Management Styles & Techniques

A management style is an overall approach to leading and motivating employees. While a number of management styles exist, you can generally categorize them into a few basic approaches. Within each style, managers use their own techniques and methods to put their ideas into practice. Common styles include coaching, participative, laissez-faire, leader by example and authoritative.

Leader by Example

  1. While a leader by example may incorporate elements of other styles, he believes the best way to lead is to show others how to perform. A retail manager using this style might perform routine tasks periodically to show his employees the work isn’t beneath her. A leader by example can motive workers and inspire them to follow suit. A key risk is that employees may not follow the lead and the manager gets too involved to perform other duties.

Coaching Style

  1. A manager with a coaching style believes her primary responsibility is to train and develop workers to an optimum performance level. This style is favored in organizations where people development is a cultural emphasis. Techniques used include regular informal conversations with employees, immediate praise and feedback, frequent reviews and consistent mentoring.

Participative Style

  1. A participative or democratic management style is used by a leader who wants to get employees involved in decision-making. This approach can help motivate employees who want to feel they have a voice in policy. Its basic tenet is that multiple perspectives are better than one. Drawbacks include the possibility that employees may not respect the manager’s authority or that decisions may be delayed. Meetings with employees or one-on-one discussions are techniques used by a participative manager to garner input.

Laissez-Faire Style

  1. The laissez-faire style may appear similar to the participative style in that the manager doesn’t spend a lot of time dictating tasks to employees. However, the laissez-faire style is much more hands-off. He operates under the assumption that employees can do their jobs effectively with little to no intervention. This approach works well with highly knowledgeable employees. If not, it is problematic as the laissez-faire manager can become little more than a figurehead.

Authoritative Style

  1. An autocratic or authoritative manager is a take-charge type. She believes employees need constant direction, motivation and monitoring. This style is also characterized by direction without employee input. In urgent situations, authoritative leadership works well. Over time, though, lack of involvement from employees may lead to low morale. One-way task direction, top-down evaluations and independent decision-making are all common authoritative style tactics.