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What Is Your Management Style?

There are many different management styles, but the best leaders have one thing in common: self-awareness and the desire to grow and learn. Management style is an art form that is developed over time. By taking the time to evaluate your strengths, weaknesses and overall tendencies, you can begin to strategize how you may adapt your style to better fit the needs of your company and employees. Being able to articulate what kind of manager you are is also invaluable during the interview process. For many hiring managers, the question, “What’s your management style?” is at the top of the list.

There are a number of defined management styles, and while most managers don’t — and shouldn’t — fit perfectly into any category, they serve as a good guide to help understand and cultivate your own unique approach.

  1. Autocratic.
    An autocratic manager generally makes decisions alone, without much input from their team. They exercise close control over their employees and expect subordinates to follow instructions and do their jobs without trying to think outside the box. This “my way or the highway” type of dictatorship isn’t really sustainable if your goal is to innovate and foster a team environment. However in certain situations, it can have its place. During times of crisis or in extremely urgent matters, setting clear tasks and expectations is often necessary to get the job done.
  2. Democratic.
    Just as the name implies, a democratic leader encourages employee input in decision making. This popular style of management can be extremely effective when your team is knowledgeable and well-trained. If your department is trying to solve for a specific problem, this “all hands on deck” approach can help ideate new solutions and create a sense of teamwork. If, on the other hand, your team requires a bit of hand holding, this style may prove extremely unproductive and chaotic.
  3. Coaching
    This developmental manager is dedicated to helping subordinates identify and develop their strengths and weaknesses. Their primary concern is encouraging employees to establish long-term goals and help them create a plan to achieve them. Though it can be time-consuming, coaching is an important skill that most managers should strive to incorporate into their management style.
  4. Chaotic or Laissez-Fare.
    As unorthodox as it may sound, this management style has proved effective for some of the world’s most innovative companies. A chaotic manager sets high-level goals for the company or department, but empowers employees to make their own decisions as to how to achieve them. This “move fast and break things” mentality can be effective in highly creative, fast-paced environments where innovation is the top priority or in a small, startup environment where there is very little risk. For larger, more structured companies, a chaotic management style has its place when working on smaller, less business-critical projects or when employees are highly skilled in their roles.

There are many other different management styles in today’s business world—and you’ll probably come into contact with a few of these personalities during your MBA coursework. The ones listed above should help you pinpoint how you tend to engage with employees. By integrating elements from each into your own everyday life, you can begin to develop your own unique management style.