction.
  • High dependency on managers.
  • High employee turnover.
  • Organizational inertia.

2. Democratic or Participative Management Style


Leadership teams in workplace environments

In many ways, the democratic management style is the inverse of the autocratic management style. It encourages employee participation in decision-making and believes in diverse viewpoints and ideas.

However, participation is not a strict necessity. The final decision is still in the hands of the manager. Employees can choose to contribute, but managers usually support collaboration and communication. This style is suitable for achieving creative tasks.

Benefits of a Democratic Management Style

  • Increased problem-solving.
  • High employee morale.
  • Fulfillment of social needs.
  • Formulation of new ideas.

Drawbacks of the Democratic Management Style

  • Conflict of interest.
  • Slower decision-making.
  • Unpredictability of staff.
  • Unstable productivity.

Related: How to Ask Your Boss for a Pay Raise

3. Transactional Management Style


An illustration of someone paying money to the beneficiary

Originated during the Industrial Revolution, the transactional management style focuses heavily on the use of positive and negative motivation as a means to increase output. Here, the manager constantly monitors employee performance to judge their caliber.

High-performing employees are rewarded and recognized, while low-performing ones are punished. The organizational hierarchy is well-defined, and job expectations are clearly set. Employees are often provided with higher wages in exchange for greater performance.

Benefits of Transactional Management Style

  • Competitive compensation.
  • Provides an incentive to work harder.
  • Increased productivity.
  • Efficient use of resources.

Drawbacks of Transactional Management Style

  • Little concern for company culture.
  • Rewards don’t motivate everyone.
  • Focus on self-interest and not teamwork.
  • Discourages creativity and initiative.

4. Laissez-Faire or Delegative Management Style


A team working on a project

The term “Laissez-Faire” is French for “allow to do”. This type of management style believes in autonomy and division of power. In it, the manager places a great deal of trust and reliance on their team members and doesn’t impose any strict rules.

It’s a “hands-off” approach to management, wherein the manager overlooks the team and provides guidance when needed. They have little involvement in the project itself or the final output. Basically, the manager acts more as a mentor rather than a supervisor.


Benefits of Laissez-Faire Management Style

  • High employee retention rate.
  • High employee morale and job satisfaction.
  • High creativity and problem-solving.
  • Employee growth and skill-building.

Drawbacks of Laissez-Faire Management Style

  • Too much pressure on employees.
  • Increased risk of mismanagement.
  • Reduced accountability.
  • Unclear job expectations.

Related: Problems You Will Face in Your First Job and How to Solve Them

5. Affiliative Management Style


Situational leadership for effective team engagement

The affiliative management style is the most lenient of all styles on this list, as it seeks to build a harmonious team. An affiliative manager does so via empathic communication, employee appreciation, and conflict resolution. Managing human emotions is the primary concern here.

This type of management style works great to promote positive company culture and focuses on employee well-being. As a result, it works to retain employees and increase loyalty. However, doing so may result in employees not being able to handle workplace situations by themselves.


Benefits of an Affiliative Management Style

  • High employee morale.
  • Low employee turnover.
  • Reduced workplace stress.
  • Effective conflict resolution.

Drawbacks of Affiliative Management Style

  • Complacency.
  • Emotional dependency on managers.
  • Risk of underperformance.
  • Avoidance of criticism.

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6. Bureaucratic Management Style


Person holding magnifying glass

In the bureaucratic management style, the manager puts a great deal of focus on getting things done using standardized codes. Doing so is important in industries that have to comply with strict government regulations.

This style helps adhere to guidelines and policies such that there are minimum chances of faulty operation. However, the staff required for such an operation needs to be highly skilled, well-educated, and conscientious.


Benefits of Bureaucratic Management Style

  • Clear job expectations.
  • Increased quality control.
  • Predictable output.
  • Eliminates favoritism.

Drawbacks of Bureaucratic Management Style

  • Decreased efficiency.
  • Resistance to change.
  • Time-consuming.
  • Discourages competition.

Related: Free Project Plan Templates to Simplify Complex Tasks

Which Management Style Is the Best for You?

Your management style depends largely on three things: your personality, your goal, and your team’s competence. For instance, the autocratic or transactional management style is suitable when your team is unskilled or semi-skilled and the goal is to increase output.

But if you run a marketing agency, you might be more drawn towards the democratic or Laissez-Faire style of management. They are more suitable for managing a skilled staff and for achieving creative projects. Regardless of the goal, it’s wise to explore which style will bring you the best results.



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