. Authoritarian management styles

The authoritarian management style manages through clear direction and control. It is also sometimes referred to as the autocratic or directive management style. Authoritarian managers typically assert strong authority, have total decision-making power, and expect unquestioned obedience. 

This type of management style requires clearly defined roles and strict hierarchies and reporting structures. Employees should not have to question who is responsible for what. To be an effective authoritarian leader, you need to be willing and able to consistently stay up-to-date on your teams’ work and to make any and all decisions. 

Bill Gates is an example of a positive authoritarian leader. He had a clear plan for his company. A plan that was difficult or impossible for many others to grasp until it became a reality and Microsoft became a household name. 

Without being able to see and share what he had in mind, Gates couldn’t entrust his team to make decisions on their own. This is why he directed the team and maintained the decision-making power.  

2. Visionary management styles

The visionary management style is also sometimes called inspirational, charismatic, strategic, transformational, or authoritative. Visionary managers focus on conveying the overall vision of the company, department, or project to their team. 

Unlike authoritarian managers, visionary managers don’t involve themselves in the day-to-day details. Instead, they focus on motivation and alignment of the team, to keep everyone moving in the same direction, and entrust their team members to handle the details about how to get there. 

If you are naturally a charismatic, outgoing, and personable leader, you may find this style easy to adopt. However, it can be more challenging for introverts or people who are uncomfortable in the limelight. It also requires a great deal of emotional intelligence, a willingness to take risks, and the ability to lead and manage change. 

well-known visionary leader is Nelson Mandela. Mandela was the face and leader of the Anti-Apartheid movement. Through his determination and force of will, Mandela successfully led his country of South Africa to liberation. By relying on his charismatic nature and important vision, he motivated people to bring change without dictating their actions.  

3. Transactional management styles

Transactional management style is using positive rewards such as incentives, bonuses, and stock options to motivate employees to improve their performance. Another way to put it is that the transactional management style relies on motivating employees through extrinsic rewards.

For instance, transactional managers may rely on piecework pay to incentivize their employees to produce more. Similarly, they may structure quarterly or annual bonuses around employee performance.

Sean Gilbert is one of the co-owners of Gilbert Orchards in Yakima. Gilbert uses piecework pay and supports it as a means of driving higher productivity. 

However, there are now numerous lawsuits and class action cases against the state’s tree fruit companies, claiming that piecework pay is unfair and not in line with minimum wage laws. This conflict and rise in legal action may make many leaders hesitant to rely solely on transactional management to drive performance. 

4. Servant Leadership management styles

The phrase “servant leadership” was originally coined back in 1970 by Robert K. Greenleaf in an essay titled “The Servant as Leader.” This management style is also sometimes called coaching, training, or mentoring. 

A servant management style focuses on supporting your employees. Managers who embrace this style spend their time, coaching, mentoring, and supporting their team. They see their role as one of an adviser or coach rather than a dictator or rule enforcer. 

In order to be an effective servant leader, you need to be highly experienced both in the jobs of your employees and in performing coaching. Strong interpersonal skills are needed in order to relate well with your team and build a mentoring relationship. For your team to trust you and open up to you, you will need to show them you are ethical and trustworthy. 

Jack Ma, the Executive Chairman of Alibaba Group, is a well-known example of someone with a servant-leadership management style. Ma is a champion of philanthropic efforts and is highly supportive of his employees. Ma prizes emotional intelligence and fostering love and support among his employees in order to achieve greatness. 

5. Pacesetting management styles

Pacesetting management style embodies leading from the front of the pack. As a manager, you provide instructions and set a work pace, and then expect your employees to follow in your footsteps. 

Typically, pacesetting involves setting high or hard-to-reach standards in an effort to drive your team to achieve new bests and hit bigger goals. 

Pacesetting is successful when a leader sets a challenging pace that employees are motivated to match.

Jack Welch, once the CEO of General Electric, is a prime example of a persistent and demanding pacesetter. While he effectively led the company for twenty years, he did earn some negative press and the nickname “Neutron Jack” for setting an exacting pace and cutting 25% of the company’s jobs over a four year period. 

6. Democratic management styles

This style is based on the philosophy that two heads are better than one and that everyone deserves to have a say, no matter what their position or title…its also sometimes referred to as consultative, consensus, participative, collaborative, or affiliative style.

Managers who adopt a democratic style encourage idea sharing and regular employee participation. The focus is on encouraging your team to share their thoughts, ideas, suggestions, and potential solutions in order to help each other, and the company grows. 

In a democracy, you as the manager, retain the final decision-making authority, but you seek out and take into account the thoughts, ideas, and recommendations of your team before making any decision. 

Ray Dalio refers to this type of group as one where an idea meritocracy exists – the best idea wins, no matter who’s idea it is. Dalio is the founder of Bridgewater Associates, a global leader in institutional portfolio management and the largest hedge fund in the world. Dalio values independent thinking and encourages every employee in the company, no matter how new or how junior, to put forward new ideas and suggestions. 

7. Laissez-Faire management styles

The laissez-faire management style emphasizes employee freedom. Laissez-faire originates from French and directly translates to “let do” in English. In other words, laissez-faire managers let their employees do what they will, with little to no interference. 

Within the laissez-faire management style, there is no oversight provided during the creation or production process. Laissez-faire managers promote self-directed teams, and typically only get involved if something goes wrong or the team requests it. 

In a smoothly operating team, a laissez-faire manager will only appear present at the beginning and the end of the work process. At the beginning, to provide guidelines, share information, and answer questions. And at the end to review the outcome(s) of the team and provide advice or recommendations about how the team can do even better next time. 

Google uses laissez-faire management as a means of promoting employee creativity and innovation. Google Founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin created “20 percent time” way back in 2004. While the rule has changed over time, in essence, management allows employees a portion of their paid work hours to focus on whatever project they want, without any management oversight. 

This freedom enables employees to focus on work they are passionate about and to experiment with creative new ideas. Hugely successful innovations such as AdSense, Gmail, and Google Maps can all be attributed to this “20 percent time.” 

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