Management Tips··21 min read

4 Types of Management Style for Effective Leadership

4 Types of Management Style for Effective Leadership

Business leaders have a significant impact on the success of their teams. When a strong leader is in place, they will inspire their team, create high levels of loyalty, and ensure that the job gets done. When a poor leader is heading up the team, it's likely that you'll see disengaged employees with high levels of turnover and low levels of productivity.

But just what are the factors of an effective management style, and does it depend on the company culture and sector? Well, there are certain variables at play, and what works in one situation may have disastrous results in a different environment. As a starting point, though, understanding your leadership style and appreciating both its strengths and weaknesses will provide you the opportunity to evaluate its effectiveness within your business setting.

Key Takeaways

  • It is crucial for effective leadership to recognize and adapt one's management style based on team needs, company culture, and specific situations.
  • There are four primary management styles—Autocratic, Democratic, Laissez-faire, and Persuasive—each with specific advantages and disadvantages in various business scenarios.
  • Inappropriate management styles can lead to disengagement, low productivity, and high turnover, which harm both employee morale and organizational success.
  • Modern management recognizes the benefits of collaborative and coaching styles over traditional authoritarian models, advocating for a more inclusive approach to leadership.
  • Unrubble offers tools that align with contemporary management needs, such as data-driven decision-making and streamlined communication, to enhance leadership effectiveness and adaptability in various managerial styles.

What Is a Management Style?

A management or leadership style is how a manager exercises their authority to ensure that objectives are achieved. So, that means it includes how a manager plans and organizes the workload within their area of responsibility and how they communicate with and manage their team. But it's not just about what they do because key components to a management style also come from the attitude and behavior they adopt.

Historically, a management style was all about how a manager wielded their authority to get work completed. There was also the perception that there was one key management method, which would lead to the best results, no matter the task or work environment. 'Command and Control' was then seen as the most effective way to manage a group of employees, with a definite emphasis on the 'stick' rather than the 'carrot.'

Thankfully, the tide has turned, and it's generally recognized that a more collaborative and coaching style of management will achieve better overall results for the business. It's also well known that no one management style is suited for all situations. Instead, the manager needs to find an approach that is authentic to them but which they will also need to adjust according to the organization's culture, the type of tasks to be completed, and the expectations of the team members.

It's not unusual to now see the term Leadership Style rather than Management Style. Perhaps this pushes the collaborative team approach required by a company instead of the micromanagement of individuals who needed to be controlled.

The Wrong Management Style Hurts Everyone

Now let's be clear here, when we're talking about the wrong types of management styles, we're not referring to managers who are vindictive or just downright mean. Instead, we simply mean that the wrong approach was taken when leading that particular group of people or in that specific situation.

Many employees are promoted to a managerial role because of their technical knowledge and experience and not because of their leadership skills. Suddenly they're expected to manage a team, conduct appraisals, and handle challenging situations, none of which their previous expertise has prepared them for.

This, in turn, then creates a no-win situation for everyone. You're unlikely to keep people in the organization if they feel that their manager isn't up to the job. The organization then suffers the cost through the loss of experience and then the recruitment and training of new employees. And it doesn't take long for word to get out within the sector about managers and companies to avoid.

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Then there's the impact on the manager. No one wants a hard time at work or a team that doesn't support them or achieves their potential. The outcome for all involved is looking bleak unless the manager can recognize the issues that their management style is creating.

Now, after that slight doom and gloom assessment, it's also important to realize that the situation is entirely salvageable. Management styles are not set in stone, and more often than not, it comes down to a lack of training and self-awareness, both of which can be turned around, given time.

What are the Different Styles of Management?

A quick search on Google is going to show you that there are dozens of theories relating to management styles. A booming industry in itself, there are endless organizations that will assess and report on your management style according to the latest 'buzz' definition. For starters, there is transactional, transformational, and authentic leadership, and we shouldn't forget inspirational and intellectual.

However, before we get carried away, there are similarities in many of these, and most revolve around four key management styles which were largely defined by psychologist Kurt Lewin back in 1939.

1. Autocratic (Coercive Management Style)

Autocratic managers take complete control of the situation. They believe that they are the best person to take responsibility for all decision making and are unlikely to ask the team for their input; this is a one-way management style. The autocratic management style results in a very structured company environment with little opportunity for creativity or innovative thinking.

