Types of Management Styles

Mary Gormandy White
aright
What kind of boss are you?

If you're thinking about opening your own business or moving into a supervisory job, you'll need to decide which of the different management styles you will use to manage and motivate your employees.

Autocratic Management

Autocratic managers utilize the most traditional management styles. Those who model their management philosophy on the autocratic approach to management tend to be task oriented.

Centralized Decision Making

Autocratic managers are characterized by a centralized approach to decision making, which means they choose to make most or all of the decisions themselves. They do not authorize or empower their employees to make decisions, but instead prefer to delegate tasks and closely monitor the actions of the people they supervise.

Reliance on Formal Authority

Individuals who use this type of management style tend to rely on the formal authority associated with their positions to accomplish their goals and objectives. They expect, and demand, that employees will obey their orders simply because they are the boss. They give orders with the expectation that staff members will obey because it is their job to do so.

Fear as a Motivator

Employees who work for authoritarian managers tend to be somewhat afraid of their supervisors, and often choose to do what they are told because they are afraid of getting reprimanded or losing their jobs if they do not comply.

Democratic Management

Sometimes referred to as a diplomatic management style, the democratic approach to management can be distinguished from the autocratic technique in a number of important ways.

Open Communication Encouraged

Democratic managers rely less on the formal authority associated by their position than autocratic managers. Instead, they encourage open communication and strive to foster an environment where workers are prompted to voice their opinions, suggest improvements, and even make decisions.

Emphasis on Empowering Employees

Democratic managers recognize the importance of employee involvement, and actively seek input from their team members on a regular basis. They spend a significant amount of time communicating with their employees, explaining necessary tasks and helping them understand why what they are doing is important to customers and to the company.

Seeking Buy-in and Teamwork

Instead of demanding that employees blindly obey orders because organizational structure dictates compliance, democratic managers seek to create a workplace where employees understand and "buy in" to what it is they are doing. They focus on earning the respect of their team members, and strive to cultivate an environment characterized by a strong sense of teamwork and commitment.

Organizational Implications of Management Styles

As many organizations work on different options that allow them to streamline operations, the belief that democratic approaches to management are superior to autocratic techniques in most situations is becoming more widespread.

Companies are becoming increasingly aware of the value of empowered and committed employees and are discovering that the leadership provided by managers who treat employees with respect is often much more effective than that of supervisors who depend more on intimidation and fear to get the job done.

In the competitive workplace of the 21st century, it's vital for companies that want to succeed for the long term to take proactive steps to retain their best workers. Employees who are treated fairly and with respect are more likely to stay in their jobs than those who feel intimidated and coerced.

The Employee Perspective

The major difference between autocratic and democratic management styles is illustrated clearly by the perspective of employees. Individuals whose supervisors use an autocratic approach to management tend to see their boss as someone they work for. Those with supervisors who are more democratic in nature, however, see their work as more of a team effort. They often describe their relationship with their supervisors as ''working with" their managers.


Employees are much more likely to be committed to their jobs, and to their organizations as a whole, when they seem themselves as part of team rather than as subordinates who are expected to do what they are told without voicing their thoughts or opinions.

Types of Management Styles