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What are the Different Types of Management Styles?

By V. Saxena
Updated May 16, 2024
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There are four generally accepted management styles. These include telling and directing, delegating, participating and supporting, and coaching and selling. Each style has its proper time and place. The goal is to analyze each separate situation, and determine which business management style fits best.

Choosing the proper management style requires weighing tasks and relationships. There are leaders who focus equally on both tasks and relationships, while others focus on neither. To decide between tasks and relationships, leaders must first analyze the needs of their subordinates.

For instance, new recruits at an Army bootcamp facility need a directive leader who is charismatic and unafraid of doling out orders. This type of management style is known as telling and directing. The leader makes all the rules, delegates all the tasks, and closely supervises everybody’s performance. This style is one featuring high task and low relationship.

The opposite of telling and directing is delegating, which is low task and low relationship. There is very little leader involvement in this management style. Instead, the leader hands a team or individual an entire project and then allows them to figure out how to complete it. An example of this style is a manager who allows his or her employees to work from home as telecommuters.

Participating/supporting and coaching/selling are the most widely praised management styles. Both of these management styles feature a high focus on relationships. They differ in that participating and focusing is low task, while coaching and selling is high task.

In a participating and supporting management style, both the leader and the subordinate participate in the decision-making process. An example of this style is that of a laboratory director leading his lead research biologist. He actively seeks out the biologist’s input but otherwise allows his subordinate to define the tasks that must be completed. This management style is not task specific.

The coaching and selling style is very task specific, and the leader continues to define goals and delegate tasks. Unlike the directive and delegating styles, however, the coaching style allows for greater two-way communication. The leader accepts advice and in turn offers encouragement.

Of the four management styles, the coaching and selling style is ranked best for general employment situations. Ideally, a manager should focus heavily on both tasks and relationships. Keep mind though that the other three management styles still have their use, and the warranted style depends on the specific situation.

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Discussion Comments
By sneakers41 — On Jul 22, 2011

@Moldova - That is nice. I have to say that some managers like to share their power with the employees by having a consensus approach to solving a problem.

This management style is great when you are dealing with experienced employees or employees that are highly skilled. Sometimes the employees know more about the technical aspects of the job than the manager does and having this approach with those employees gives them respect and makes them more likely to come up with a great idea.

The only downside is that the manager is dependent on his employees to come up with a solution and some people view this style of management as being slightly weaker than other management styles.

I think that a lot of companies now offer personality tests like those Myers- Briggs tests in order to see what type of leadership potential a manager actually has.

By Moldova — On Jul 21, 2011

@Latte31- I agree and I have to say that traditional management styles of giving the employee the performance expectations and asking the employee what they expect from the manager in return really sets a respectful tone that opens the door to ongoing communication.

An effective manager motivates his employees and not only gets results but also creates a happy environment in which people are happy to be at work. My husband is one of these people. He is such a high energy cheerful person that knows how to talk to his employees.

He always gives employees a chance to fix a problem and he always gets promoted because he not only is knowledgeable about his job, but his communication skills are excellent.

I told him that it is rare to find someone like him that is an expert in his field and is compassionate with his employees. I think that focusing on the bottom line is important but remembering the team’s accomplishments also is important to increase employee morale.

By latte31 — On Jul 20, 2011

@Icecream17 - I think that is a really bad management style and too often these types of managers are bullies.

My husband had a boss like this. He was the CEO of the company so you can just imagine how the employee morale was. I always told him not to worry because I believe in karma and what comes around goes around and sure enough after working with this man for two years, the CEO gets terminated.

Apparently, he was also sexually harassing two employees one of which he fired and was facing a wrongful termination suit. I think that the best management style is to treat people the way that you want to be treated and to make sure that your employees know what is expected of them and then hold them accountable for those goals.

There is really no need to micromanage people and managers like this usually do not have a lot of experience managing people. In fact, people with this type of management style don’t last long in their position because productivity suffers because of the higher level of turnover that these managers create.

It costs money in terms of productivity and training every time a company loses an employee. This is definitely a poor management style that yields only short term success.

By icecream17 — On Jul 19, 2011

I think that the management style really determines how successful the manager will be in a group. An autocratic management style really tends to turn off a lot of employees. The employees will probably comply with the manager’s rules, but they will not be happy about it.

I think that employees do get burned out with a manager that is dictatorial like this because it is hard to concentrate on your work when you are walking on eggshells all of the time. Managers like this usually don’t last long because they treat their employees so poorly that they usually get fired.

There lack of tact catches up with them and they usually say things that they shouldn’t. I think that when a manager is autocratic they will get things done because the employees are afraid of him or her, but the employees always end up being the ones that get this type of manager in trouble because there is no loyalty to the manager.

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