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What’s Your Management Style? Here’s How to Find Out–And Why it Matters

by FrankCrum on July 20, 2022

As a manager, your responsibilities in an organization are vast and your job is demanding.

More than task delegators, resource allocators, or crisis handlers, managers hold the keys to unlocking the fullest potential of the teams they lead.

And much of their success comes down to how they choose to lead.

Today, we’ll take a closer look at the importance of management styles, including:

  • What they are
  • The benefit of understanding your management style
  • How to identify them & decide which one is best for you
  • The five most common styles of leadership

What are Management Styles?

Management styles are different approaches to leadership that an individual in an organization may utilize.

These different tactics shape and guide how managers interact with their direct reports, navigate challenging situations, and ultimately strive to achieve certain business goals.

What is the Benefit of Understanding Your Management Style?

Knowing the management style that most closely aligns with your actions is critical to your success as a leader.

For one thing, it helps you understand how you are perceived by your employees. Employees and management rely on one another for success, so tuning in to how a particular leadership strategy may be received by employees can be extremely valuable.

A firm grasp of your management style also helps with employee loyalty. When your workers have a solid understanding of the type of business leader you are, it gives them confidence in your ability to successfully steer the ship and problem solve effectively.

Lastly, it’s a critical step in understanding how to best achieve your business goals. With a solid comprehension of how you lead, you can capitalize on your strengths and ultimately master the best tactics for unifying your team behind your business objectives.

How Can You Determine Your Leadership Style and Identify Which One is Best for You?

To identify your current leadership style and/or one that will work best for you, you will need to start with some introspection.

Start by asking yourself some questions about yourself as a manager:

  • How do I engage with my employees?
  • How does my personality play into my employees’ perceptions of me?
  • What kinds of advice or guidance do I provide for my team?
  • How are decisions made in my workplace?
  • How do I respond to challenges?

Then, consider what you’d like to see in your workplace and what your current needs are:

  • How do I want my employees to view me: As a mentor/coach, or as more of an authority figure?
  • What kind of results do I want from my team: Is quality or quantity more of a focus for our business right now?
  • What kind of culture do I want to create: one with lots of organization and structure, or one that gives employees more freedom and autonomy?
  • How would I like workplace decisions to be made?

Answering these questions can help you identify the style of leadership you naturally employ, evaluate its strengths and weaknesses, and determine if other styles of management would benefit your organization in varying circumstances.

Now, we’ll dive into five of the most common leadership styles. Consider some of the questions above as we do this to find out which style is most closely aligned with your own and which supports the sort of workplace you'd like to create.

5 Common Types of Management Styles

There are many styles of management, each with its advantages and drawbacks. Let’s take a look at five of the most popular and examine the characteristics, employee responses, and pros & cons of each.

1. Autocratic

Definition: Autocratic leadership is a management style in which the leader holds all of the decision-making power.

Characteristics: Autocratic leaders like to differentiate themselves from their direct reports. They value rigid structure and prioritize hierarchy in the workplace as a means of obtaining respect and maintaining order.

Employee Perception: Employees are often very efficient under an autocratic management style but tend to feel demoralized and undervalued in the long term due to their lack of engagement in decision-making processes.

Pros: Autocratic management can be a useful tool for maximizing employee output and business productivity. It is an approach commonly used in crisis management situations where productivity must take precedence above all else.

Cons: On the other hand, long-term use of an autocratic style can lead to unmotivated employees, ultimately yielding high turnover rates and a lack of innovation in the workplace.

2. Laissez-Faire

Definition: Laissez-Faire leadership is the complete opposite of autocratic leadership: In this management style, employees are given full control over their responsibilities, priorities, and time management.

Characteristics: Laissez-faire leaders make themselves available for guidance or advice on-demand. They act as mentors rather than authority figures and tend to remain hands-off unless/until prompted to engage in a situation.

Employee Perception: Employees are generally glad to be entrusted with autonomy in the workplace; however, they can feel neglected by managers who fail to check-in. Employees are also prone to frustration when their manager is so hands-off that they fail to communicate their expectations.

Pros: Studies show that employee autonomy is linked to increased job satisfaction. This type of manager is also effective in workplaces with veteran employees who have a high degree of mastery in their craft and don’t require much managerial oversight. The laissez-faire leadership approach also tends to promote free-thinking and creativity, making it useful in industries and scenarios where this is desirable.

