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4 Types of Management Styles to Master to Become a Strong Leader

4 Types of Management Styles to Master to Become a Strong Leader

The type of leader you are has a significant impact on the success of your team. A strong leader is likely to inspire loyalty, hard work, and high levels of morale, whereas a poor leader can result in frequent turnover, loss of productivity, and unmotivated employees.

There are many steps you can take to make sure you’re in the former category. One of the actions you can take today is to understand and implement the types of management styles that will inspire your team to do their best work.

Company leaders and managers interact with their employees in a variety of ways – from collaborating on projects to providing feedback. So it shouldn’t be surprising to learn that leaders also have a lot of influence on how employees feel about their jobs. In fact, a study found that nearly half of employees said they’ve quit a job because of a bad manager.[1]

If you take a closer look at the situation, you can find several direct correlations between the quality of a manager and important factors like employee engagement, retention, and happiness. That’s why mastering the most effective management styles is one of the key components to nurturing and growing a successful team.

1. Visionary Management Style

The visionary leader excels at articulating a high-level, strategic direction for the company and mobilizing the team towards this goal. In other words, the visionary leader is the person who provides a roadmap for the company, and the employees are the ones who use this map as a guide to pave the path forward.

However, this doesn’t mean that the visionary management style encourages authoritarian decision making. Even though it’s the leader who ultimately decides on the direction of the company, this vision is shaped based on what’s best for both the organization and its employees. That’s why visionary leaders need to be open minded – this allows them to absorb feedback from employees and make changes when obstacles arise.

One of the benefits of this type of management style is that it inspires trust between the leader and the employees. Visionary leaders rely on their teams to get the work done and, as a result, employees have more autonomy over their day-to-day roles. This is a productive way to build a strong relationship with your employees, especially since 39% of workers said being a micromanager was the worst trait a boss could have.[2]

Another benefit is that this management style is extremely flexible. One of the great things about a vision is that there’s more than one “right” way to reach it, which gives companies the ability to test out different paths and methods.

The characteristics needed to master this management style include:

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  • High emotional intelligence
  • Flexibility when obstacles come up
  • Being open-minded to feedback
  • The ability to inspire, motivate and mobilize groups
  • Strategic and long-term thinking skills
What the Visionary Management Style looks like in action:

A startup is launching a new product. The CEO sits down with her leadership team and, together, they come up with a high-level strategy for the release. She hosts an all-hands meeting to share the vision with the whole company and have a discussion around it. From there, she empowers her staff to come up with next steps.

The CEO is available to provide guidance along the way and checks in with team leads regularly to make sure everything is headed in the right direction, but doesn’t get involved in the day-to-day activities.

2. Democratic Management Style

A leader who follows the democratic management style collects the perspectives and feedback of their employees to inform decisions. This is done with the intention of building consensus among key stakeholders. Unlike top-down management styles, where decisions are made only by the leadership team, the democratic management style is transparent, encourages participation from employees, and is relatively objective.

This is beneficial because it ensures that the whole organization is aligned or, at the very least, understands how a major decision was made. This is important because employees can feel left out when decisions are made without their input. A Democratic Management Style is also effective because it gives everyone at the company a voice, which can lead to more diversity of thought.

This style has benefits for the leaders and managers of a company as well. Having the opportunity to consistently check in with employees and collect their feedback can lead to critical insights into the overall sentiment, frustrations, and desires for the future of the organization.

The characteristics needed to master this management style include:

What the Democratic Management Style looks like in action:

A manager has to decide whether or not their team should scrap a project that’s producing ambiguous results. Instead of making the decision on his own, he has one-on-one meetings with everyone involved in the project, puts out an anonymous survey, and gathers additional data.

After collecting all the feedback, he decides to cancel the project because most of the feedback suggested that it wasn’t a productive use of time.

3. Coaching Management Style

This management style puts the emphasis on the professional and personal growth of employees. Leaders who follow this style are deeply invested in the needs of their team and take on more of a mentor role versus a traditional “boss” role. This means they’re available to share advice and guidance, willing to serve as an advocate, and always looking for opportunities to help their employees thrive.

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What does this look like in practice? For instance, let’s say an employee demonstrates a lot of interest and promise in the field of inbound marketing. A leader who follows a coaching management style will find opportunities for this employee to work on inbound marketing projects, encourage him or her to attend relevant events and provide the space and resources to further develop the skills needed to succeed.

The coaching management style is a great one to master because it demonstrates to employees that their leaders care about their success and wellbeing. This inspires employees to produce high-quality work and makes it more likely that they’ll feel safe confiding in their managers about any issues that arise in their jobs. This is a much better alternative to having an employee who doesn’t trust their manager and leaves the company without warning.