  • There are advantages to this style, managers can make decisions very quickly, and there is a very clear structure for the team members if they have questions or need to raise an issue.
  • An employee who is new to their role can find reassurance in the autocratic manager's structure and direction.
  • It could also create less pressure for team members than other management styles, which comes down to each individual being able to focus on their work tasks.
  • As the one person who makes decisions, the autocratic manager frees others from becoming involved in what can be endless meetings and lengthy discussions.
  • The limitations on contributions from their team can mean that they fail to feel valued, which in turn leads to a negative impact on employee engagement.
  • It's also highly likely that skilled individuals within the team could be instrumental in assisting with making important decisions and presenting their ideas. Yet, the autocratic management style may result in a reluctance to ask for their input, which can, in turn, be detrimental to the overall success of the completion of the work.
  • When you ask people how they describe being under autocratic management, they're likely to use terms such as controlling, bossy, and dictatorial. And while it's not necessary for everyone to like their manager, they still need to work for them.
2. Democratic (Participative Management Style)

The democratic management style encourages a more collaborative way of working. Guidance is provided, but group members are encouraged to contribute their thoughts and ideas to the decision-making process. This is a consultative management approach, which is generally considered one of the most effective management styles.

  • It encourages creativity and involvement in decision-making processes.
  • This involvement then tends to result in a team committed to achieving results, leading to higher productivity levels.
  • Democracy motivates employees who find that a consultative management style involves them in making decisions
  • With an inexperienced group of employees, the democratic management style can lead to poor decisions and communication failures.
  • Some of the team members may not yet have the knowledge to contribute to the decision-making processes and, in turn, can feel excluded from the process.
  • Team members who are less confident expressing their opinions may find themselves sidelined by other more vocal individuals.
3. Laissez-faire (Delegative Management Style)

A French term, which means to 'leave alone,' presents a style that is at the complete opposite end of the spectrum to that of the autocratic manager. Because that 'leave it alone' is precisely what the laissez-faire management style is all about.

This is a hands-off approach that provides everyone with the complete freedom to decide how to meet their objectives without seeking agreement from managers. As a result, it requires the manager to have a great deal of trust in their staff. It also requires them to have the confidence in their team that they have the skills and knowledge to make the decisions and follow through to get the work done.

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It is questionable though, whether the laissez-faire management style involves any management of the team! Could it just be the manager neglecting some of their responsibilities? And who takes the blame if a decision made proves to be the wrong one?

This does have a reputation as the least productive of the three management styles; however, many multi-national organizations utilize the laissez-faire management style to encourage creativity and innovation. For example, Google introduced "20 percent time" to allow their employees time to focus on whatever project they wanted, free of management oversight.

  • With the manager being handed off it provides excellent opportunities for personal growth for each individual.
  • Having the freedom to make decisions means that creativity and innovation are encouraged.
  • Decision making can be incredibly fast. With no management interfering, the team can make quick decisions without waiting for approval from the chain of command.
  • Without a guiding force, employees can feel that they have received little guidance on work expectations. They may be unsure as to what Is required of them and what they should be doing with their time.
  • Laissez-faire managers can be seen as uninvolved and potentially uninterested in their team. This can then lead to poor teamwork with no-one present to pick up on issues and provide direction.
  • Some leaders adopt this management style to avoid responsibility for any failures of their team. When objectives are not achieved, the Laissez-faire manager can blame everyone else for poor decision making and implementation of plans.
  • At its worst, this management style allows a manager to avoid having to manage at all. They avoid all involvement with the group and do little to motivate or recognize the achievements of individuals.
4. Persuasive (Charismatic Management Style)

In this style, managers make the final decision but then use their persuasion skills to convince their team that the correct outcome has been achieved.

A persuasive management style can explain the logic behind the decision and then encourages everyone to ask questions to understand the rationale. This in turn means that employees feel as though they are a trusted and valued part of the organization. They become involved in key business decisions which then leads to lower levels of resentment and tension between management and staff.


High level of trust between managers and employees, resulting in acceptance of top-down decision making.

Employees will respond to reason and logic in a more positive way and will feel less threatened than when being dictated to.


Employees may become frustrated that they cannot give feedback in a way that influences decision making.

Loss of creative solutions from the team can create silo decision making from the manager.

While there are advantages and disadvantages to each one of the four approaches, it would seem that the democratic management style offers the strongest benefits to the manager and the team. However, that doesn't mean to say that it's always going to be the best strategy. There are times and situations when different management styles would be preferable. This is the sign of an effective manager; that they can recognize the most suitable management style for that particular team in that specific moment.

What are the 6 Management Styles?

