What Is Your Management Style? Learn How To Be The Best Version of Yourself

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What Is Your Management Style? How To Answer The Best Way Possible

Have you ever been asked about your management style in a job interview? Or have you ever simply wondered about your own leadership style as a form of introspection? If you’re like most of us, your answer is an easy “yes.”

The reason we encounter this question so commonly — whether in our careers or during moments of self-reflection — is because an entrepreneur's leadership style is one of the most fundamental, essential elements of their professional identity. Seeking the answer to the question “what is your management style?” is one of tmentorhe best ways to become a better version of yourself.

Let’s take a look at the characteristics that define some of the most common management styles. Familiarizing yourself with this list of management styles should make it easier for you to come up with a confident answer next time someone asks you what type of manager you are.

What Are Types of Management Styles?

There are almost as many styles of management as there are people because every person’s management style is unique to them. However, there are several types of management styles that we use to understand some of the most common ways of managing teams.

1. Autocratic Management

Under an autocratic management style, decision-making is centralized with the manager and work is delegated to other team members as the manager sees fit. This is one of the most straightforward styles of management. In some cases, an autocratic style can benefit productivity because having a single decision-maker can speed up the decision-making process.

However, the main downside of this management style is that it does not leave room for input from other team members. Even though autocratic management may streamline the decision-making process, autocratic managers often miss out on useful ideas or valuable perspectives from within their teams.

Two subcategories of autocratic management that are frequently seen in workplaces throughout many industries are the authoritative style and the persuasive style.

2. Democratic Management

Under a democratic management style, decision-making is not centralized with a single decision maker. Instead, decisions are made collaboratively, taking into account input from the entire group. 

Usually, there is still a final decision maker who signs off on everything, but this person also delegates decisions to team members and trusts them to make the right choices with a large degree of autonomy. A democratic manager will spend most of their time and effort ensuring the team is equipped to make the best decisions in their respective areas and keeping the whole team aligned toward company goals and priorities.

There are a few different ways to apply a democratic management style. Two of the most common approaches are consultative management and participative management.

In general, the advantage of a democratic management style is the ability to combine the decision-making power of a whole team of experts. However, it may not be appropriate for very large or non-specialized teams.

3. Laissez-Faire Management

A laissez-faire (French for “let it be”) management style takes a much more relaxed approach to leadership. Laissez-faire managers typically follow a hands-off model that allows their team members almost complete autonomy to manage their own work and make their own decisions.

This management style works great for affording team members the maximum amount of freedom and for encouraging innovation and creativity. By interfering minimally in team members’ tasks, laissez-faire managers also help their teams to develop a sense of ownership and pride in their individual contributions.

However, laissez-faire management doesn’t work as well when team members are inexperienced and require support, or in high-risk environments where structure and accountability are paramount.

4. Transformational Management

Transformational managers are less interested in short-term objectives and more interested in long-term team development. They prioritize the personal growth and skill development of each individual team member, and invest heavily in tools and opportunities to help their team improve.

This style of management works well for creative teams, and is often used when innovative, big-picture thinking is required more than individual deliverables. The main drawback of transformational management is that its success depends partially on the self-motivation of each team member. Some types of teams might not respond as well to being pushed in a transformational style.

5. Transactional Management

Transactional management is a management style that relies on a system of reward and punishment to motivate team members. In other words, the manager rewards team members who meet or exceed performance expectations and penalizes team members who do not.

Transactional management has a few benefits, like clearly defining what’s expected of team members. It usually works best in environments where managers are trying to minimize deviations from established processes as efficiently as possible. 

The downside of a transactional management style is that it rests on the assumption that team members are intrinsically unmotivated and cannot necessarily be trusted — not the kind of relationship most good managers want to cultivate between them and their team members.

6. Servant Leadership

Servant leadership is a style of management that emphasizes the idea that a good leader should help their team grow and thrive, not seek to control them. The core tenant of servant leadership is that it attempts to shift management interactions away from control activities and toward synergistic activities. Said another way, servant leadership is not about telling team members what to do — it’s about empowering them with the support they need to benefit the team to their maximum, unique potential.

Practicing servant leadership is a fantastic way to build strong relationships among your team members and between you and your team. However, it is usually not a style of management that’s particularly well-suited for fast decision-making.

7. Coaching Leadership

Managers who use a coaching leadership style also prioritize their team’s growth and development. However, coaching managers tend to focus on advising individual team members to help them excel at their specific roles — as opposed to taking a more holistic approach to encouraging team-wide improvement. The idea is that by coaching the team members who need it in their specific weak areas, the team as a whole will benefit.

As with any growth-oriented management style, coaching management benefits from its ability to motivate team members (and thus the team) to reach their maximum potential. However, when adopting a coaching management style, it’s very important to take active steps to prevent a toxic work environment from developing where team members feel like there are favorites or certain people who get more opportunities than others.

