Management styles

As a manager, how you handle different situations in your business will depend on the style of management you use. Being a good manager involves more than just telling people what to do — it also involves choosing the right approach and management style to suit the situation.

The following 4 management styles are the most common used in business. While democratic management is often the preferred style, other styles can also be useful. It is important to understand which style you use and to recognise that you may use different styles depending on the situation.

Democratic or participative management

The manager consults their team before making decisions, while still maintaining overall control. Team leaders decide how tasks will be addressed, and who will perform them, while never losing sight of the fact that the manager bears ultimate responsibility.


  • Consultation among teams can identify problems early.
  • Good communication benefits staff morale.


  • Too much consultation can be time-consuming and reduce business productivity.
  • Sometimes employees want a manager to make decisions for them.

Bureaucratic management

Bureaucratic managers like to make sure team members follow rules and procedures accurately and consistently. They expect staff to display a formal, business-like attitude in the workplace and to respect a strict chain of command, with the manager having final say in all decisions. This style can be effective in situations where safety is paramount.


  • This approach can maintain high quality standards in situations that require great attention to detail.


  • It discourages independence and creativity among employees, sometimes leading to resentment, absenteeism and staff turnover.
  • It can reduce longer-term productivity as employees become bored with their work.

Autocratic management

This is a dictatorial style, where the person in charge has total authority and control over decision-making. They control the work of the team, and monitor the completion of each task under close scrutiny to ensure everything is completed on schedule and exactly to plan. This style can be an effective way to safely navigate periods of stress or crisis.


  • Some people like to be told exactly what to do.


  • It can frustrate employees who prefer to have some control over their own work.
  • It can stifle creative and innovative ideas in a business.

Laissez-faire management

This is a 'hands off' approach, where the manager leaves their team to get on with the job themselves. The leader delegates many decisions.


  • It gives employees a sense of empowerment and fulfilment.
  • It can foster creativity and innovation.


  • It requires staff to be responsible and committed to their work.
  • Problems may go undetected for some time until they become serious.

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