7 Different Management Styles To Use At Work

7 Different Management Styles To Use At Work

You may run a business, a team, have one or two reports – or perhaps none – regardless, if you recognise the importance of good management skills when it comes to creating a happy and healthy working environment, this one’s for you. There are seven widely-accepted different styles to use, with pros and cons to each, so it’s up to you to decide which one you fit into and which might work best for those you wish to inspire…
Photography: ISTOCK/SEB_RA


Who they are: Autocratic managers are people who make decisions on their own, and usually with very little input from other members of the team – if you’re honest, it might be the most common kind of boss you have encountered, or have modelled yourself on. “Autocratic managers don’t ask your opinion, they tell you it,” agree the experts at recruitment site Reed. “If they were a country, they’d probably be nearer to North Korea than Nepal.”

Advantages: This style of management is good for employees who work well with a clear sense of direction, or when a decision needs to be made quickly. “It can be extremely effective when implemented by a natural leader,” adds the Reed team.

Disadvantages: The downsides of this type of management largely depends on who’s in charge, explain the team at Reed. “It can be demoralising, discourage open communication and stifle creativity,” they warn. “Modern workers tend not to react well to autocratic leaders.”

How to implement it: Employees will learn to rarely challenge an autocratic manager directly, but if anyone of your reports has got an issue, it’s worth hearing them out, suggest the experts. “That doesn’t mean saying ‘yes’ to everything – it just means thinking of a more creative way to say no (usually by emphasising what’s in it for them if they take your advice),” explains the Reed team.


Who they are: The absolute reverse of autocratic leaders, these kinds of bosses actually want to know your thoughts. “Everyone has the opportunity to contribute ideas, and any decisions are agreed upon by the majority,” explains the Reed team. “They’re like the cool hippy dad of management.”

Advantages: Usually, this style of management is said to encourage more creativity, communication and collaboration. “It gives a sense of autonomy to employees, and often leads to greater job satisfaction,” agrees the Reed team.

Disadvantages: If swift decision-making is a must in your workplace, then be warned that managing employees this way can sometimes leads to uncertainty. “As there is no clear leader, the team can end up with too many opinions,” explains the Reed team.

How to implement it: Admittedly, the Reed team says this style hinges on your employees or reports being as open as possible. Make sure they know you’re not just being polite in asking for their opinions – even if their ideas aren’t fully formed, someone else in the team might be able to build on them, so make it clear they should never be afraid to speak up.


Who they are: Laissez-Faire literally translates as ‘let them do’ and, essentially, that’s what these kinds of managers do and how they operate. “Practically the definition of hands-off, these managers prefer to wait and see what happens than make actual decisions,” explains the Reed team.

Advantages: You’ll find this management style is effective when working with especially skilled individuals, who might work better under their own direction, advises the Reed team. “It’s great when the staff have certain expertise that their manager doesn’t, and it also leads to a better sense of autonomy.”

Disadvantages: The downside is, however, that projects can lose their sense of direction. “It also doesn’t work well for staff who may require more guidance, or need help to complete tasks and meet deadlines,” warns the Reed team.

How to implement it: To use this management style effectively, it’s imperative to trust those who work for you, and be confident in their abilities. A laissez-faire manager will just want employees to get on with the job, so make it clear to reports that this is how the team works.


Who they are: Think of transactional managers like the game show hosts of management, advises the Reed team. “Sure, they’ll offer you a treat for doing your job, but get the answer wrong, and your punishment will inevitably follow,” they warn. Transactional managers will usually make it clear they’ve got a reward at the ready, but only for those who really deserve it.

Advantages: This can be a powerful motivator – especially if employees are goal-orientated, admits the Reed team. “Clear and easy to follow, managing a team this way means staff are always aware of the benefits of doing a good job.”

Disadvantages: Just be wary of setting goals that are too high or unrealistic, as this can lead to greater pressure, demotivation and a bad working environment, warns the Reed team. “It can also be detrimental to the team dynamic, as everyone is looking out for their own interests,” they add. 

How to implement it: Transactional management is really a simple formula: your employees complete their work, receive a reward and you say thank you. Just be realistic when it comes to goal setting: if an employee complains they’re too high, try and sit down with them to talk it through.


Who they are: Often considered the most inspiring type of manager, transformational managers identify the need for change, explains the team from fellow recruitment site Indeed. “They work on a variety of different levels at one time, tricking people into believing they’re having a good time instead of working and pulling incentives and new opportunities out at every turn.”

Advantages: Transformational management is one way to provide positive reinforcement and encourage personal growth at work, offers the Indeed team. “It works especially well in companies with low morale and can help create the vision that inspires change,” they add.

Disadvantages: Just be warned that some transformational managers can sometimes be accused of being blinded by passion and instinct, rather than having ideas rooted in reality. “It’s also possible to over-reward people based on charisma, rather than hard work,” warn the Indeed experts.

How to implement it: As transformational managers, you want your employees to succeed – but it’s also about collaboration. Let your direct reports know they won’t go wrong if they listen to your advice, input your ideas and work towards a shared vision.


Who they are: Consultative managers usually ask the team for their advice and regularly consult them on decisions, explains the Indeed team. “This way, team members have the opportunity to give feedback and let their manager know what is or isn't working,” they add. “While the manager usually makes the ultimate decision, they also provide direction to organise the team to achieve its goal."

Advantages: A consultative management style often helps to motivate employees and give them a larger sense of responsibility. “For example, a manager might hold a meeting at the start of each week to ask for critical or personal feedback on an ongoing project,” adds the Indeed team.

Disadvantages: “This style is best used in situations where time is less of an issue and camaraderie and team satisfaction is more important,” advises the Indeed team. It’s important to look around and consider the needs of your workplace – specifically any deadlines – before implementing this kind of management style.

How to implement it: While asking the opinions of your employees should always be considered valuable, this kind of management style won’t work if you aren’t decisive yourself. Think about whether you have the skills to take on board multiple opinions before reaching the best solution that works for everyone.


Who they are: A persuasive manager makes every decision while providing team members with the reasoning behind every decision that's made, explains the Indeed pros. “These managers see that work gets done quickly and efficiently when needed, set specific goals and targets and create a plan to organise a team toward those goals.” Just be aware that a persuasive manager keeps team members aware of why a decision has been made to keep everyone informed, every step of the way – not just at the end of a project or task.

Advantages: Experts agree that the result of a persuasive management style is often a softer style than an autocratic one, but it’s still an efficient way to get things done. Done well, employees should feel neither ignored nor micro-managed every minute of the day.

Disadvantages: Without building a good relationship with your team first, this management style has little to no chance of success. Bear in mind that in order to effectively implement it, you need to be knowledgeable, trustworthy, compelling, and passionate – you need to get people to believe in your ideas, while still being able to accept the blame when something doesn’t work out.

How to implement it: It’s best to think about using persuasive management when big changes are made and new policies or procedures need to be adhered to immediately, advises the Indeed team. This might be in a post-merger situation, or simply when there’s been an office move or disruptive event like the pandemic. It might be a temporary style you adopt to see you through the transitional stage only, too.

For further information on management styles or general career advice, visit Reed.co.uk or Indeed.co.uk for more.

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