8. Collaborative Management

Collaborative management is a management style that opens the decision-making process to input from the whole team instead of giving decision-making power to a single leader. This can lead to greater engagement among team members because they are empowered to take ownership of the team’s decisions.

On the other hand, the downside of a collaborative management style (as with other types of management styles that involve group decisions) is that the more people involved, the slower the process usually goes. If choices need to be made quickly and decisively, a collaborative style may not be the right approach.

9. Situational Management

Situational management is a highly flexible style of management by which a leader adapts their management style to the situation at hand. Situational managers need to be very good at reading scenarios accurately and thinking on their feet.

The main advantage of situational management is that it enables managers to react quickly to changing demands in volatile, fast-paced work environments. However, managers that rely exclusively on situational leadership tactics also run the risk of undermining the team’s sense of stability and cohesiveness. When the management style is constantly changing, it’s difficult for team members to know what to expect.

10. Bureaucratic Management

Bureaucratic management is a style of management that was theorized and developed by the German sociologist Max Weber. Through his observations of American industrial capitalism in the early 20th century, Weber concluded that bureaucracy was the most efficient means by which to run a business — and many business managers today still agree.

The purpose of a bureaucratic management style is to create a tightly structured business-wide system of organization in the interest of streamlining decision-making and productivity. Under a bureaucratic system of management, roles within the company are divided hierarchically and responsibilities are delegated according to teams’ areas of expertise. All members of the organization are treated equally and all advancement is based on merit and relevant qualifications.

While bureaucratic management does often help to improve transparency and clarity throughout an organization, too much focus on bureaucracy can also bog a business down with cumbersome red tape and unnecessary hoops for team members to jump through.

How To Answer The Question “What Is Your Management Style?”

It’s natural to feel unsure how to answer when someone asks you about your management style. Few of us would be able to provide a good answer without extensive preparation. To make sure you’re ready the next time you’re faced with this question in an interview (or anywhere in life), consider these 4 simple steps to crafting a response:

1. Establish What “Good Management” Is

There are practically countless ways to define a good manager. The first component of your answer to the question “what is your management style?” should be to establish how you define a “good manager.” What skills should a good manager have? What responsibilities should they prioritize? How should they interact with or motivate their team members?

2. Add Your Personal Touch

Next, draw attention to a unique trait or ability of yours that fits the definition of good management that you’ve just provided. For example, you might highlight a way you regularly go above and beyond to support your team, or bring up an interesting insight you’ve learned about how to navigate interpersonal conflicts at work.

3. Provide an Example

Then, provide a specific example that showcases what makes you a good leader. Try to use this as a chance to back up the personal touch you just provided. For instance, if your personal touch was to mention that you frequently go above and beyond to support your team members, follow it up with a specific, recent example of when you did so.

4. Finish with a Relevant Connection

Even once you’ve given a great answer, it’s very easy to end on a lackluster: “so… yeah.” To make sure you nail the landing, finish by connecting your answer back to the role you’re interviewing for or the larger theme of the discussion. For example, if you’re interviewing for a manager position, you might end by reiterating that your experience going above and beyond to support your current team members is one of the reasons that you believe you’re so well-suited for the available role.

What Type of Leader Are You? Find Out With Help From an Expert

These 10 management style examples should set you on the right track as you consider your own style of leadership. However, determining your management style is not a quick and easy task — it’s more like a lengthy journey of self-discovery. To help you along the way, you can access personal insights from experienced leadership experts who will explore your management style with you and show you how to leverage your natural skills to become a better leader.

Get 1:1 advice from strategist expert

Chris Yeh

Chris Yeh

Partner - Blitzscaling Ventures
Co-Author of Blitzscaling

Blitzscaling Ventures
Harvard Business School

Chris Yeh is a writer, investor, and entrepreneur who has been in the world of startups and scale-ups since 1995. Co-author of the bestselling book Blitzscaling together with LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman, Chris offers advice and mentorship on on how to build and scale your business. Hundreds of companies, from garage-dwelling startups to Fortune 50 titans have tapped his knowledge and insights to accelerate and transform their businesses. As the Founding Partner of Blitzscaling Ventures, he helps founders rapidly scale their companies, fundraise and figure out how to crack new markets. Prior to his investing journey, he was the CMO of Target, and started his career as a PM at D.E. Shaw in the 90s.

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Itay Forer

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Itay Forer is the co-founder of Cleanly, an on-demand laundry & dry cleaning service backed by YCombinator (W15), Initialized Capital, Soma Capital, Paul Buchheit (creator of Gmail), and NFL legend Joe Montana. He is a serial entrepreneur, board member, mentor/coach, and active angel investor who has built a startup from the ground up to a 400+ person workforce. Specializes in PMF and scaling companies from 0 to 10. As a mentor, he has helped over 200 founders realize their full potential.

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Dan Bauer

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Marketing and Strategy Expert

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