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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

Reference

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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 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

More on Building Habits

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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