In 2000, Daniel Goleman published an article in the Harvard Business Review on his research into leadership styles. From reviewing the management approaches of over 3,000 executives worldwide, he identified six distinct leadership styles. Two of the six are either the same or very similar to those already discussed, so that's the democratic and coercive management styles.

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The remaining four are:

1. The Affiliative Management Style

The affiliative leader promotes harmony and conflict resolution among their team. They aim to create groups that work well together and, as a result, meet the organization's objectives. Affiliative leaders are essential when an organization is going through a period of change such as redundancy exercises or business buy-outs. It can also be a hugely beneficial approach to take when working with a new team as the affiliative leadership style creates trust and a sense of belonging.

  • Conflict within the team is quickly resolved; the affiliative manager is excellent at problem-solving. This can then mean lower attrition levels and a team that spends less time arguing and more time being productive.
  • Employees have a strong sense of their manager having a personal interest in their wellbeing. This, in turn, develops loyalty and high levels of employee engagement.
  • Reduction in stress within the workplace has to be a good result for everyone!
  • Underperformance can be neglected in an attempt to maintain a positive working environment.
  • Employees depend on the manager for setting the tone of the team rather than developing their levels of emotional intelligence.
  • The emphasis on harmony within the team can mean that sight of long-term business goals is lost.
2. Pacesetting Management Style

The pacesetting management style is when the manager achieves very high performance, pace, and quality and expects his team to do exactly the same. Results are everything in this team, and the manager's high level of motivation can be contagious.

  • Strong focus on always achieving business goals. For short-term and time-sensitive objectives, the pacesetting management style is highly successful.
  • Highly-skilled and experienced teams flourish under the pacesetter. They already have the competencies to achieve excellent results; now, the manager is also providing the impetuous to achieve their completion.
  • The pacesetter doesn't hesitate to resolve issues because if they're not addressed, they will impact success. Anything which has a negative impact on achieving the goal will be swiftly dealt with.
  • When a team isn't highly skilled, the pressure to succeed can be overwhelming, resulting in a team that can feel completely overwhelmed.
  • With this intense focus on results, work can quickly become very repetitive and boring. There's no time for being creative and innovative when deadlines are looming.
  • Team relationships and morale can also fall by the wayside when there are targets to be met. The pacesetter may also see these as interfering with getting work completed.
3. The Coaching Management Style

The coaching style of management is focused on the development of each individual within the team. This is a long-term strategy that acknowledges that quality and productivity may drop as skills and knowledge accumulated in the short-term.

  • Employees are generally very motivated to work with a boss who adopts the coaching management style. When individuals are helped to improve their skills, they become highly motivated, resulting in lower levels of employee turnover.
  • Clear expectations are communicated with goals and objectives having complete clarity.
  • Skills and knowledge levels within the organization are high, meaning that it becomes more competitive. This also means that individuals are constantly developed for promotion, meaning that skills stay within the business.
  • Coaching requires both time and patience. It's highly unlikely that a manager who has their own workload to complete will have the opportunity to take on this management style on a full-time basis.
  • Coaching requires skill and experience. Not everyone is cut out to be a coach, and this without this aptitude can quickly have the opposite effect, causing low levels of motivation and performance.
  • Coaching needs the employee to want to be coached. Not everyone wants to be developed.
4. The Visionary Management Style

This is a manager who will be well known for their creative ideas and solutions. They tend to have high levels of self-confidence yet still be empathetic to others. These leaders can see the bigger picture, and they communicate this with their team, who can then see how they fit into the business goals and objectives.

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  • Everyone clearly understands the goal they are working towards, with the manager providing the energy to get them there.
  • This style of manager tends to be proactive and can usually spot challenges before they happen.
  • A high value is placed on acknowledging individual achievements and ensuring employees feel valued.
  • When so much emphasis is placed on the future, the day to day operation can suffer from neglect.
  • This management style can result in a single-mindedness to their perception of the future, even when there may be other ideas and perspectives to be examined.Momentum can be lost once the initial excitement about the project has subsided.

Leadership Style Assessment

So how do you now work out which is your current type of management style? Well, there are dozens of assessment tools, each one associated with a particular theory of management styles. While each one will have slight variations in the names used for the style and their descriptor, they are usually based on the six styles we're already discussed within this article.

An important consideration is that your type of management style will change according to the business environment that you find yourself in, and that too can change depending on the phase that the business is in. For example, an organization that must meet objectives to survive will need you to adopt an authoritarian style while developing a new team that may need a strong emphasis on coaching.

