Management style

Do you know your management style?

Do You Know Your Management Style? In this guest article, leading management authority Sean McPheat asks this and some other key questions. Such as: do you know the impact of your style on your staff? And, will you recognise your behaviour from the examples given?

In this article Sean explores the advantages and disadvantages of four different management styles. This is especially useful for people leading teams.


In psychology there is often the debate on whether our personality is inherited from our parents or shaped by our environment and experiences; the nature versus nurture argument.

The answer in the end is that it is both. We inherit approximately 50% of our DNA from our parents and 25% from our grandparents and the rest from previous ancestors. So this will have some bearing on who we are. The environment factor is responsible for behaviours too.

In terms of the way we manage, we often learn from experiences we’ve had of being managed by different people in the past. The type of occupations we’ve worked in will also have a bearing on our values and beliefs in how people should behave.

Autocratic Or Direct Management Style

People who display this style only give instructions and tell people what to do. There is little or no discussion with the employee. Managers using this method of management expect people to comply and may be unhappy and show their frustration if their directions are not acted upon.

Advantages: Good in an emergency or crisis. This may motivate people in the very short term. Often applied to new members of the team until they know what they are doing.

Disadvantages: Not a very developmental style in the long term. People will soon tire of being told what to do. They will only complete the minimum they have to do and will not bother to think for themselves. If the manager is not there they are unlikely to take any initiative that will help the manager or the organisation.

Coaching Or Participative Management Style

Managers, who use this approach to managing, tend to have more interaction with their team members. Whilst they still make the ultimate decisions they are prepared to discuss issues with their people. They consult with employees to generate ideas for dealing with certain tasks and guide them to the way they would like it done.

Advantages: Good for encouraging team members to start thinking for themselves and for the manager to check the understanding of the employee. Communication is occurring both ways and the team member can ask questions. This style is more motivating than the autocratic style above.

Disadvantages: Not so useful in an emergency if you do not have time to discuss the problem. It will of course take longer than just telling someone what to do but will have better long term benefits.

Supportive Management Style

The supportive style is often used when a manager has a good deal of confidence in the employee and is prepared to let the person have a large amount of control over their work. The support is then provided when the person in the team is struggling with an aspect of the work or in terms of their motivation to complete the task. In these situations the manager may need to remove obstacles to help the employee or find a way to motivate them.

Advantages: Good for people who generally know what they are doing and who may need some assistance from time to time. A much more hands off approach and it enables people to get on with the job. People feel more trusted and therefore motivated.

Disadvantages: Less control by the manager over what is happening and will involve a certain level of trust in the person’s ability to complete the task. This style can be challenging when the employee has lost the motivation held previously. More effort will be needed on the manager’s part but the longer term rewards are generally worth it.

Delegative Management Style

As the word suggests, this style is applied when you are prepared to delegate tasks and responsibilities with confidence knowing that you totally trust the person to make good decisions. Whilst you still retain ultimate responsibility for whether the work is carried out correctly you have completely let go of the way it will be implemented. There is very little direction except to delegate the work and explain what needs to be achieved.

Advantages: Good for letting go of certain areas of the work enabling you to focus more on being a manager and leader. It could be said that this is where you would like to be with all of your team. As a leader you will want to spend time planning ahead the strategy for moving the team forward. This will have massive rewards as you anticipate problems before they happen, develop a culture of continuous improvement and find time to keep developing your staff. You are more likely to have a better work / life balance when you reach this stage.

Disadvantages: Not effective with people who have demonstrated that they cannot be trusted. There is a danger that you could be left dealing with a bad situation that could affect the future and reputation of the business. This is not abdication and monitoring must still be carried out even if you totally trust a person you use this style with. This is because everybody is human and can make mistakes. As long as they know that the monitoring is just part of the job you will keep them on side.

These four management styles come from Ken Blanchard’s book, ‘Leadership and the One Minute Manager’. Can you recognise your natural style of managing and leading? The main point that Ken Blanchard makes is that the management style you apply, needs to be situational.

In other words you should use the style that is not only right for the individual but also for the situation they are in. In this way you can still use a direct, coaching or supportive management style with someone you usually delegate to, because the situation is right to apply this way of managing.

Author Bio: Founder and MD of international management development firm MTD Training, Sean McPheat is widely regarded as a leading authority on modern day management and leadership. Sean is a bestselling author, and has been recognised for his own business building skills through the British Business Awards. If you are interested in finding out more about your own natural style of leadership, join us on one of our management courses run in different parts of the country or invite us into your business for localised training and coaching. Click here to follow Sean online.

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