Cons: On the other hand, a lack of direction can potentially lead to frustration, misunderstandings, and feelings of abandonment. Laissez-faire managers also run the risk of hindered employee productivity if their workforce is not unified behind a central objective.

3. Democratic

Definition: Democratic leadership is a style in which employees are asked to participate in decision-making.

Characteristics: Democratic leaders understand and appreciate the voice of their employees. While these managers retain the final say in all decisions, they invite their employees to participate in workplace choices and emphasize the value of their input.

Employee Perception: Employees under democratic leadership feel valued by their managers. They can sense that their superiors value employee input and weigh it alongside their own opinions. Employee morale also tends to be high because decisions are largely decided by a majority vote, meaning that most employees will be satisfied with the outcome.

Pros: Democratic management styles are generally good for employee morale as it gives them a sense of self-worth and allows them to remain engaged and invested in their workplace. It is also a good way of strengthening your problem-solving process: By asking employees to weigh in, you’re opening up the potential for more varied responses and potential solutions to a situation.

Cons: Holding a popular vote is a more time-consuming process than making decisions singlehandedly, so business productivity can be hindered while waiting for resolution. And if managed improperly, managers can end up making their own decisions anyway…lending a sense of mistrust to their employees.

4. Coaching

Definition: Coaching is a style of management in which leaders take on the role of encouraging, supporting, and motivating their teams.

Characteristics: Managers who lead by coaching are enthusiastic and most excited by their employees’ growth. Watching their team succeed is what makes them happiest, and they are energized both by employees’ individual wins and by the collaborative successes of their team. Coaching leaders will spend one-on-one time with their employees and will encourage their participation in things like professional development to help them achieve their personal best.

Employee Perception: Employees are motivated to be better teammates and to make their manager proud. They also tend to have a strong bond and high level of trust with managers who act as coaches.

Pros: Leaders who coach can form close-knit bonds in the workplace while fostering a community that strives for continual growth. Their employees are invested in their work and feel a sense of job satisfaction as a result.

Cons: While coaching as a management style can establish strong bonds, it also has the potential to create tension in the workplace among competitive employees. Moreover, this management style has a very long-term focus, so if immediate results are required, it may not be the right time to implement this strategy.

5. Transformational

Definition: Transformational leadership is a strategy that prioritizes constant progress and evolution in a business.

Characteristics: Continual growth and employee development are at the forefront of the transformational leadership mindset. These managers are perpetually looking for ways to push their teams beyond their comfort zones by promoting more ambitious goalsetting.

Employee Perception: Employee morale is generally very high in transformative workplaces; workers feel challenged and motivated by their managers, who convey a strong belief in their employees’ potential. This inspires teams to go above and beyond and to feel intensely dedicated to their work.

Pros: Transformational leaders instill enthusiasm and excitement in their team members, with their desire to stay on the cutting edge. In the pursuit of constant progress, they allow their employees to learn and grow along the way, which yields a higher level of excitement and passion in the workplace.

Cons: Trying to constantly innovate can result in pushing employees to their limits and biting off more than they can chew. A workplace with this kind of leadership mentality also requires a particular type of employee: namely, one who is enthusiastic about change and trying new things. Otherwise, you run the risk of overwhelming them.

Final Thoughts

Understanding different management styles and identifying which one most closely aligns with you is a critical step in becoming the best leader you can be.

But we understand that you have enough on your plate as it is. The time it takes to evaluate and change workplace habits can be overwhelming, especially when other managerial duties demand your attention.

That’s where we can help. FrankCrum’s dedicated team of experienced HR professionals is here to lighten your load with any of your administrative tasks, from payroll to benefits to workers' compensation and much more.

Contact us today to learn more about how our team can support your efforts to become the best manager you can be.



FrankCrum is a professional employer organization (PEO), founded in 1981 dedicated to helping business owners boost HR capabilities and broaden convenient services and benefits to employees. The origin of FrankCrum dates back to 1981, when Frank W. Crum, Jr. and his father, Frank Crum, Sr., founded the Great American Temporary Service. With a passion for helping small business owners succeed, the company has evolved and grown over several decades.