12 Types of Management Styles [with Examples]

When navigating the world of management, it’s important to understand the various leadership styles that you can adopt. Knowing these unique approaches will allow you to select the most effective method to motivate and guide your team towards success. In this article, we will explore twelve different management styles, along with real-world examples to help you grasp their practical applications.

From autocratic to collaborative, each management style comes with its unique advantages and challenges. As a leader, your ultimate goal is to create an environment that promotes productivity, creativity, and satisfaction among your team members. By identifying the most appropriate leadership style for you and your team, you can successfully accomplish this while also fostering a positive work atmosphere.

As you dive into the different styles, keep in mind that you’re not limited to just one approach – you can mix and match, or even adapt your style to fit specific situations. With this flexibility, you’ll have a valuable set of management tools at your disposal, empowering you to become the best leader you can be for your organization.

See also: Qualities and Values of 10 Leadership Styles

What Is Visionary Leadership? 7 Traits of a Visionary Leader
Charismatic Leadership: The Good, Bad, and Best Practices
What Is Transformational Leadership?
What Is Democratic Leadership?
What is Affiliative Leadership? The “People First” Approach
5 Main Principles of Laissez-Faire Leadership
What is Servant Leadership? 5 Must-Have Principles
What is Strategic Leadership? [Pros and Cons]

Autocratic Management Style

Autocratic management is a leadership style where the manager makes decisions with little or no input from team members. This approach allows you, the leader, to dictate work methods and processes while keeping full control over decisions and important tasks. However, this style may leave your employees feeling like they aren’t trusted with decision-making or vital responsibilities. Some of the primary characteristics of autocratic leadership include:

  • Making most, if not all, decisions without consultation
  • Dominating the decision-making process
  • Having the ability to dictate work methods and processes
  • Maintaining strict control over their team

Example of Autocratic Management Style

Imagine you run a manufacturing company and are tasked with increasing production efficiency. As an autocratic leader, you might make all decisions regarding the production process, such as work methods, schedules, and quality control, without seeking input from your employees. You may also take charge of day-to-day operations and offer precise instructions to each team member to ensure the desired outcome.

While this management style can help you make quick decisions and maintain discipline within the team, it may also hinder creativity and enthusiasm among your employees.

To effectively use the autocratic management style, consider the following tips:

  1. Identify situations where quick decision-making and strict control are necessary
  2. Communicate your expectations clearly and ensure your team understands the rationale behind your decisions
  3. Provide feedback and be open to receiving feedback from your employees, even though you ultimately make the final decision

Democratic Management Style

In a democratic management style, you focus on involving team members in the decision-making process, encouraging collaboration, and promoting open communication. This type of management style fosters creativity and engagement by ensuring everyone’s input is valued and considered. This section will provide you with an example of democratic management in action, so you can better understand it in practice.

Example of Democratic Management Style

Imagine a marketing team at a tech company is brainstorming ideas for their next campaign. As the team manager, you choose to employ a democratic management style. This means you invite all team members to participate in the brainstorming session, regardless of their position or expertise.

First, you establish a welcoming environment to make everyone feel comfortable sharing their ideas. By doing this, you create a space for open dialogue and collaboration among team members. As the discussion progresses, various ideas are presented and considered, and you make sure that everyone has an opportunity to speak and contribute.

After the meeting, you gather the ideas and encourage team members to vote on the most suitable ones. Once the votes are in, you discuss the results with your team and collectively decide on the winning idea. Importantly, with democratic approach, all team members feel involved and committed to the chosen concept, which can lead to a more successful outcome.

In summary, the democratic management style empowers your team members and fosters a sense of ownership in decision-making. By involving everyone and considering diverse perspectives, you can develop creative and effective solutions to various challenges in your organization.

Laissez-faire Management Style

The laissez-faire management style, also known as delegative leadership, is a hands-off approach where leaders allow team members to make their own decisions. This style tends to result in the lowest productivity levels among group members when compared to other management styles.

As a laissez-faire leader, your main focus is to create an environment where your team can work independently without much supervision. This approach is best suited for self-motivated teams that excel at working individually, and in scenarios where team members have a high level of expertise in their fields.