All assessments of this nature can be influenced by your mood and the events of that day. Just come out of a planning meeting? Then, your traits relating to vision can surface. So, it is recommended to take leadership assessments at least twice and ideally two different tools to balance these influencers.

Which is Right for You?

While you may feel like you need a defined management style, it's essential to know that most managers have elements of a wide range of different approaches that they used when leading their teams. That means that you need the flexibility to identify the most effective style required for that particular instance or for that specific employee.

Different types of management styles are needed within a company, depending on whether the emphasis is on problem-solving, innovation, decision-making, or a persuasive feedback session to motivate and encourage employees.

While there is an argument that the best style is the one which feels authentic, you should be aware that it may not be the one which your company needs right now.

How to Improve Your Management Style

We have identified three key ways in which you can develop your management style:

1. Develop Your Self-Awareness

When you become aware of how you tend to respond and react, you can select the most effective way of responding to a situation rather than letting a knee jerk reaction be your default response. Self-awareness is key to developing your management style as, without it, you won't be able to formulate a base point from which to move forward.

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One of the best ways of doing this is to ask for feedback from both employees and other managers. Ask staff from other teams how you can develop relationships and lead your team more effectively. Do remember, though, that you've asked for the information, so don't get all defensive!

2. Get a Mentor or Coach

Whose management style do you admire? Could they take on the role of mentor or coach and share their experiences? Ideally, this would be someone from outside of your own organization. This means that they're not in a position of seniority, and you, in turn, can be completely honest without fear of repercussions.

3. Ask for Ideas

Your own team will know what works well and what can be improved. The chances are that they will have a whole range of ideas on what works and what doesn’t and usually also have some good ideas on how to improve the team's effectiveness. Trying out suggestions, seeking out better ways of doing things can be one of the best ways of shaking things up. Now you are forced to manage differently, and in a way, your staff finds to be more effective.

Being aware of management styles could be the key to enhanced engagement from your team and hitting those business goals. And if you've already identified areas for improvement do be aware that change doesn't happen overnight. Still, with commitment and attention, it's highly achievable, and it could just provide that boost that your career is needing.

How to Improve Your Management Style with Unrubble

Ah, the elusive art of management — where one size definitely does not fit all. 

You've read the books, attended the seminars, and maybe even tried to channel your inner Steve Jobs or Sheryl Sandberg. 

But let's face it, managing a team is like herding cats, each with its own personality and some not too pleased about taking orders…

Unrubble has been designed to help you adapt your leadership style while keeping your sanity intact. Let's check how Unrubble can elevate your management game to boss-level status.

Use Data-Driven Insights for Better Decision-Making

Unrubble's analytics feature allows managers to make informed decisions based on real-time data. This aligns well with the democratic management style, where collective decision-making is encouraged. With data at your fingertips, you can lead discussions that are rooted in facts, not just opinions.

🟪 Our Timesheets feature allows you to pull up real-time reports to discuss team performance and areas for improvement. Numbers don’t lie, do they?

Streamline Team Communication for Enhanced Collaboration

Any successful management style relies on effective communication. Your team will always be on the same page with Unrubble's communication tools. 

It is especially beneficial for affiliative and coaching management styles, where both community and individual growth are essential.

🟪 Ping! That's your job talking! Our free employee self-service app keeps your team notified in real-time, making it easier to maintain open lines of communication – for virtually everyone in your company.

Automate Routine Tasks to Focus on Strategic Goals

The pacesetting management style emphasizes high performance and efficiency. Unrubble's automation features help you eliminate time-consuming manual tasks, allowing you and your team to focus on meeting and exceeding business objectives.

🟪 With Unrubble's powerful scheduling wizards and real-time notifications, you can automate the scheduling process. Get your manager’s time back for strategic tasks, not mundane responsibilities!

Boost Employee Engagement Through Transparent Goal-Setting

Visionary managers inspire their teams with a clear and compelling vision for the future. Unrubble's goal-setting features allow for transparent tracking of individual and team objectives, ensuring everyone knows what they're working towards and how their efforts contribute to the company's overall goals.

🟪 Unrubble's request management system for absences and work-from-home days helps employees understand their time-off policies, and therefore, align with the company's broader goals.

Adapt Your Management Style with Continuous Feedback

Unrubble's feedback tools align well with the coaching management style, which focuses on the long-term development of team members. Continuous feedback loops enable you to understand your team's strengths and weaknesses, allowing you to adapt your management style as needed.

