What’s Your Management Style & How to Use it Effectively

What do you imagine a leader acts like? Is it someone with a loud voice delegating tasks or someone working alongside a team collaborating? How you work with others to achieve a collective goal, or your management style, can be as versatile as ourselves. While no one management style is better, identifying your style and how you can use it to your advantage can help you lead more effectively. 

Let’s identify your management style and how to use it effectively. 

Management Styles Aren’t Always a Perfect Fit

Similar to personality types, leaders are a combination of management styles. Communicating with a team of diverse individuals and experiences requires flexibility. Also, management styles are very situational to what you must accomplish in a given moment. Not every industry or job will require the same management style.

For instance, how you handle conflict between team members will need a completely different management style than how you would overcome a project obstacle. Yet, identifying the management styles you lean toward can help you better communicate, support your team, execute projects, and determine if you fit a new role.  

Here are some questions to consider when finding your management style:

  • How do you give feedback? 
  • Do you communicate the same way to everyone? 
  • What helps you make decisions? 
  • How long does it take you to make a decision? 
  • What values drive your leadership goals? 
  • What adjectives would you want to be associated with your management style? 

What’s Your Management Style?

The following list of management styles may seem exhaustive, but each has advantages and disadvantages. An effective leader knows which style to use and when to get the best results. 


What it is: We often consider authoritative leaders as overbearing, quick to punish, and impressional. Yet, an authoritative management style is more about standing up for yourself and your team than commanding others. 

Advantages: fast decision-making, decisive, combats imposter syndrome, boosts confidence, advocacy

When to use: Authoritative leaders are great during a crisis or time pressures as they can make quick decisions to lead to recovery. Also, authoritative leadership can help advocate for others and re-establish your leadership when others seek to diminish your expertise. 

Example: Positive authoritative leadership can help you develop your executive presence with newfound confidence, insert yourself where excluded, and advocate for equal pay for your diverse team. 

Negative authoritative leadership can lead to micromanaging, loss of employee engagement, higher turnover, and a lack of team collaboration. 


What it is: Bureaucratic management style focuses on following policies and program operating procedures. It is very logical, straightforward, and clear-cut. While bureaucratic leaders follow the rules meticulously, it does not mean they are without feelings or concern for their employees. 

When to use: In large corporations, a bureaucratic management style can help you organize, keep track of, and pay attention to everyone or thing.

Advantages: consistent decision-making, efficient communication, clear standards, fair evaluations, meeting deadlines, unbiased

Example: Industries like technology, government, and law tend to rely more on bureaucratic management styles. They need to take charge of complicated projects with multiple steps, regulations, and standards to uphold. However, bureaucratic leaders can sometimes overlook unique circumstances or continue to enforce outdated policies.


What it is: Charismatic management styles accentuate upbeat and high-energy personalities. They easily draw people in and find it effortless to command a room. 

When to use: Similar to authoritative leadership, a charismatic management style can help teams recover during times of crisis. Plus, keeping a positive outlook and sharing gratitude influences company culture and helps employees feel heard when other leaders pass them by. 

Advantages: sparks motivation, creates positive work culture, acknowledges employee contributions, resolves conflict. 

Example: Charismatic leaders are common in politics and other public-facing positions where they interact with communities. And many managers choose to be charismatic during check-ins as it is more personable, friendly, and supportive of a learning environment. 

However, beware of toxic positivity, as everyone should embrace the bad with the good. 


What it is: Collaborative management style is common among leaders. Surrounding yourself with a team of experts means you can turn to them to help you with anything. It not only helps team members feel supported but also that their opinions are taken seriously.

When to use: Use collaboration to solve problems, foster creativity or innovation, resolve conflict, and form trust between leadership and employees. 

Advantages: avoids power imbalances, employee appreciation, open communication, supports diversity, team problem-solving, fosters a learning environment, and fewer workplace conflicts 

Example: In hospitals, new residents and nursing students commonly collaborate with doctors to diagnose patients and decide on treatment plans.


What it is: The opposite of authoritative is consultative. These managers rely on their team to make decisions, often because their team consists of subject matter experts. Unlike collaborative, consultative management style is not moderating or leading the team’s conversation but receiving information from the team to make a decision. It is also known as democratic or participative management. 

When to use: Consultative is best for experienced managers who are relatively new to an industry. They can be the liaison between departments, other leaders, or clients for their team. 

Advantages: increases engagement and retention, team problem solving, supports highly experienced employees, encourages feedback, and strong communication

Example: A corporation wants new software for their customer service and enlists a team of subject experts to help. The team’s manager is the point of contact, helping communicate complex concepts to the client and consulting the team on what can or can’t be delivered. 


What it is: Similar to consultative, coaching is when the manager is more experienced than the team. They help guide and develop their team professionally while prioritizing larger company goals. 

