Are you the type of boss that expects things to get done because you said so? Or do you take the time to consult each team member before you implement a new system? Do you focus on big-picture goals, or oversee every level of decision making? Depending on your answer, you could be an authoritarian leader, a democratic leader, a visionary or a bureaucratic leader.
These management styles may sound like they were invented for a a Buzzfeed quiz you use to procrastinate, but figuring out your unique approach to leadership can help you identify your strengths and weaknesses, making you a better leader overall. Maybe you’re good at inspiring creativity, but need someone else to oversee the finer details. Maybe you’re a quick decision-maker, but need to be more conscious of making team members feel heard. Whatever category you fall into, be aware that there is no best management style, only pros and cons to each one.
Check out our management style examples below, and you’ll be on your way to becoming a more self-aware, intuitive leader.
The Authoritarian leader gets things done. They assign everyone clear roles, and expect that their authority won’t be questioned. While an authoritarian leader may be considered the best management style for stressful, high stakes situations that require quick decision-making, it can lead to resentment among team members and stifle creativity in the workplace. A strict chain of command is useful in situations where decisions need to be made instantaneously, but in environments where workers are expected to create and innovate, this management style has very little flexibility .
Everyone on the team of a transactional leader knows what’s expected of them and what the consequences are. A transactional leader works under the assumption that if their workers complete specific tasks, then specific results will follow. They do things expecting to see results, not for the sake of morale or tradition. This leaves little room for confusion concerning people’s roles in the office and can allow for great efficiency, however it doesn’t leave much room for creativity or vision.
Transformation leaders have a vision for how they want things to be, and don’t plan on stopping until the necessary changes have been made. They can think big, and motivate groups to work towards a brighter future. They don’t subscribe to the idea of doing things just because that’s the way they’ve been done in the past. Instead, they’re very intentional about each routine they adapt. As an incoming boss, transformational leaders can be controversial. People will be inspired if they’re on board, but resentful if not.
Similar to transactional leaders, visionaries are known for their ability to inspire others to think big. They’re good at spurring creativity and innovation but may lack the discipline to manage the day-to-day, often mundane tasks it takes to keep things running.
Employees will likely welcome a democratic leader. They make everyone feel heard and consider input from every level, inspiring a high level of motivation and collaboration. On the downside, being involved in every level of decision making can lead to micromanaging, which makes it hard for employees to have a sense of ownership over their work. While great for office culture, this style of leadership can sometimes limit efficiency.
The Laissez-Faire leader is the antithesis of the micromanager. They trust their team members to make the necessary decisions to get things done and inspire individual responsibility and sense of ownership. This leadership style often allows for collaborative, high-functioning teams. However, the hands-off approach may cause employees to feel a lack of direction and motivation.
The servant leader doesn’t delegate all of their worst tasks, instead of focusing on how they can make their employees lives easier. They’re there to pitch in, minimizing obstacles at all levels. They’re constantly prioritizing others and making sure their needs are met, which builds high levels of trust and loyalty. On the downside, this service-based style of leadership requires great reserves of selflessness and motivation. It’s exhausting and can lead to burnout.
The inspirational leader thrives on their charisma and people skills. They can work the room, energizing the least enthusiastic people. They network without even trying. Where they struggle is managing the finer details, working independently and keeping track of administrative tasks. They’re not one for spending tons of time reviewing HR policy or proofreading things for a third time. They’re more focused on the big picture.
The autocratic leader is similar to the authoritarian leader. They’re skilled at making quick decisions without consultation or hesitation. They may be most useful on teams lacking direction or lagging in decision making. The risks include hostility from the team members who wish to be part of the decision-making process and a subsequent lack of loyalty.
In the bureaucracy, there’s a rigid and well-defined hierarchy. The system maintains a high level of stability, which is especially useful during changes in leadership and allows for a multitude of voices to be heard. While this might inspire loyalty, it makes decision making a long and slow process, and makes change hard to accomplish. The bureaucratic leader might stifle creativity and get stuck in the ‘this is just how things are done” mentality.
The results based manager is focused on the big picture, but in a different way than the visionary or inspirational leader. They’re looking for results, but they’re less concerned with how things get done. They pretty much agree with “the ends justify the means.”
This manager really cares about their employee’s involvement in the decision-making process. They don’t just ask people’s opinions to make them feel heard, only to make the final decision themselves. They actively and regularly ask for feedback and input and incorporate it into all levels of decision making. Team members are loyal to collaborative leaders. The downside is a slow decision-making process, which doesn’t work in high-stress, fast-paced environments.