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Management Styles and Their Key Characteristics

A management style is the way a manager within an organization goes about accomplishing the objectives of the organization. It includes their decision making process, how they exercise their authority, and how they plan. There are three broad categories of management style: democratic, autocratic and laissez-faire. Within these broad categories there are various different sub types with differing characteristics and different pros and cons. There is no one size fits all approach to management styles, what works with one organization, group of employees or manager might not be appropriate for the next. Each management style has different pros and cons but the suitability of the management style for each organization is highly dependent on the business environment, employees and the personal preference and compatibility with the manager themselves. Even within one organization one management style might not be suitable in all scenarios: some situations might call for a quick, top down style whilst another project and point in time might demand more employee freedom. A manager does not always need to use one management style, a successful manager will likely adjust and adapt their management styles to suit the changing needs and factors of their work environment and employees.

Laissez-Faire Management Style

The management in a laissez-faire management style involves only a small amount of supervision and interference. Laissez-faire leaders have an attitude of trust towards their employees and have a hands-off approach without any kind of micromanaging. This type of management works best in flat management organizations where the staff are highly skilled and can be trusted to have high responsibility and autonomy. This hands-off management approach can foster growth and development in employees as it allows for freedom to innovate. Employees working under this type of management style may have higher job satisfaction and an intrinsic motivation to carry out their job well which can be beneficial for productivity and employee turnover. Some risks of this management style is that the staff may end up having a lack of clear direction or low productivity due to the low involvement of managers. The two main types of laissez-faire management styles are delegative and visionary management.

Democratic Management Style

Democratic management is a leadership style where everyone is given the opportunity to participate in the organization’s decision making process. Input and discussion is encouraged but the democratic manager is there to offer control and holds the responsibility for the final decision. The communication can be both top down and bottom up. The disadvantages of democratic management styles is that it can be time consuming for the democratic leader to finalize the decision at the end of the decision making process due to considering a variety of perspectives. Furthermore, when a wider variety of viewpoints are being taken into account then the employees whose input is not pursued may feel less valued and demoralized. The different subcategories of democratic management styles are consultative, participative and collaborative.

Autocratic Management Style

The autocratic management style is the most controlling form of management style as the autocratic manager makes all of the decision making in the workplace. The communication is one way and top down from management to employees. This style of management exists in organizations with hierarchical structures where employees follow management directions without question whilst being supervised and monitored. This management style allows for a fast decision making process and leaves little room for uncertainty and confusion due to conflicting ideas and opinions from employees. The roles of the employees are clearly defined and there is little room for variation which can be beneficial for workers who are new to the organization, unskilled or lack motivation and direction. Autocratic management styles have disadvantages such as employees having a low level of job satisfaction which can result in a high employee turnover. Workers might not feel valued because their opinion is not wanted and they may resent the autocratic managers. The three main subcategories of the autocratic management style are authoritative, persuasive and paternalistic.