🟪 Unrubble allows for easy integration with popular payroll platforms, making it easier to gather and analyze feedback related to performance and compensation.

Enhance Team Flexibility with Robust Scheduling Features

Unrubble's scheduling capabilities are a boon for managers who adopt a laissez-faire style, giving team members the freedom to manage their own time while ensuring that project timelines are met.

🟪 Unrubble's mobile time clock feature, backed by cutting-edge face recognition, allows team members to clock in from anywhere, offering the flexibility that a laissez-faire management style thrives on.

With Unrubble's features integrated into your management approach, you not only make your life easier but also adapt more effectively to the needs and expectations of your team. 

This is the business factor that can set you apart as a modern, efficient, and highly adaptable manager.

Learn More

  1. Understand the crucial differences between authority vs leadership. Learn which one impacts your team more significantly.
  2. Improve your leadership skills with our recommended best leadership activities suited for all levels of management.
  3. How effective are your management techniques? Learn more with our evaluation of management.
  4. Over 50% of managers benefit from professional reading. Enhance your skills with our people management books.
  5. Select the ideal candidate with confidence using our guide on how to choose a manager properly.


What are some common leadership styles, and how do they differ from one another?

Common leadership styles include democratic leadership style, autocratic leadership style, coaching leadership style, visionary leadership style, and pacesetting leadership style. Democratic leaders encourage team members to participate in decision-making, while autocratic leaders make decisions without input. Coaching leaders focus on employee development, visionary leaders inspire with a clear vision, and pacesetting leaders set high performance standards. Understanding different leadership styles helps in choosing the right approach for various situations.

How does democratic leadership work, and what are its benefits?

Democratic leadership involves encouraging participation and collaboration among team members. Decisions are made collectively, and input from all members is valued. This leadership style fosters creativity, engagement, and a sense of ownership among team members. It can be particularly effective in environments where diverse perspectives and innovation are essential to achieving business objectives.

What characterizes an autocratic leadership style, and when might it be appropriate?

Autocratic leadership is characterized by a leader making decisions without consulting team members. Autocratic leaders maintain strong control and provide clear direction, often in situations that require quick decisions or where strict adherence to rules is necessary. While this style can lead to efficiency, it may also result in a lack of creativity and dissatisfaction among team members if overused.

How does a coaching leadership style contribute to employee development?

A coaching leadership style emphasizes personal and professional growth by providing guidance, feedback, and support. Coaching leaders work closely with team members to identify strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities for development. They foster a learning environment, set achievable goals, and encourage continuous improvement. This leadership style can lead to increased job satisfaction, skill development, and overall success.

What is transformational leadership, and how does it differ from transactional leadership?

Transformational leadership focuses on inspiring and motivating team members to exceed expectations and achieve higher levels of performance. Transformational leaders create a shared vision and foster a positive culture. Transactional leadership, on the other hand, emphasizes structure, rules, and rewards or punishments based on performance. While transformational leadership aims to elevate the team's ability, transactional leadership focuses on maintaining existing standards and processes.

How can a leader identify their own natural leadership style, and why is it important?

Identifying one's own natural leadership style involves self-reflection, feedback from others, and awareness of personal strengths and preferences. Understanding one's natural style helps a leader to be more authentic, adaptable, and effective in various situations. It also allows for intentional development of other leadership skills and styles to become a more well-rounded and successful leader.

What is visionary leadership style, and how does it contribute to achieving business objectives?

Visionary leadership style involves inspiring and guiding the team toward a clear and compelling future vision. Visionary leaders articulate long-term goals, foster enthusiasm, and align team efforts with overarching business objectives. This leadership style can drive innovation, strategic alignment, and sustained growth by keeping the team focused on the bigger picture.

How does servant leadership style impact team dynamics and collaboration?

Servant leadership style emphasizes the leader's role in supporting and serving the team. Rather than focusing on authority, servant leaders prioritize the needs and development of team members. This approach fosters trust, collaboration, and a strong sense of community within the team. It can lead to increased engagement, satisfaction, and overall effectiveness in achieving shared goals.

Can a leader effectively combine different management styles, and what are the considerations in doing so?

Yes, a leader can effectively combine different management styles, such as democratic management style, autocratic leadership, coaching management style, and laissez faire management style. The key is to recognize the unique needs, culture, and goals of the team and to adapt the leadership approach accordingly. Flexibility, awareness, and clear communication are essential in blending different styles to create a cohesive and productive work environment.

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