How To Find Your Management Style

Managing a team can be a hard feat, especially in times of social isolation and imposed remote working. However, it’s not impossible, and if you learn how to find your management style and use it to your advantage, you’re one step closer to being a better manager.

Today, we’re going to look at what management styles are, and how to identify which one suits you, and your company best.

What Is A Management Style?

For that matter, what is management? According to definition, management is planning work, as well as exercising authority to make sure that work gets done on time. In turn, a management style is the collection of actions you undergo to manage that work. It’s the way you manage. 

But it’s not necessarily something personalized for each individual manager. It’s easy to formalize and set management styles into clear categories, so let’s talk about that.

What Are The 6 Management Styles?

Studying regular corporate managers, along with political or military leaders, scholars have been able to outline 6 individual styles of management. However, these are not rigid. Most managers fall into several categories of managers, and you likely do too.

Put simply, most people have one or more management styles, and each of them seeps into the actions of a manager depending on mood, situation and external pressure.

#1 Authoritative

Authoritative management means giving your employees a general direction of where you want a project or task to head, and then let them adapt to the situation based on their skills and knowledge. It’s a management style based on feedback and persuasion, and it can do wonders for experienced team members that can take responsibility for their action.

With this management style, you only exercise authority to give a general outline, and then guide your team through the hurdles. That’s why it might not be the best choice for junior employees, who tend to need more direction when getting started.

Understanding these slight differences is crucial to learn how to find your management style. As you can see, different styles might work best for different people, and that’s something you need to be mindful of when leading.

#2 Directive

Directive management is a bit more hands-on. It implies exercising authority much more often, and interfering with the daily tasks of your team to ensure a very specific outcome. Directive managers tend to use discipline to impose their view on their team.

It sounds bad, but it’s not a management style you should discount from the get-go. Sure, it probably doesn’t have a place in a modern office, but it’s extremely helpful in high-pressure situations.

However, we don’t suggest you employ a directive management, not even for your junior team members. It has a high likelihood of demotivating employees because they feel like they’re not trusted, and that their every move is tracked.

#3 Participative 

Participative management is based on input and feedback from employees. You want them to participate in decision-making as much as possible, and you exercise authority merely as a liant between your employees.

This type of management can do wonders for retaining employees, achieving great results by collaboration, and motivating employees to work towards common goals. You should consider sharing authority with your team as often as you can.

However, it’s not a management style you can employ 100% of the time. If your team is not in agreement, if they don’t have the experience to make the right calls, or if there is a pressing situation, participative management is not the right call.

#4 Affiliative

Affiliative management relies on tying close relationships with your employees. Affiliative managers will try to be everyone’s friend and motivate employees by creating a welcoming office environment.

Affiliative management style is incompatible with office conflicts, and its effectiveness will quickly wear off when any major disruption comes about. It can be a good choice whenever things are going smoothly, but affiliative management won’t help you in the long run.

#5 Pacesetting

Pacesetting management means leading by example. Elon Musk would famously set his office in the middle of a Tesla factory, and only expect as much of his engineers as he put in himself.

Pacesetting can be inspiring if you have high-achieving employees, and it works best when paired with compensation based on work output. However, it’s not the best management style when your employees are either not shooting for the stars, or they’re just not prepared enough to keep up with you.

That’s where coaching comes in.

#6 Coaching

Coaching management implies a focus on constantly helping your team grow and develop into fully-fleshed professionals. It’s one of the best styles you can employ, since it works regardless of situation, external pressure, tasks or the type of team you have.

The biggest benefit of a coaching management style is the boosted efficiency your team will have as they hone their craft and get better at their tasks. However, coaching is not something you can just do ad-hoc. It’s a skill you yourself must develop in order for this to work.

These are, broadly, the management styles you can employ in your day-to-day activities. However, there are more complex theories about management styles that I’ll cover this month, so stay tuned for that.

Right now, let’s see how to find your management style from these options.

How To Find Your Management Style The Right Way

Finding your management style is not a question of finding something “hidden” inside you, that you need to let shine. There’s no intrinsic characteristic about you that makes it so you’re better with one management style or the other. 

It’s all about finding out what’s right for you, and for your team, at specific moments in time. Perhaps by default, you’d like to have a participative-coaching management style, to accommodate both experienced employees and their expertise, as well as help new team members come into their own.

In a crisis, you might want to have a pacesetting-directive leadership, just to make sure everyone gets everything done in time.

I think the question of how to find your management style can easily be answered by… you.

Experiment with each style. Find what brings about the most sustainable success, and stick with that. And make sure to let me know what you think about management style in the comments section below!