Guide to the Major Styles of Management

Every manager has their own style, but just about every management style falls under one of six major categories. Sometimes the management style does not fit the situation, or the manager is unable to adapt their style to the company's needs. In other cases, the manager and their style are just what the company needed. A company is only as strong as its management team, so every business owner and executive needs to be familiar with the six different management styles and what they have to offer. The right mixture of a competent manager using an appropriate management style can help a company to achieve all of its business goals.


An autocratic manager makes all of the decisions and expects subordinates to carry out those decisions without debate. Some autocratic managers also dictate how the decisions are to be carried out in very specific terms, while others will give employees latitude on how they will execute the instructions. Autocratic managers who make good decisions can make the company look unified and competent. But even good autocratic managers can create problems with subordinates who want to have their opinions matter in the operation of the company. A staff that needs direction would benefit from an autocratic manager. A creative staff that wants to work as a team may find this management style difficult to deal with.


Consultative leaders tend to act like autocratic leaders, but with one very important difference. Consultative leaders care what their subordinates have to say, and consultative leaders also care about the way decisions impact employees. While there is no guarantee that a consultative leader will take an employee's advice when making a decision, at least this kind of management style will stop to listen. Employees that want to have some level of input into decision making, but still want to avoid the responsibility of actually making decisions, respond well to this management style.


A persuasive manager still wants to make all of the decisions on their own, but there is an element of acceptance that is required for each decision to feel as though it is the right one. Persuasive leaders make decisions and the spend time convincing subordinates that the decisions are correct by working with employees and mapping out the benefits of the decision. This kind of management style is extremely effective in complex situations where the manager is an expert who needs to have cooperation from employees, but asking for employee input is not part of the process.


A democratic leader works by consensus. Each major business decision is discussed by the group and the group consensus usually winds up being the final decision. This kind of management style can be a detriment because it will often bypass the best decision to utilize the consensus. But on teams where diversity is important and each person has something vital to offer to the decision making process, this sort of management style can be extremely effective.


The word "chaotic" is not often attached to successful business approaches, but it actually works very well as a management style. The chaotic management approach gives employees the power to make all of their decisions. Management outlines company goals and each employee is responsible for achieving their goals. There are senior team members who mentor employees and offer guidance, but this management style lacks all of the structure that the other styles employ. This management style has become extremely successful in companies that deal with innovative ideas in fast-paced industries.


The Laissez-faire management style also utilizes no guidance from management, but that is not actually the intent. In a laissez-faire management style, the manager delegates all responsibility and decision making to employees and offers no guidance or assistance with the resources needed to get the job done. The difference between chaotic and laissez-faire managers is that laissez-faire managers delegate responsibility without regard to employee ability. In order words, laissez-faire managers often put their employees in positions to fail. Management experts generally agree that a laissez-faire management style has little chance of succeeding in any environment.