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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 September 24, 2020

17 Ways Learn New Skills Faster and Enjoy the Process

17 Ways Learn New Skills Faster and Enjoy the Process

In the movie The Matrix, everyone was intrigued with the ability that Neo and his friends possessed to learn new skills in a matter of seconds. With the incredible rise in technology today, the rapid learning in the movie is becoming much more of a reality than you realize.

The current generation has access to more knowledge and information than any before it. Through the internet, we are able to access all sorts of knowledge to answer almost every conceivable question. To become smarter, it’s more about the ability to learn faster, rather than being a natural born genius.

Here are 17 ways to kickstart your Matrix-style learning experience in a short amount of time.

1. Deconstruct and Reverse Engineer

Break down the skill that you want to learn into little pieces and learn techniques to master an isolated portion. The small pieces will come together to make up the whole skill.

For example, when you’re learning to play the guitar, learn how to press down a chord pattern with your fingers first without even trying to strum the chord. Once you are able to change between a couple of chord patterns, then add the strumming.

2. Use the Pareto Principle

Use the Pareto Principle, which is also known as the 80 20 rule. Identify the 20% of the work that will give you 80% of the results. Find out more about the 80 20 rule here: What Is the 80 20 Rule (And How to Use It to Boost Productivity)

Take learning a new language for example. It does not take long to realize that some words pop up over and over again as you’re learning. You can do a quick search for “most commonly used French words,” for example, and begin to learn them first before adding on the rest.

3. Make Stakes

Establish some sort of punishment for not learning the skill that you are seeking. There are sites available that allow you to make a donation toward a charity you absolutely hate if you do not meet your goals. Or you can place a bet with a friend to light that fire under you.

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However, keep in mind that several studies have shown that rewards tend to be more motivating than punishment[1].

4. Record Yourself

Seeing yourself on video is a great way to learn from your mistakes and identify areas that you need to improve. This is very effective for any musicians, actors, speakers, performers, and dancers.

5. Join a Group

There are huge benefits to learning in a group. Not only are you able to learn from others but you’ll be encouraged to make progress together. Whether it’s a chess club, a mastermind group, or an online meet-up group, get connected with other like-minded individuals.

6. Time Travel

Visit the library. Although everything is moving more and more online, there are still such things called libraries.

Whether it’s a municipal library or your university library, you will be amazed at some of the books available there that are not accessible online. Specifically, look for the hidden treasures and wisdom contained in the really old books.

7. Be a Chameleon

When you want to learn new skills, imitate your biggest idol. Watch a video and learn from seeing someone else do it. Participate in mimicry and copy what you see.

Studies have shown that, apart from learning,[2]

“Mimicry is an effective tool not only to create ties and social relationships, but also for maintaining them.”

Visual learning is a great way to speed up the learning process. YouTube has thousands of videos on almost every topic available.

8. Focus

Follow one course until success! It’s easy to get distracted, to throw in the towel, or to become interested in the next great thing and ditch what you initially set out to do.

Ditch the whole idea of multitasking, as it has been shown to be detrimental and unproductive Simply focus on the one new skill at hand until you get it done.

9. Visualize

The mind has great difficulty distinguishing between what is real and what is imagined. That is why athletes practice mentally seeing their success before attempting the real thing[3].

Visualize yourself achieving your new skill and each step that you need to make to see results. This is an important skill to help when you’re learning the basics or breaking a bad habit.

Take a look at this article to learn how to do so: How to Become a Person Who Can Visualize Results

10. Find a Mentor

Success leaves clues. The best short cut to become an expert is to find an expert and not have to make the mistakes that they have made.

Finding out what NOT to do from the expert will fast-track your learning when you want to learn new skills. It is a huge win to have them personally walk you through what needs to be done. Reach out and send an email to them.

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If you need help learning how to find a mentor, check out this article.

11. Sleep on It

Practice your new skill within four hours of going to sleep.

Josh Kaufman, author of The Personal MBA, is a noted rapid learning expert. He says that any practice done within this time frame causes your brain to embed the learning more rapidly into its neural pathways. Your memory and motor-mechanics are ingrained at a quicker level.

12. Use the 20-Hour Rule

Along with that tip, Kaufman also suggests 20 as the magic number of hours to dedicate to learning the new skill.

His reasoning is that everyone will hit a wall early on in the rapid learning stage and that “pre-committing” to 20 hours is a sure-fire way to push through that wall and acquire your new skill.[4]

Check out his video to find out more:

13. Learn by Doing

It’s easy to get caught up in reading and gathering information on how to learn new skills and never actually get around to doing those skills. The best way to learn is to do.

Regardless of how unprepared you feel, make sure you are physically engaged continuously. Keep alternating between research and practice.

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14. Complete Short Sprints

Rather than to force yourself into enduring hours upon hours of dedication, work in short sprints of about 20-30 minutes, then get up and stretch or take a short walk. Your brain’s attention span works best with short breaks, so be sure to give it the little rest it needs.

One study found that, between two groups of students, the students who took two short breaks when studying actually performed better than those who didn’t take breaks[5].

15. Ditch the Distractions

Make sure the environment you are in is perfect for your rapid-learning progress. That means ditching any social media, and the temptation to check any email. As the saying goes, “Out of sight, out of mind.”

Before you sit down to learn new skills, make sure that potential distractions are far from sight.

16. Use Nootropics

Otherwise known as brain enhancers, these cognitive boosters are available in natural herbal forms and in supplements.

Many students will swear by the increased focus that nootropics will provide[6], particularly as they get set for some serious cramming. Natural herbal nootropics have been used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic traditions to improve the mind and learning.

Find out more about brain supplements in this article.

17. Celebrate

For every single small win that you experience during the learning process, be sure to celebrate. Your brain will release endorphins and serotonin as you raise your hands in victory and pump your fits. Have a piece of chocolate and give yourself a pat on the back. This positive reinforcement will help you keep pushing forward as you learn new skills.

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The Bottom Line

Learning a new skill should be exciting and fun. Whether you use online courses, real world experience, YouTube videos, or free online resources, take time to learn in the long term. Keep picturing the joy of reaching the end goal and being a better version of yourself as continual motivation.

More Tips on How to Learn New Skills

Featured photo credit: Elijah M. Henderson via unsplash.com

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