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Example of Laissez-Faire Management Style

Imagine you oversee a team of skilled graphic designers who have been tasked with creating a new visual identity for a client. Since they are all experienced and creative, you might consider adopting a laissez-faire management style. This would allow each designer to contribute their unique ideas and expertise without feeling constrained by micromanagement.

In this situation, you would provide resources and support but leave the specifics of the project up to the team members. You may offer guidance and advice when asked, but ultimately, trust their abilities to get the job done effectively.

However, it’s important to decide when a laissez-faire approach is suitable and when a more hands-on management style is needed. If you encounter situations where team members are struggling, lack clear direction, or need more guidance, being aware of alternative management styles can be beneficial to ensure success.

Transformational Management Style

As a transformational leader, you inspire and motivate your team to reach their highest potential. You do this by fostering a sense of purpose and building a supportive environment.

With this management style, you focus on the needs and abilities of your team, helping them develop their skills and abilities. This is achieved by setting goals, guiding them through challenges, and providing them with opportunities for growth.

Example of Transformational Management Style

Barack Obama, the former U.S. President, is an example of a transformational leader. He was known for unifying, motivating, and hopeful communication, as well as his approach to running his administration.

Your main goal in adopting a transformational management style is to create a positive, progressive work culture that encourages innovation, growth, and development. To do this, you can follow these steps:

  • Effectively communicate your vision and goals for the team
  • Empower your team members to take ownership of their roles and responsibilities
  • Encourage creativity and problem-solving among your employees
  • Offer guidance and support to your team as they tackle challenges

Transactional Management Style

Transactional management focuses on achieving short-term goals by rewarding or punishing your team members based on their performance. By establishing clear expectations, you create an environment where team members know exactly what is required of them to earn rewards or avoid penalties.

This management style is effective in industries with straightforward tasks and measurable goals, such as sales, where performance can be easily quantified. However, it might not be as suitable for creative fields, like advertising or marketing, which demand flexibility and innovation from employees.

Example of Transactional Management Style

Imagine you’re leading a sales team and want to boost the number of calls booked per week. To encourage higher performance, you could offer a small bonus for the team member who books the most calls at the end of each sales cycle. This approach relies on the principles of transactional management, as it uses rewards to motivate individuals to achieve specific targets.

Keep in mind, however, that not everyone is motivated by rewards and punishments. To make this leadership style more effective, you may need to adjust your approach based on each team member’s preferences and motivations. Alternatively, consider incorporating elements from other leadership styles, such as coaching or transformational, to foster long-term growth and development in your team.

Servant Leadership Management Style

Servant leadership is a management style where you, as a leader, prioritize the needs and well-being of your team members before your own. Your primary objective is to serve and help your team reach their full potential. This leadership approach focuses on building strong relationships, fostering a supportive environment, and empowering your team members to be their best.

In this management style, effective listening and empathy are highly valued. As a servant leader, you should seek to understand your team members’ perspectives and feelings, providing support when necessary. You must also focus on nurturing a positive workplace culture that encourages collaboration and trust.

Example of Servant Leadership

Imagine you’re managing a software development team. As a servant leader, you prioritize the well-being and growth of your team members. You regularly check in with them to understand their challenges, offer guidance, and celebrate their achievements. Instead of focusing on individual accomplishments, you emphasize teamwork and collaboration, guiding the team towards a shared goal.

When faced with a critical deadline, you take the time to understand the potential roadblocks your team might encounter. You work closely with them to find ways to overcome these challenges while maintaining a healthy work-life balance. By doing so, you demonstrate your commitment to your team’s well-being and show them that their success is your top priority.

Embracing the principles of servant leadership, such as listening, empathy, healing, and stewardship, can help you become an effective servant leader. Incorporating these principles into your management approach will benefit not only your team members but also the overall success of your organization.

Charismatic Management Style

As the name implies, the charismatic management style is about harnessing the power of a leader’s charisma to inspire and motivate team members. This management style can yield high levels of employee engagement and create a work environment where people are eager to contribute their best efforts.