The characteristics needed to master this management style include:

  • A strong desire to help employees grow personally and professionally
  • Strong listening and feedback skills
  • Empathy and the ability to connect with others
  • Problem-solving skills
  • The ability to build trust and meaningful relationships
What the Coaching Management Style looks like in action:

A manager has a struggling employee named Tim. She recognizes that Tim is a smart person and a hard worker but is going through a slump, so she uses an upcoming performance review as an opportunity to see how she can better support him. The manager uses strategic performance review phrases such as:

You excel at [action], and I would love to continue seeing that from you.

or

I encourage you to keep doing [action]. I’ve received positive feedback that this has really helped the team [result].

to deliver feedback in a clear but empathetic way, and this opens up a productive dialogue around the challenges Tim is facing at work

Culture Amp, a company dedicated to making it easy to collect, understand and act on employee feedback recently compiled a great list of all these phrases and filled them in with real life examples in their article on performance review phrases, here are a few of them:

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You excel at [action], and I would love to continue seeing that from you.

Example from Culture Amp:

You excel at creating thoughtful marketing decks. I would love to have you continue taking the lead on them, especially since I know you enjoy the creative process.

I encourage you to keep doing [action]. I’ve received positive feedback that this has really helped the team [result].

Example from Culture Amp:

I encourage you to keep being a sounding board for your teammates. Many of your team members say you’re a great listener, and they feel comfortable sharing ideas with you.

Together, they come up with a plan of action that includes adding more variety to Tim’s workload and giving him the opportunity to refresh his skill set through company-sponsored online courses. The manager checks in with Tim regularly to make sure he feels like he has everything he needs to succeed.

4. Laissez-Faire Management Style

The laissez-faire management style is very hands-off and encourages employees to take initiative on most of the decision making, problem-solving, and work. When implemented in the right work environment, employees will appreciate having the trust, space, and autonomy to work in ways that will maximize their output.

Typically, companies that have a flat structure or don’t want to follow a rigid hierarchy are the best candidates for this management style. It’s also important to make sure you have a team of extremely driven and competent employees who are comfortable with having minimal oversight from leadership.

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Managers should also be prepared to go into conflict management mode whenever their employees lose focus or butt heads.

The benefit of this type of leadership is that it can lead to increased innovation, creativity, and productivity since there are no restrictions placed onto the way employees have to work or think. Similar to the Visionary Management Style, the amount of freedom granted to employees is also a great way to build a strong relationship based on trust.

The characteristics needed to master this management style include:

  • An immense amount of trust in your team members
  • The ability to be hands off but available when needed
  • Conflict management skills
  • Comfortable with decentralized structures
  • A knack for checking in on progress without being overly involved
What the Laissez-Faire Management Style looks like in action:

The Head of Marketing is launching a new project with his highly motivated, competent, and independent team. He assigns large chunks of the project to employees based on their strengths, gives them a deadline, and lets them run with their individual tasks. He’ll check in occasionally with the team members to see if there’s anything they need from him but, otherwise, remains completely hands off until the deadline.

Final Thoughts

Ultimately, the type of management style you decide to go with is completely up to you. If you need some guidance on how to make this decision, here are a few key questions you can ask yourself to get started:

  • Which of these management styles aligns most with my existing strengths?
  • What are the gaps in my management style right now, and do any of these other alternatives fill those gaps?
  • What are the needs of my organization at this moment?
  • Have my employees shown a preference for one type of management style over another?
  • What type of management style do the company leaders I admire use?

Keep in mind that you’re not committed to a single type of management style throughout your career. You can test out a few and see what feels right to you, or you can create your own management style by blending your favorite parts of each one.

Don’t be afraid to explore and get creative – the ultimate goal is to master the management style that feels natural to you and also brings out the best in your employees.

More About Leadership and Management

Featured photo credit: Charlie Solorzano via unsplash.com

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Dmitry Dragilev

Single-handedly grew a startup from zero to 40 million page views, Dmitry is a role model for aspiring entrepreneurs.

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Last Updated on July 8, 2020

How to Prevent Decision Fatigue From Clouding Your Judgement

How to Prevent Decision Fatigue From Clouding Your Judgement

What is decision fatigue? Let me explain this with an example:

When determining a court ruling, there are many factors that contribute to their final verdict. You probably assume that the judge’s decision is influenced solely by the nature of the crime committed or the particular laws that were broken. While this is completely valid, there is an even greater influential factor that dictates the judge’s decision: the time of day.

