Management Styles

Management Styles In the world of business, there are a lot of different ways to approach every single management issue you could encounter. While much of how you react to work-related issues will depend on the specific issue at hand, there are larger things that also play a part in how you will react. Managers around the world understand that different situations call for different styles of management. As a result, a system has been developed whereby a manager can utilize different "styles" to direct employees to a basic goal.

The Major Styles of Management

While there are many different ways to approach any managerial issue, there are two major overall styles of management that all other styles branch from. These are known as the "autocratic" and "permissive" styles of management, and they are considered to be parent styles. Obviously, parent style refers to the role they play as the original point from where all other managerial styles stem.

Autocratic Management

An autocratic management style is characterized by a manager making all decisions for the business in a unilateral way. This requires no input from hourly or salaried employees. In extreme cases where the autocratic style of management is used, even higher-level management is not considered when decisions are being made. This is generally a style that is used when immediate and necessary decisions need to be made that impact the welfare of the company.

Permissive Management

With a permissive management style, managers provide employees with autonomy and responsibility to carry out tasks. These are almost always day-to-day tasks that don't have an immediate impact on the life of the business. Employees may also be brought into the decision-making process when it comes to making important changes around the business. They may also be given the responsibility to manage people under them within a department.

Mixing Styles for Different Needs

These two major styles of management are an excellent starting point, but neither extreme will be useful for all types of business situations. In most cases, the extreme versions of these styles are rarely ever the right choice. A mixture of these two major styles is most often used, and the specific mixture will depend heavily on the type of issue being faced. While attempting to maintain an image of consistency, a manager needs to know when and how to best apply subtle changes to these management styles.

The Directive Democrat

The directive democrat style is one that engages the manager with subordinates without relinquishing too much control over day-to-day operations. The manager may actively participate in a sales meeting or inventory count, providing direction where necessary. When decisions need to be made, they are made in a participatory fashion that allows subordinates to feel as though they are engaged in the process.

Permissive Democrat

This is very similar to the directive democrat style, but it provides employees with a wider berth in terms of decision-making. With the permissive democrat style of management, employees are allowed to make a number of decisions on their own while the manager actively participates as a guide. While he or she may be guiding employees, he or she will not be directly influencing the actions of employees unless it is expressly necessary.

Directive Autocrat

Unlike the directive democrat, the directive autocrat takes complete control over the decisions and actions of employees. Decisions are made unilaterally and the employees are overseen directly and with great control by the manager.

Permissive Autocrat

As with the directive autocrat, the permissive autocrat makes decisions unilaterally without input from employees. However, unlike the directive autocrat, the permissive autocrat will allow employees to provide much of their own direction. In these cases, the manager makes all decisions unilaterally, but allows employees to reach the goals set by management in their own way.

The Four Quadrants of Situational Leadership

As mentioned earlier, there is no way to encapsulate the entirety of business relations within to or four rigidly defined boundaries. Business is a fluid environment that presents unique challenges to managers on a daily basis. Due to this, management needs to have a firm grasp of how to best react and adapt to the situations they are presented with. This is where the Four Quadrants of Situational Leadership come into play.


When employees know what you want and are motivated, but just don't know how to get there. This is a mode of managing that requires more guidance than simple management. This is a style you use when your employees don't really need much support, but they do need a lot of guidance to complete the task.


Delegating is something you can do when your employees are motivated to accomplish something and they know how to do it. Unlike the "selling" quadrant, you won't need to provide much or any real support to the staff as they complete the task. You can simply delegate responsibilities to people and move on.


Sometimes, employees know how to do something but are grossly under-motivated to do it. With the participatory quadrant, you are taking an active roll in inspiring and motivating your employees to accomplish the tasks you set out for them. When you participate, it is easier to support them and help them get the job done efficiently.


This is the most engaged of the quadrants, and it is reserved only for employees who are both untrained in what to do and not highly motivated to accomplish the task. To remedy the issue, a manager will take an active and participatory roll in accomplishing the task set forth.

Manage Teams Efficiently

Managing a team of employees is no small task, and it requires constant vigilance. When you understand how to best utilize these managerial styles to your advantage, you're doing a lot to ensure you will always have a smoothly-running business. As with most things in business, management styles are all about degrees. Using the right style and degree of intensity can be the most important thing to keep in mind while motivating employees.