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Charismatic leaders often possess strong communication skills and a natural ability to captivate their audience. They are known for their ability to connect with people on an emotional level, which can help build trust and loyalty among team members.

Example of Charismatic Management Style

Steve Jobs, the former CEO of Apple, is a well-known example of a charismatic leader in the business world. His powerful presentations and ability to inspire his team led to the creation of groundbreaking products that changed the way people interact with technology. Another great example is Oprah Winfrey, who has built an empire based on her ability to connect with people emotionally, both through her talk show and her various philanthropic and business ventures. Her success can be attributed to her exceptional emotional intelligence and ability to relate to others.

In practice, utilizing this type of management style means that, as a leader, you should focus on fostering a high-energy and positive work environment. You can achieve this by engaging in regular face-to-face interactions with your team, sharing your vision and ideas passionately, and actively seeking input from your team members. Make sure to highlight the strengths and achievements of each individual, creating a sense of pride and unity within the group.

Bureaucratic Management Style

As you continue exploring management styles, the Bureaucratic Management Style emerges as another option. This style adheres to strict rules and procedures, ensuring that everyone follows a standardized approach to their work. Bureaucratic management is often found in large organizations or institutions where there is a clear hierarchy, and it can bring stability and consistency when applied effectively.

In a bureaucratic management setting, employees are expected to follow the rules and regulations set by the organization, with little opportunity for individual creativity or decision-making. This can lead to increased efficiency and predictability, but it may also limit innovation and employee engagement in some cases.

Example of Bureaucratic Management Style

Consider a large government agency that manages public services. In this type of organization, there would likely be a strict hierarchy with each employee having specific responsibilities and clear reporting lines. The bureaucratic management style is feasible in this context because it allows the organization to coordinate a vast number of employees and ensure that operations run smoothly and consistently.

As a manager in such an organization, your role would involve enforcing the established rules, policies, and procedures. You would also be responsible for making sure that your team members are aware of their specific duties and the expectations placed upon them. In this scenario, maintaining control and adhering to the established structure would be of paramount importance.

In summary, the Bureaucratic Management Style is well-suited to large organizations or institutions where there is a need for structure, consistency, and strict adherence to policies and procedures. While this style may limit innovation and employee engagement in some cases, it can lead to increased efficiency and predictability when applied effectively.

Pacesetting Management Style

In the pacesetting management style, you, as a leader, set the pace for your team by demonstrating high performance and quality expectations. This results-oriented style of leadership encourages your team members to match or even exceed the standards you’ve shown to them.

Characteristics of Pacesetting Management Style

Some key characteristics of the pacesetting management style include:

  • High-performance standards
  • A strong emphasis on meeting deadlines
  • Self-regulation and persistence
  • Proactive identification of trends and opportunities

Overall, the pacesetting management style focuses on achieving excellence through setting high expectations and leading by example.

Example of pacesetting management style

In a software development company, a pacesetting manager might be known for consistently delivering high-quality projects ahead of schedule. This manager might set strict timelines and hold their team to them, expecting nothing less than optimal performance. The manager would guide their team by demonstrating excellent work habits.

Not only is this management style potentially beneficial in terms of productivity and output, but it can also be a vehicle for fostering an environment of healthy competition and continuous improvement. However, using the pacesetting management style exclusively may not be suitable for every situation or team member. Balancing different leadership styles can help you adapt to various circumstances and address the distinct needs of every team member.

Coaching Management Style

In the coaching management style, you, as the manager, see yourself as a coach and your employees as valuable members of your team. Your primary focus is to guide and develop your team, putting their professional development at the forefront of your priorities. This approach helps you build strong relationships with your team members, enabling them to reach their full potential.

Example of Coaching Management Style

One well-known leader who embodies the coaching management style is Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft. When Nadella took over as CEO, Microsoft was experiencing a period of stagnation. He encouraged employees to adopt a growth mindset and focused on nurturing their skills and talents.

Nadella’s coaching approach led to a significant shift in Microsoft’s culture, resulting in more collaboration and innovation. Under his leadership, Microsoft returned to a position of substantial growth and success.