In 2012, a research team from Columbia University[1] examined 1,112 court rulings set in place by a Parole Board Judge over a 10 month period. The judge would have to determine whether the individuals in question would be released from prison on parole, or a change in the parole terms.

While the facts of the case often take precedence in decision making, the judges mental state had an alarming influence on their verdict.

As the day goes on, the chance of a favorable ruling drops:

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    Image source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

    Does the time of day, or the judges level of hunger really contribute that greatly to their decision making? Yes, it does.

    The research went on to show that at the start of the day the likelihood of the judging giving out a favorable ruling was somewhere around 65%.

    But as the morning dragged on, the judge became fatigued and drained from making decision after decision. As more time went on, the odds of receiving a favorable ruling decreased steadily until it was whittled down to zero.

    However, right after their lunch break, the judge would return to the courtroom feeling refreshed and recharged. Energized by their second wind, their leniency skyrockets back up to a whopping 65%. And again, as the day drags on to its finish, the favorable rulings slowly diminish along with the judge’s spirits.

    This is no coincidence. According to the carefully recorded research, this was true for all 1,112 cases. The severity of the crime didn’t matter. Whether it was rape, murder, theft, or embezzlement, the criminal was more likely to get a favorable ruling either early in the morning, or after the judges lunch break.

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    Are You Suffering from Decision Fatigue Too?

    We all suffer from decision fatigue without even realizing it.

    Perhaps you aren’t a judge with the fate of an individual’s life at your disposal, but the daily decisions you make for yourself could hinder you if you’re not in the right head-space.

    Regardless of how energetic you feel (as I imagine it is somehow caffeine induced anyway), you will still experience decision fatigue. Just like every other muscle, your brain gets tired after periods of overuse, pumping out one decision after the next. It needs a chance to rest in order to function at a productive rate.

    The Detrimental Consequences of Decision Fatigue

    When you are in a position such as a Judge, you can’t afford to let your mental state dictate your decision making; but it still does. According to George Lowenstein, an American educator and economy expert, decision fatigue is to blame for poor decision making among members of high office. The disastrous level of failure among these individuals to control their impulses could be directly related to their day to day stresses at work and their private life.

    When you’re just too tired to think, you stop caring. And once you get careless, that’s when you need to worry. Decision fatigue can contribute to a number of issues such as impulse shopping (guilty), poor decision making at work, and poor decision making with after work relationships. You know what I’m talking about. Don’t dip your pen in the company ink.

    How to Make Decision Effectively

    Either alter the time of decision making to when your mind is the most fresh, or limit the number of decisions to be made. Try utilizing the following hacks for more effective decision making.

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    1. Make Your Most Important Decisions within the First 3 Hours

    You want to make decisions at your peak performance, so either first thing in the morning, or right after a break.

    Research has actually shown that you are the most productive for the first 3 hours[2] of your day. Utilize this time! Don’t waste it on trivial decisions such as what to wear, or mindlessly scrolling through social media.

    Instead, use this time to tweak your game plan. What do you want to accomplish? What can you improve? What steps do you need to take to reach these goals?

    2. Form Habits to Reduce Decision Making

    You don’t have to choose all the time.

    Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but it doesn’t have to be an extravagant spread every morning. Make a habit out of eating a similar or quick breakfast, and cut that step of your morning out of the way. Can’t decide what to wear? Pick the first thing that catches your eye. We both know that after 20 minutes of changing outfits you’ll just go with the first thing anyway.

    Powerful individuals such as Steve Jobs, Barack Obama, and Mark Zuckerberg don’t waste their precious time deciding what to wear. In fact, they have been known to limiting their outfits down to two options in order to reduce their daily decision making.

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    3. Take Frequent Breaks for a Clearer Mind

    You are at your peak of productivity after a break, so to reap the benefits, you need to take lots of breaks! I know, what a sacrifice. If judges make better decisions in the morning and after their lunch break, then so will you.

    The reason for this is because the belly is now full, and the hunger is gone. Roy Baumeister, Florida State University social psychologist[3] had found that low-glucose levels take a negative toll on decision making. By taking a break to replenish your glucose levels, you will be able to focus better and improve your decision making abilities.

    Even if you aren’t hungry, little breaks are still necessary to let your mind refresh, and come back being able to think more clearly.

    Structure your break times. Decide beforehand when you will take breaks, and eat energy sustaining snacks so that your energy level doesn’t drop too low. The time you “lose” during your breaks will be made up in the end, as your productivity will increase after each break.

    So instead of slogging through your day, letting your mind deteriorate and fall victim to the daily abuses of decision making, take a break, eat a snack. Let your mind refresh and reset, and jump-start your productivity throughout the day.

    More Tips About Decision Making

    Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

    Reference

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