18 Jan 2022

Management styles in business

Management styles
Management styles in business

In the business world, the leadership style you choose to emulate will either make or break your team’s cohesion, productivity, and success. These decisions culminate in management styles, which when understood, can be used to your company’s advantage.

Unlike personality traits, which are composed of your temperament, disposition, and character, management styles are the methods used by supervisors to achieve department goals and objectives. By managing responsibilities in a certain way, project managers can direct their teams toward betterment, engagement, and ultimately, success.

In this article, we discuss the importance of using a management style in your project management processes, and break down seven of the most commonly utilised strategies in the workplace. Additionally, we also share some helpful tips on ways to identify your personal management style.

What are management styles?

A management style is a set of guiding beliefs or principles that shape the way managers work within their departments. They can be used to:

  • Develop outcomes and solutions

  • Manage team members

  • Organise workflow

  • Create expectations

  • Reward department members

Management styles function on the belief that leadership is not an inherent trait; rather, it is developed through internal, external, and situational circumstances.

  • Internal circumstances — These refer to your personal beliefs regarding work and leadership, as well as your inherent traits (i.e. independent, matter-of-fact, etc).

  • External circumstances — Anything outside of personality traits are referred to as external circumstances. This could include the type of industry you work in, the prevalent leadership style, or organisational expectations.

  • Situational circumstances — The type of project you are working on, the deadline in question, or your level of management are situational circumstances that may impact leadership style.

In short, management styles are a reflection of your personality traits, your organisation’s expectations, and the type of environment you work in.

The 7 types of management styles

Although there are many types of unique or hybrid management styles in project management, the following seven varieties are considered to be the most well known. Because there is no one-size-suits-all management style, it is important to familiarise yourself with each variety below.

1. Authoritative management

With an emphasis on top-down management, the authoritative management style is a leadership method that is almost always controlled at the highest level. Decisions are made up top and relayed to employees, who will be expected to follow all feedback to the letter.

This style is extremely useful for extremely busy or chaotic work environments where efficiency is key. However, it may also alienate employees and create resentment in the workplace over a longer-term period.

2. Consultative management

In contrast to authoritarian strategies of management, consultative styles use a relaxed policy of interaction to gather constructive feedback from employees. Although this style still relies on upper management for decision-making, information gathered using consultative feedback can and will be used to make final decisions.

This management style is particularly effective at boosting employee engagement and overall satisfaction. Keep in mind that it may not be as effective as other styles and may take longer to execute.

3. Democratic or participative management

In this management strategy, department leads and employees wield the same amount of decision-making power. With a constant flow of back and forth information, democratic management allows multiple people to collaborate on the same goal.

Of course, there are some downsides to following this type of management. For one thing, this strategy can be extremely time-intensive. It’s also more inefficient than authoritarian styles, which streamline the decision-making process.

4. Laissez-faire management

Translated from French as ‘allow to do,’ this style takes an entirely hands-off approach to project management. Supervisors rarely become involved with their employees’ workflows and prefer to leave all individuals to their own devices.

As you might imagine, this style is greatly effective for employees who prefer more freedom, but it may be stressful for those needing more guidance. If you work in an industry that does not hinge heavily on self-motivation, this may not be the right strategy for you.

5. Persuasive management

Similar to authoritarian management, the persuasive style places full decision-making power in the hands of upper management — with a caveat. Supervisors come alongside employees to explain why and how decisions are being made. This management style encourages and motivates its employees while simultaneously streamlining the decision-making process. However, a one-way communication protocol may not be effective for all industries and employees.

6. Transformational management

Quite popular in startups and tech industries, transformational management is a people-first strategy. Leaders using this style will push their employees to their limit, and encourage professional growth and learning.

Although this strategy may encourage and even improve some employees, it will leave others feeling uncomfortable and confused. For this reason, it runs the risk of increasing turnover and reducing job satisfaction. It may also affect the way employees view their supervisors. If workers feel their supervisors are pushing too hard, it could lead to burnout or resentment within the organisation.

7. Collaborative management

Many nonprofit industries prefer to use collaboration management within their organisation or focus on employee worth, satisfaction, and two-way input. Employees are encouraged with consistent praise and direction, which greatly supports their work output.

Organisations using collaborative management often enjoy greater employee motivations, better project outcomes, and higher engagement rates. It is also the most likely management style to result in manager burnout. If not managed correctly, it may significantly impact their decision-making process.

Identifying your management styles in business

It is important to note that there is no such thing as a good or bad management style — and it’s incredibly common for leaders to use a mix of different styles. Depending on your organisation and employees, certain styles may have more advantages than disadvantages, and vice versa. Understanding your personal style and adapting it to meet business needs is essential to succeeding in the field.

Below are a few ways to start identifying your personal management style.

  • Take a personality test — Use a verified personality test or self evaluation to help identify certain aspects of your character, as well as your beliefs on management systems.

  • Ask peers and employees — To learn more about your style, send out an anonymous survey or poll to your employees for feedback. Do you tend to be more authoritarian? What about your methods of conflict resolution?

  • Assess your needs — Have a good understanding of your department goals. What sort of leadership style would provide the greatest amount of goal support? Now compare this with your department’s past needs. What management styles made the biggest impact on department objectives?

Having a good grasp of your personal management style is vital for starting the transformation process. By understanding your initial starting point, you can make better decisions about transitioning to new, better-suited styles.

Transform management styles with AIPM

Mastering the various management styles in business may take weeks to months, if not years. As you continue to develop yourself as a project management professional, it will be important to surround yourself with the resources and information necessary for personal growth.

At AIPM, we are proud to offer individual memberships that unlock thousands of resources for project managers at every level of experience. Providing a highly-vetted national certification for thousands of Australians, our organisation has been recognised as a pioneer in project manager development.

Ready to transform your management style? Contact AIPM today to learn more about individual memberships and certifications.

project manager self assessment quiz