Adopt Different Management Styles for Better Outcomes

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Have you ever worn an athleisure type of outfit to someone’s wedding? Unless it’s the couple’s choice of theme, chances are, you probably haven’t or wouldn’t. In the same way that certain occasions require certain styles of clothing, the workplace needs different management styles to get the job done. Things move and change so quickly in today’s workplace. New problems arise in the blink of an eye and fresh opportunities suddenly pop up; leaders need to be agile enough to get their teams up and running in tackling these problems and seizing these opportunities. On top of that, you need to be savvy in navigating the diverse personalities that make up your team. 


Leaders like you are tasked with creating an environment where employees feel empowered, valued, and motivated to perform. Yet, successful leadership isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. It’s imperative to find the right approach relative to your circumstances to get the outcomes you need. In this blog post, we delve into five different management styles that can help you emerge as a game-changing leader, each with its pros and cons. No single style is the right one for all types of situations, but you can learn a lot from each one and determine which style fits what scenario. 


Autocratic Management Style: Taking the Helm 


The autocratic management style positions leaders at the helm of authority where communication predominantly flows from top to bottom and employees are expected to comply with orders. This top-down approach is characterized by well-defined rules, rigid structures, and clear lines of command. Under this leadership style, decisions are made by managers alone and monitor teams with close supervision. 


The strength of autocratic leadership comes in high-pressure situations—times when quick decisions are needed without second-guessing or prolonged deliberations. It works well for very large teams who need clear expectations and well-defined roles, or when the leader is the undisputed subject expert on a given matter. 


On the downside, however, its rigidity may leave little room for creativity and innovation. Taken too far, it can breed an ‘us’ versus ‘them’ mentality between employees and management. 


Tip: Explain the rationale behind policies and decision-making so employees understand them better and feel included in the process. 


Laissez-Faire Management Style: Letting Go of the Reins 


On the opposite end of the spectrum lies the laissez-faire, or hands-off, management style. In contrast to autocratic leadership, employees have control over their workflow and outcomes. Managers take a step back and allow autonomy; they are often present only in the stages where work is being delegated and delivered. 


Laissez-faire managers encourage initiative and provide support whenever required, believing in their employees’ capabilities to independently steer their tasks toward success. This style works especially well when the team is comprised of highly skilled and self-driven employees.  


While this approach fosters individual growth and autonomy, it might prove challenging for less experienced or novice employees who require direct support. Employees who need constant guidance may feel a lack of direction or focus. Worse, employees may resent management if it appears that the latter isn’t contributing anything to their success. 


Tip: Apply this style if your structure and culture are more decentralized. If your employees are more experienced and skilled than you in a particular area, empower them to take the lead. 


Coaching Management Style: Fostering Growth Through Guidance 


Adopting the coaching management style means seeing beyond short-term goals and focusing on the upskilling, learning, and growth of employees in the workplace. Here, a mentorship culture thrives. Failure is seen as an opportunity for learning and long-term employee development takes precedence over immediate success. Team members are encouraged to question, experiment, fail, learn from their mistakes, and ultimately, grow professionally.  


Although it’s highly beneficial for small teams looking for personal growth, taken too far, this form of leadership can result in unhealthy competition within the team. There can be a tendency for employees to fight over favored roles and tasks. A myopic focus on long-term development can compromise the success of short-term goals. 


Tip: Use this style when developing talent from within or when building trust with your employees. 


Collaborative Management Style: Power to All 


Democratic or collaborative management aims to foster a sense of belonging among all team members. It’s characterized by an open-dialogue culture and equal distribution of authority, where managers ask employees for thoughts, ideas, and opinions. Decision-making is sometimes driven by majority consensus. Other times, the manager has the final say, but this involves getting everybody’s input first. Collaborative management allows every idea to be considered—it eliminates hierarchies and encourages communication.  


This open-door policy is excellent for maintaining morale. It is especially useful in highly specialized fields where managers make informed decisions by consulting with staff who are experts or specialists. However, this style can become time-consuming due to protracted deliberations before arriving at decisions. Too much use of this style will also make employees question the competence of their bosses, as it will seem they’re the only ones providing solutions. 


Tip: Time management is key to avoid getting bogged down by the consultative decision-making process. As a manager, ensure that your employees understand why you’re consulting them in the first place and explain how it factors into the bigger decision-making process, not the only contributor. 


Transformational Management Style: Towards New Horizons 


A visionary manager spearheading this style sets lofty, growth-focused goals. This style encourages adaptability and problem-solving skills and makes teams see beyond their tasks, into the broader organizational vision. Ideal for fast-moving industries, transformational leadership pushes team members out of their comfort zones toward innovative solutions. Managers demonstrate their work ethic to their team as they work alongside them in the pursuit of their goals. 


This style is good for innovation and creative thinking, especially when the team is intrinsically motivated to begin with. However, without proper balance, this style may lead to burnout and a high employee turnover rate. Lofty goals can just mean impossible tasks to employees who are not on board with this kind of management style. 


Tip: Use this style to introduce agility, flexibility, and innovation into your team’s culture, but check in with your staff regularly to ensure you’re not burning them out.  


Final Thoughts 


Each management style offers unique benefits and setbacks. Each style may triumph in different situations with different people but also fall short in other circumstances. Don’t confine yourself to a single style; mix elements from each style depending on various factors like industry trends, team requirements, or project objectives. 

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