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Which Management Style Is Best For Your Organisation?

In the main there are maybe just four general management styles, although other studies include combinations of one or more in a new style or two. Each style has its own advantages and disadvantages, and may fit the same situation differently but may be the appropriate approach under certain conditions.

Autocratic. This style is a downward type of management where the manager makes all the decisions and simply orders his subordinates on what to do. While many management experts believe this style is obsolete since this is often equated with being dictatorial (which it resembles closely), still, it offers certain benefits when used:

Quick decisions. Since only the manager decides things, decision is fast and unquestionable.

Quick action. Just follow the directions, and ask no questions.

Decisive. The boss says ‘Do it’, so do it.

This type is often effective in managing much unskilled labor and in conditions where there is no room for discussions of the course of action, such as in military and military-type organizations. Two kinds of autocratic manager are recognized: the directive autocrat, who simply orders people what to do, and the permissive autocrat, who, though he also directs people, nevertheless allows a certain leeway on his subordinates on how they will execute the directives.

Democratic. Here the manager consults with the employees or workers, informally or formally, to reach decisions that affect the organization. Communications is two-way, managers seeking the opinions of their subordinates for consensus or majority view, but final decision is still reserved s prerogative for the management side, despite contrary opinion from the lower ecehlons. The subordinates are given freedom to participate in decision-making, encouraged to enhance their leadership capabilities and become part of the whole endeavor. Thus the subordinates identify more closely with the organization and get better motivated, resulting to improved performance.

Paternalistic. This is similar to the autocratic style because decisions are unilateral and flow only in the downward direction, although unlike the autocratic, it also considers the interest of the subordinates.More of an Asian version of management, the paternalistic style holds the organization as a family, with the manager as the father. Conflicts are handled by the manager as a personal duty, and communication is likewise much on the personal level. Thus employee or the subordinates’ loyalty is generated and motivation remains constant and strong even through difficult times.

Laissez-faire. More like management-by-objectives, this style allows much latitude —even autonomy for some— for the subordinates to perform their duties. It places greater responsibilities on the subordinates who, nevertheless, were the ones who set their own goals in the context of the company objectives. It fits organizations with diverse divisional directions such as creative enterprises, as long as its leader inspires the entrepreneurial subordinates. Otherwise, this style can lead to a fragmented group with perhaps mutually-conflicting components.

All that being said, experts agree there is no management style perfect for all organizations. In most cases, managers always employ different styles under different circumstances, finding one or another that can be effective for the particular moment.

This was a post by Julian from Bourton, specialists in operational excellence.


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