10 Management Styles and Their Key Characteristics
Leadership Team Management

10 Management Styles and Their Key Characteristics

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Managing people is tough. There's a whole lot of responsibility on a manager's shoulders. But one of the most important things they need to figure out is their management style. You can't just have a one-size-fits-all approach and call it a day.

A good manager must understand what leadership style suits them best and how their employees respond. So, we'll break down the top 10 management styles and what makes each tick.

What is a management style?

A management style is a manager's approach to leading and managing a team to achieve specific goals. It involves understanding the strengths and weaknesses of your team members, effective communication, and creating a positive work environment.

There are many management styles, but choosing one should depend on the changing circumstances and team dynamics. Without this flexibility, you may limit your visibility into what your team expects and/or needs from a manager.

The ultimate goal of different management styles should be to create a culture that empowers people to work together towards a common goal. And that starts with understanding your management style.

Management styles

Things to consider when deciding on the right management style.

  • The overall company culture.
  • The industry that you are managing in.
  • The general age group of the employees.
  • The level of management.
  • The country and overall locational culture.
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What are the different management styles?

Below is a list of the most commonly used management styles and their key characteristics.

1. Coaching management style

This management style focuses heavily on employees' development aspects, such as their skills and abilities.

Typically a "coach" or “coaching” is thought of only in sports, but the underlying idea of a coach is simply a management style that incorporates several specific characteristics.

Coaching management style

This collaborative leadership style encourages a highly communicative relationship where the manager guides and supports the employee in achieving tasks or goals.

Key characteristics

  • Focuses on developing employees' skills and abilities.
  • Encourages individual growth and self-improvement.
  • Provides feedback and guidance to employees.
  • Emphasizes teamwork and collaboration.

2. Collaborative management style

Collaborative management involves working with employees to achieve a common goal while promoting a healthy work environment.

This leadership style emphasizes managers getting their hands dirty and working in tandem with their team or employees. This helps build respect within your team and can help boost morale.

Collaborative management is seen in many creative industries, such as marketing, advertising, and design, where teams work closely with management to complete projects or tasks.

Collaborative management style

Key characteristics

  • Emphasizes teamwork and cooperation.
  • Encourages open communication and idea sharing.
  • Values diversity and inclusion.
  • The primary focus is on building consensus and agreement.
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3. Persuasive management style

This management style focuses on persuading employees to achieve a common goal.

The primary emphasis within this management style is to help employees understand why certain actions are needed and the reasons behind the manager's decisions. Managers use their authority and power to influence employees to adopt specific behaviors or attitudes.

The rationale behind this authority is using logic or evidence to support certain claims. It is often used when quick decisions are needed or employees lack motivation.

Persuasive management style

Key characteristics

  • Uses logic, reasoning, and emotional appeals to convince others.
  • Encourages others to see things from their perspective.
  • Often used in an environment where there may be a lack of experienced employees.

4. Authoritative management style

This style is characterized by a clear hierarchy, with the manager making all major decisions and limiting room for employee input.

The manager has complete control over the team and sets the direction for the organization by delegating tasks and providing sole clearance for all major decisions. Authoritative management is usually prevelant in large, bureaucratic organizations where clear lines of authority are needed.

While this management style may not be the favorite for employees, if a manager is highly experienced or skilled, this workflow style can be very successful. But, it can lead to employee dissatisfaction and, possibly, low morale.

Authoritative management style

Key characteristics

  • Clear and consistent direction from the manager.
  • Focuses heavily on monitoring employee work and success.
  • May be perceived as controlling or micromanaging.
  • Is often used in high-pressure situations where decisive action is needed.

5. Democratic management style

A democratic management style is a participative approach where employees or team members are involved in decision-making. This style is the flip side of the authoritative management style. It encourages open communication and involvement of everyone.

Democratic management makes the team feel more valued, trusted, and respected, increasing their motivation and commitment to achieving the company's goals.

While the democratic management style aims to be collaborative, the ultimate decisions should be heavily weighted toward the manager’s final say.

Democratic management style

Key characteristics

  • Involves seeking input and advice from employees before making decisions.
  • Emphasizes the importance of consensus and agreement.
  • Encourages participation and involvement from everyone.
  • Promotes teamwork and collaboration.

