Leadership and Management Styles
What is management? What makes one manager “good” and another manager “bad?” Are managers born great, or well-trained and integrated into the organization?
While every manager is different, there are certain categories of leadership. These categories are generally referred to as “management styles.” While there is some overlap, these differ from “leadership styles.” At its core, management is about controlling a group to move toward some goal. Leadership is about influencing a group to move toward a vision.
The idea of leadership is sometimes coveted as the more glamorous of the two. However, management implies a greater level of responsibility to stakeholders. That makes management an organizational necessity. A leader may successfully push many people across the finish line of a race. But a manager must file a report indicating the specific percentage of finishers and the average run times. Managers may also have to create a plan to reduce run times and increase the number of finishers.
Types of Management Styles Defined
The concept of management styles has become increasingly nuanced in recent decades. Conflict management styles, for example, are different from the types of management in business. Businesses tend to avoid unnecessary conflict. Some social organizations, on the other hand, are built around resolving intergroup conflict.
For the purposes of this article, we answer the question, “What are the four basic management styles?” We will focus on 4 types of management styles: Autocratic Management Style, Authoritative Management Style, Diplomat Leadership Style, and Servant Leadership. This summary of leadership styles is not exhaustive. For example, the democratic management style encourages input from subordinates as part of their decision-making process.
Autocratic Management Style
Autocratic managers unilaterally make all decisions for their group. They generally don’t consult or consider the opinions of their subordinates. They are Drill Sergeants and provide the strategy and goals for the unit and expect perfect compliance.
This style of management is most effective where two factors exist. First, the subordinates are inexperienced, in training, or not experts. This applies to meeting the manager’s strategies and goals. A person can have a decade of field experience, but no expertise meeting a specific manager’s expectations. Note that the manager decides the level of an employee’s expertise.
The second factor is the cost of failure. Militaries and emergency services departments often use autocratic managers. In these situations, if one person deviates from the instructions many people could die. Factories also use autocrats because each step in the assembly process must be completed exactly the same.
Authoritative Management Style
At first glance, the authoritative management style seems similar to the autocratic style. The major difference is that the authoritative manager’s control comes from the perception of authority. The subordinates follow the manager’s commands because they believe that the manager is the expert.
We can use football coaches as examples of the difference. Two coaches can be hired right out of college and both use autocratic management styles. But, once one coach wins several championships, that person’s style may naturally transition into authoritative.
Authoritative managers are found in the same fields as autocrats. Both styles can be uncomfortable for subordinates with higher levels of expertise. Neither style fosters high levels of creativity or provides useful leadership development among subordinates. Employees learn to do what they are told, and how to tell people what to do.
If a manager is truly an expertise-backed authority, employees can at least learn from that expertise. This learning confers an advantage to authoritative style leadership compared to autocratic. Employees are more likely to voluntarily work under an actual expert, versus a random autocrat giving orders.