What’s Your Management Style?

It takes a lot of work to keep your small business growing, so having a strong team of employees behind you might be one way that you get it all done. But have you ever really stopped to think about how you manage that team? We’re not just talking about day-to-day, practical things, like hours, time off, salaries, etc. We’re talking about your management style. Are you an authoritarian? A visionary? A democratic leader? And does it matter? It does, because having the wrong style for your business and team can spell disaster. Let’s look at five management styles, to see which one might suit you and your business best. 

Why Your Management Style Matters

Your management style is the way that you choose to lead and work with your team. This includes everything from how you communicate with your employees and manage their projects to how you discipline them. How you manage your employees can have a huge effect on your business and its growth. Consider this one stat alone: a recent study has shown that only 30% of employees are actually “engaged” at work, and approximately 70% of that disengagement was attributed to how they were managed. 

Different teams, businesses, projects, and tasks might require different management styles. Choosing the wrong one can result in employees who aren’t engaged, further leading to low productivity, high turnover, poor quality work, absenteeism, and lower profits. In short, it’s hard to grow if you’re not paying attention to your management style. 

1. Authoritarian

caucasian man in a suit pointing his finger while talking

Also known as an autocratic or directive management style, this style involves taking full control in almost all situations. You make all the decisions, you expect total obedience, and you create a strict hierarchy and reporting structure for your team. 


  • Your employees will never need to wonder who is responsible for what
  • It’s efficient: decisions are made quickly and seamlessly


  • This style can easily create a negative work environment, where employees feel that they are being micromanaged, and that their creativity is being stifled
  • It takes A LOT of time and effort on your part! 


The disadvantages of the authoritarian management style usually outweigh the benefits, but it can be useful when you are first starting out with a new team, who may need more direction at first.

2. Democratic illustration of a man standing next to a sheet that says teamwork with other sitting around the table.

This style, also known as a consultative, consensus, participative, collaborative, or affiliative style, works in theory the way a democratic government works. Although you have the final say, everyone on the team gets a voice. You encourage employees to share ideas, thoughts, suggestions, and solutions AND you take them all into account before you make your decision.


  • Every member of your team will feel like they have skin in the game, which can lead to higher morale and increased engagement and productivity
  • It encourages innovation and enhanced problem-solving skills
  • Two heads – or three or five or ten heads – can be better than one!


  • It can be the exact opposite of the authoritarian style when it comes to efficiency: listening to everyone’s ideas and having them hash it all out can take a long time
  • Some employees could become resentful if they feel like their ideas are never being taken up


If you’re good at moderating what can become heated discussions, and you value candor and constructive criticism, as well as employee innovation, and you’re not in a crunch for time, this can be a good style to utilize. One thing to remember, though, is that it will really only make sense if everyone on your team has similar roles or is working towards the same goal.

3. Visionarywoman who is writing on a glass ideas with a group of workers standing looking

Also known as the inspirational style of leadership, utilizing the visionary style means that you are focused almost exclusively on the big picture. You are there to offer motivation and convey an overall vision, but you mostly stay out of the day-to-day operations. 


  • It can help motivate your team to work towards a specific goal, or get them back on the same page if they’re divided over something
  • If your business needs a change of direction, putting on your visionary manager’s hat can help them to see what you want the future to hold


  • If you’re not focusing on details, someone else has to be! That can become a problem in certain work environments.


While this style is great for cheerleading your employees towards a goal, it’s not for everyone or every team. You need to be confident in your charisma and ability to motivate; this style is certainly not for introverts. In addition, your team should be experienced and very knowledgeable about the day-to-day workings of your operation, since they’ll be responsible for it all. 

4. Servantthe word coaching with many little words supporting it around

This style is also known as the coaching style, and its main focus is on supporting your employees. You spend your time coaching, mentoring, and advising, as opposed to dictating and enforcing rules. 


  • This type of style requires employees to learn from their own mistakes rather than from being disciplined, so it can be effective in helping your team members improve their performance, develop their skills, and advance professionally. 
  • Taking on the role of mentor can mean building strong bonds between you and your employees


  • This style also requires a lot of time and effort on your part. 
  • While focusing on learning opportunities and improvement can be positive, it can also tell your employees that the fact that they tried is more important than the final outcome of their efforts
  • It can be ineffective for some employees, especially ones who are not particularly self-motivated


If you’re willing to put in the time and effort AND you are very confident that you know your employees’ jobs in and out and can effectively coach them, being a mentor to them can be a very positive experience. However, if you’re crunched for time, or your team is focused on producing a product or on customer service, you may want to steer clear of this style, since it tends to be less focused on the quality of their output and more on their professional development. 

5. Laissez-Fairecaucasian man in a suit with his thumb up

If you’re looking for a style that’s the exact opposite of micromanaging, the laissez-faire style is it. From the French for “let do,” this style emphasizes complete employee freedom. You show up to get your employees going, giving them guidelines, information, and answers to any questions. Then you fade into the background to let them do their thing, only stepping in if problems are brought to your attention. You then review the outcomes and provide advice or recommendations. 


  • You’ll have more time for your own work
  • Your employees will be empowered to take risks, and you might find increased creativity and innovation in your business. 


  • If your team is not self-motivated or skilled enough, or not great with time management, you could run into real problems. Your employees might miss deadlines, or produce unsatisfactory work that you’re only aware of once it’s finished.
  • It can be risky for large or critical projects, because you might not know about problems until it’s too late.
  • Some employees may feel like they’re lacking a leader or a mentor, and could even feel neglected or that they’re floating around with any real direction.


This style will really only work for your team if you know them VERY well: you know that they have the knowledge, the drive, and the time-management and problem-solving skills to get the job done right. If that’s the case, then you could use this style to give a burst of creativity and innovation to certain projects. 

When you started your business, exactly how you would manage your employees might not have been top of your list of things to think about. But now that you’re in the thick of things, you should stop and look at whether you’re using the right style for your team and the work they’re doing. It could make the difference in morale, productivity, and, ultimately, your bottom line.

So do you recognize yourself in any of the above management styles? Do you see any ideas that you can incorporate into the way you direct your team?

About The Author:
Cassandra Love

With over a decade of helpful content experience Cassandra has dedicated her career to making sure people have access to relevant, easy to understand, and valuable information. After realizing a huge knowledge gap Cassandra spent years researching and working with health insurance companies to create accessible guides and articles to walk anyone through every aspect of the insurance process.

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