6. Consultative management style

Consultative management is a collaborative approach where the manager seeks input and advice from employees before deciding.

The manager retains final decision-making authority but encourages participation from employees. The ideology behind this is that while a manager primarily makes decisions, employees are on the ground level working in the weeds of daily activities.

A manager can then utilize this to gain different perspectives from the employees to provide input on various projects, tasks, or decisions. Employees often respond well to this management style as it offers a greater sense of value.

Consultative management style

Key characteristics

  • Involves seeking input and advice from employees.
  • Fosters a sense of ownership among employees.
  • Specialized fields of work often promote a consultative management style.

7. Visionary management style

Visionary management is a style where leaders inspire their team to strive toward a common goal while supplying a clear vision of where they want the company to be.

Visionary managers create a sense of purpose and direction, encouraging their employees to think creatively and work enthusiastically to achieve their goals.

This leadership style is one where the manager focuses on the bigger picture and not as much on the daily tasks needed to get there. While this style of management can promote clear expectations in a macro sense, it can create a disconnect with employees doing the daily tasks.

Visionary management style

Key characteristics

  • The leader has a clear future vision and can inspire others to work towards it.
  • The leader encourages creativity and experimentation among team members.
  • Communication is transparent and consistent to ensure everyone is aligned with the vision.
  • Commonly seen in leaders who hold high positions in a company and directly impact the company's overall direction.

8. Transactional management style

This management style creates clear employee expectations and intrinsically rewards them for meeting specific goals or targets.

The manager sets clear goals and rewards employees for achieving them. This style is often used in sales or commission-based environments where employees can earn more based on their success.

While this management style can be enriching for employees who can meet expectations, it can create an environment where only the best are seemingly valued in the eyes of management.

Transactional management style

Key characteristics

  • Emphasizes rewards and punishments for performance.
  • Focuses on maintaining the status quo.
  • May be seen as too rigid and inflexible.
  • Gives more attention and value to high performers.

9. Laissez-Faire management style

Laissez-Faire management is where a manager is very hands-off with employees in the daily workflow. The premise of this management style lies in giving decision-making and authority to employees.

Guidance is given where needed, but it is typically minimal and is more of a metaphorical "helping hand." This can create a sense of creativity and give power to employees working in creative or innovative environments.

Laissez-Faire management style

Key characteristics

  • Involves delegating authority and decision-making to employees.
  • Emphasizes autonomy and self-direction.
  • Can lead to creativity and innovation.
  • This may result in a lack of direction or focus.
  • Used in situations where employees are highly skilled and motivated.

10. Charismatic management style

Charismatic management heavily focuses on the manager's personality and vision. The manager inspires and motivates employees through their charisma and vision.

Employees under this type of management typically experience a greater sense of purpose in their work, derived from the manager. This style is often used in entrepreneurial organizations or startups.

Charismatic management style

Key characteristics

  • Involves inspiring and motivating others through personal charisma and vision.
  • Encourages others to follow their lead.
  • Values creativity, innovation, and risk-taking.
  • May be seen as too focused on the leader's personality.

Reasons you need to understand types of management styles

Understanding your management style will set the framework for operational efficiency, whether you are managing five people, a hundred people, or a thousand. There are a few key reasons why this is important and necessary to manage people effectively.

  • To set clear expectations for your employees on your operating style.
  • Look at your work environment and your characteristics to identify what type of management style works best for you.
  • Identifying various management styles gives you options and helps you identify the leadership style you may need to incorporate.  


In the ever-evolving world of management, having a clear vision of your management style is important. Whether you're a new manager trying to find your footing or an experienced leader looking to refine your approach, understanding different management styles is essential.

As someone who has grown up in competitive sports, I favor the coaching management style. This management style encompasses a leadership role that encourages, supports, and provides necessary feedback when needed.

This leadership style allows room to be authoritative when needed and charismatic and supportive simultaneously, making it my favorite management style.

By experimenting with different management styles and finding the one that fits you and your team best, you can unlock your full potential and succeed in any environment.

This is a guest post by Luke Lovelady

Luke is a published author, technology strategist, and creator of multiple online businesses working in the SAAS space. Luke writes about the intersection of AI, software, and tech in relation to business, writing, and creating at LukeLovelady.com. Luke is currently working for a B2B SAAS company as a Sales Development Representative.

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