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Here are some strategies and techniques that you can apply in your own coaching management style:

  • Set clear expectations and goals for your team members
  • Provide regular feedback and constructive criticism
  • Encourage open communication and active listening
  • Help your team members identify and develop their strengths
  • Offer support and resources for improving their skills
  • Empower your employees to take ownership of their work and make decisions

Visionary Management Style

The visionary management style is about inspiring and leading your team with a clear, long-term vision to achieve great results. As a visionary leader, you communicate the vision in such a way that your team understands and feels motivated to work towards it. This management strategy is highly effective for driving organizational change and fostering innovation.

As a visionary manager, you excel at seeing the big picture and anticipating future needs. This style works best when your team members have the skills and experience needed to achieve the vision but may require guidance and motivation to stay focused and committed to the goal.

Example of Visionary Management Style

An example of a visionary leader is Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple Inc. He utilized a visionary management style to inspire his team to create groundbreaking products and redefine the technological landscape. Under his leadership, Apple became known for its constant innovation and focus on the user experience, resulting in the creation of iconic products such as the iPhone, iPad, and MacBook.

As a visionary manager, consider focusing on the following strategies:

  • Clearly communicating your vision to your team and articulating its importance
  • Encouraging team members to actively participate in decision-making and contribute their ideas
  • Recognizing and rewarding creativity and innovation
  • Providing support and coaching when necessary to help your team grow and develop
  • Consistently reevaluating and refining your vision to stay ahead of the competition

When implementing a visionary management style, it’s essential to strike a balance between sharing your vision and allowing your team to utilize their expertise in achieving it.

Affiliative Management Style

The affiliative management style is a relationship-focused approach aimed at creating a harmonious work environment, fostering collaboration, and prioritizing the well-being of team members. This style is effective in building a loyal, cohesive, and supportive team. As a manager using the affiliative management style, you emphasize empathy, nurturing relationships, and clear communication. You genuinely care about your team members and prioritize their personal and professional growth.

Example of Affiliative Management Style

Imagine you’re managing a team through a challenging period, such as the aftermath of an unsuccessful project or a significant change in the organization. As an affiliative manager, you prioritize rebuilding team morale and strengthening connections between team members.

You might consider organizing a team-building retreat, ensuring that your team understands their strengths and how they complement each other. By creating a supportive and nurturing environment, you encourage team members to open up, share their concerns, and find creative solutions together.

Here are some key affiliative behaviors:

  • Actively listening to team members and valuing their perspectives
  • Focusing on conflict resolution and fostering a safe space for open discussions
  • Organizing regular team social events, such as monthly dinners or lunches, to encourage bonding
  • Offering personalized mentoring and career coaching opportunities

Taking an affiliative approach can lead to long-lasting trust, improved morale, and a more resilient team. Just remember to balance this style with other management approaches to ensure the overall success of your team and organization.


In this article, you’ve explored 12 different types of management styles and their respective examples. As you’ve seen, each style has its own unique advantages and drawbacks, making them suitable for various situations and organizational environments.

As a manager or a leader, it is essential to recognize the importance of adapting your management style to the specific needs of your team and organization. Having a deep understanding of these diverse approaches enables you to be more flexible and effective. By considering the benefits and drawbacks of each style, you can make more informed decisions.

Keep in mind that there is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to management styles. Instead, the most successful managers often combine elements from multiple styles, creating a hybrid approach tailored to their unique circumstances.

Remember to be open-minded and continually assess the effectiveness of your management approach. Be willing to learn from your experiences and make adjustments.

Learn more:

Qualities and Values of 10 Leadership Styles

What Is Visionary Leadership? 7 Traits of a Visionary Leader
Charismatic Leadership: The Good, Bad, and Best Practices
What Is Transformational Leadership?
What Is Democratic Leadership?
What is Affiliative Leadership? The “People First” Approach
5 Main Principles of Laissez-Faire Leadership
What is Servant Leadership? 5 Must-Have Principles
What is Strategic Leadership? [Pros and Cons]

Posted in: Improvement, Leadership