Management Styles

Managers have to perform many roles in an organization and how they handle various situations will depend on their style of management. A management style is an overall method of leadership used by a manager. There are two sharply contrasting styles that will be broken down into smaller subsets later:

  • Autocratic 
  • Permissive

Each style has its own characteristics:

Autocratic: Leader makes all decisions unilaterally.

Permissive: Leader permits subordinates to take part in decision making and also gives them a considerable degree of autonomy in completing routine work activities.

Combining these categories with democratic (subordinates are allowed to participate in decision making) and directive (subordinates are told exactly how to do their jobs) styles gives us four distinct ways to manage:

Directive Democrat: Makes decisions participatively; closely supervises subordinates.

Directive Autocrat: Makes decisions unilaterally; closely supervises subordinates.

Permissive Democrat: Makes decisions participatively; gives subordinates latitude in carrying out their work.

Permissive Autocrat: Makes decisions unilaterally; gives subordinates latitude in carrying out their work.

In what situations would each style be appropriate? Inappropriate?

Managers must also adjust their styles according to the situation that they are presented with. Below are four quadrants of situational leadership that depend on the amount of support and guidance needed:

Telling: Works best when employees are neither willing nor able to do the job (high need of support and high need of guidance).

Delegating: Works best when the employees are willing to do the job and know how to go about it (low need of support and low need of guidance).

Participating: Works best when employees have the ability to do the job, but need a high amount of support (low need of guidance but high need of support).

Selling: Works best when employees are willing to do the job, but donít know how to do it (low need of support but high need of guidance).

The different styles depend on the situation and the relationship behavior (amount of support required) and task behavior (amount of guidance required).

Can you guess which management styles would work best for each situation listed above?

Should managers use only one management style? Situational style?

Listed below are a few situations and options for what you would do. Try to decide which of the four situational styles would work best in each situation. Then pick the option that best fits that style.

Situation 1

The employees in your program appear to be having serious problems getting the job done. Their performance has been going downhill rapidly. They have not responded to your efforts to be friendly or to your expressions of concern for their welfare.

Which style would you pick? What would you do?

  1. Reestablish the need for following program procedures and meeting the expectations for task accomplishment.
  2. Be sure that staff members know you are available for discussion, but donít pressure them.
  3. Talk with your employees and then set performance goals.
  4. Wait and see what happens.

Situation 2

During the past few months, the quality of work done by staff members has been increasing. Record keeping is accurate and up to date. You have been careful to make sure that the staff members are aware of your performance expectations.

Which style would you pick? What would you do?

  1. Stay uninvolved.
  2. Continue to emphasize the importance of completing tasks and meeting deadlines.
  3. Be supportive and provide clear feedback. Continue to make sure that staff members are aware of performance expectations.
  4. Make every effort to let staff members feel important and involved in the decision making process.

Situation 3

Performance and interpersonal relations among your staff have been good. You have normally left them alone. However, a new situation has developed, and it appears that staff members are unable to solve the problem themselves.

Which style would you pick? What would you do?

  1. Bring the group together and work as a team to solve the problem.
  2. Continue to leave them alone to work it out.
  3. Act quickly and firmly to identify the problem and establish procedures to correct it
  4. Encourage the staff to work on the problem, letting them know you are available as a resource and for discussion if they need you.

Situation 4

You are considering a major change in your program. Your staff has a fine record of accomplishment and a strong commitment to excellence. They are supportive of the need for change and have been involved in the planning.

Which style would you pick? What would you do?

  1. Continue to involve the staff in the planning, but direct the change.
  2. Announce the changes and then implement them with close supervision.
  3. Allow the group to be involved in developing the change, but donít push the process.
  4. Let the staff manage the change process.