When to use: The coaching management style can be used anytime in any company. Mistakes and obstacles are commonly overcome with this method of management as it supports a learning environment. 

Advantages: professional development for employees, balances corporate goals and employee goals, great for mentoring others, acknowledges achievements of others, and encourages internal hiring 

Example: A team member is having trouble solving an issue with their design plan. They schedule time with their manager, who asks them questions that spark their creativity and lead them to the solution. 


What it is: Delegative management is common with freelancing, contract, or part-time work when managers interact with employees only to assign tasks and review the results. Some upper-level C-suite leaders also prefer delegative management because they built a powerful team they know they can trust. 

When to use: If your team is self-motivated and requires little oversight, then delegative management is a very effective type of leadership. In large organizational changes, like rebranding, restructuring, or updating policies, delegative management can help leaders focus on the big picture over smaller tasks. 

Advantages: maximizes creativity, reduces micromanaging, facilitation, supportive, increases trust

Example: A graphic artist freelancer has many clients who interact with them only to discuss project specifications and results. 


What it is: Paternalistic management style is when leaders are focused on the best interest of their team. Often, these managers refer to their company culture as “like a family,” which is commonly associated with a negative working environment. Paternalistic managers do their best to support their team and avoid limiting feedback, collaboration, or questioning. 

When to use: Paternalistic management can be dependent on a country’s working culture. Some lean into hierarchical structures more than others. Plus, paternalistic management can be very effective in advocating for the right benefits, compensation, and accommodations for more diverse teams. 

Advantages: loyalty, develops strong team bonds, increases trust, commitment to supporting the well-being of their team, and open communication

Example: Positive paternalistic management style is when leaders recognize their employee who worked overtime multiple weeks and delivered amazing results is not being paid the same amount as their other coworkers. The manager then advocates for their salary increase. 

A negative paternalistic management style is when a leader listens to their employee talk about their goals and desired skills they want to build. But instead of putting them on a stretch opportunity in the skills they discussed, the manager assigns a different project they think is better for the employee. 


What it is: Persuasive management style is another effective leadership skill when managers are more experienced than their team. They provide their team with honest and rational reasons behind their decisions, which helps the team feel involved with the process. 

When to use: As it is a one-way communication, persuasive management is not as common as other managerial styles. It is best when convincing employees to consider new changes to programming, updating old systems, or taking on stretch opportunities.

Advantages: leads with reason and logic, reliable decision-making, upskills employees, and leads to mentorship

Example: A recently hired mid-level manager collaborates with a security consultant who suggests different ways they can secure passwords, websites, and more. The team is hesitant to learn new programs and passwords, but the manager demonstrates the positives and persuades them to switch to a more secure system. 


What it is: Transactional management style may sound negative but it can be a great way to encourage team bonding and innovation. These leaders like to track progress, set milestones, and reward success. 

When to use: Transactional management is common in sales where representatives need to meet specific goals and are rewarded when they achieve them. It is also beneficial for employees who are struggling with their performance reviews. Instead of letting them go, switching to a structured, transactional leadership style can give them the motivation and space to improve. 

Advantages: achieves short-term goals, compatible with self-motivated employees, has clear expectations, and regularly accepts/offers feedback

Example: In a sales department, a few team members are competitive. So, to encourage some team bonding activity, their manager sets a team goal for the quarter with a reward of a targeted bonus.


What it is: Managers who want to transform their teams and processes use transformative management. They set high expectations that may feel like a stretch of the imagination for the employees, but the goal is to encourage innovation and growth. 

When to use: When managers need to adapt to a new market, adjust to an industry trend, or want to create products that set them apart from their competitors. 

Advantages: adaptable, rapid response, innovation, understanding larger goals, and flexibility

Example: Start-ups with fast-changing needs tend to use transformational management to respond to outside influences they can’t control. 


What it is: Visionary management is when leaders focus on the overall company mission and motivate their team to continue supporting it. Commonly used with nonprofits and charities, these managers are passionate and creative problem-solvers.  

When to use: It can be easy to lose sight of overall goals when your team is working to finish the next project, achieve the next goal, and reach for their professional development. Managers can use planning meetings to help focus the team and demonstrate how individuals contributed to the collective team’s success. 

Advantages: employee buy-in, increased innovation, quick thinking, trusting, and problem-solving

Example: A president of an environmental nonprofit struggles to retain volunteers. They work with their team to create a fun social media campaign that highlights their personalities, positive work culture and motivates people to invest in the environment. It doubles the volunteer list for their next event. 

As your career shifts, you may take on different management styles to fit a new team or company. Take time annually to review how you approach leadership and what you could be doing better. If you want to continue growing as a leader, you can do it with the support of industry-leading women around the world.

No matter what field, the International Association of Women brings professionals together to share their tips on the trade and empower each other to reach new heights. Join our community today and find mentors, business resources, weekly webinars, networking events, and more!

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