There are lots of clearly defined management styles but in this section I will discuss the seven most common. These are autocratic, consultative, persuasive, democratic, chaotic, laissez-faire and transformational. Each management style has its own benefits and drawback (some have more such as chaotic) but they differ in effectiveness in different environments. The first main management style is autocratic.
Autocratic management is best defined as the manager telling the team what to do based on their views, history, past successes and failures and opinion of how things should be. This style of management usually stifles creativity and personal expression in a team, with team members usually facing criticism if the deviate from the plan the manager has set. Team members are mostly motivated through fear of consequences or conflict with the manager. Further to this usually team members are wholly dependent on the manager for the tools to do their job and indeed doing the job itself. There are usually very clear and set processes to follow and feedback from the team member is not often used to shape policy. Any feedback this is given and accepted is often repackaged as being first thought of by the manager. These types of managers will usually be self-promoters and will value their career and success over individual success and progress of members of the team. This can manifest in high turnover and little engagement from the team as they can feel expendable and not key to the overall success. A manager in this style will also likely take praise for himself but blame the failure of a task on his team rather than accept accountability that they control most of the environment and process and that any failure can be traced back to them not taking advice in how best to complete a task. Progress of the company can also usually be slow as change does not happen on an organic level whereby constant feedback changes the way things happen, rather it is usually a reactive reaction to an external factor that will bring about change. This can bring its own inherent risks as the manager may be less able to react and change and may not see risk before it impacts on them and the team. There are positives to managing in an autocratic manner. These can be reducing the level of time a task is discussed and maximising the time that the task is being completed. As decision making is streamlined changes can be made fast and implemented with less conversation. Staff will often be accepting to change because they feel they have no say in how that change is to be managed. As such this management style usually favours process driven roles and can be shown to be highly productive, if inflexible.
The second management style is consultative. This is similar to autocratic management as the final decision will come from the top down. However, where this differs is there is an openness to feedback and usually comes with an open-door policy. Feedback can be taken when shaping the task or process, but the final decision is made by the manager. This can give staff a feeling of buy in and that their opinions and skills count, however, dependant on the response by the manager can make staff feel it is futile in speaking up, which risks good ideas being withheld. This system works very closely with autocracy but can often make the process less efficient because consultation is happening with no guarantee that the manager is listening as they may be paying lip service to being an inclusive manager but will go for their own decisions regardless. This adds time to the decision-making process and brings nothing new to the final decision. However, managers who are open to team members opinions can shape their final decision but this is less democratic than later management styles.
Operating a persuasive management style is again similar to autocratic and consultative, however, this is usually defined by the manager wanting their team to see the benefits of their decision. Sometimes this can to improve their ego but other times they feel that staff understanding and agreeing with their decision will be more inclusive and bring buy in. This can be the case as staff will see the thinking of the manager and will be able to see how a decision has been made, however, staff can still feel that their opinions do not matter and in some circumstances, staff can see potential errors in reasoning which can cause dissatisfaction when having to follow a potentially flawed process. Feedback from staff is usually sought but this can be used in a negative way with the manager using it to disprove the reasoning of the team member and further pushing their agenda as being the right one. This can alienate team members as they will not want to offer suggestions for fear of feeling patronised or potentially embarrassed. As such this will demotivate the team and may cause a division between the team and that manager as the team may feel that the manager is self-serving and their desire for people to see them as the best or most efficient team maker can cause conflict. The key difference in this respect between persuasive and autocratic is that the outcome of the decision is usually the same but rather than staff feeling disempowered they may feel actively subjugated. That said when it is used in a positive and effective way it can show the team the benefits of a decision and the level of thought that has gone in to it. If this is a potentially divisive decision it can persuade team members of the benefit and validity of the decision and create a level of buy in because staff have seen that they have been considered, but not necessarily listened to, when a particular strategy has been adopted.
The fourth distinct management style is that of a democratic nature. Similar in nature to a democratic society whereby everyone has a say in how and what decisions are made. A democratic leadership style will encourage open and transparent communication and will welcome suggestions from team members at any level. This can give significant team buy-in and promote new and different ideas. This also helps make longer term decisions for the company as it will draw on lots of experience and skills and will help reduce the potential for oversight. However, this style can be quite inefficient when quick decisions need to be made. By taking time to listen to all opinions it can cause decisions to be delayed with potentially unnecessary discussion. By being able to make quick and decisive decisions managers can be proactive and reduce risk before it escalates. By having a democratic style this can actually reduce the willingness of a manager to make a decision on their own. This lack of confidence can be detrimental to the team who may wish to see quick action from their manager and can make the team feel that they can sway any decision being made to benefit them rather than the business as a whole. Benefits of this method can be a loyal and dedicated team who feel valued. It can create strong bonds within the team although it can diminish the differences in roles but it can be especially useful in departments where the change is slower or not as impactful because of the time and due diligence that can be put into the decision making process.
The fifth management style of chaotic. This is usually where the manager gives control of decision making to the team and no one is in clear charge of the final agreement. This can have benefits in creative environments where the best or more energetic idea wins but can be less effective due to confusion and lack of leadership. This is especially problematic when there is a team of varied and strong personality types or when there is a large disparity in skills. As such often the loudest voice and not the best idea can win through. Managers who have this leadership style are not often viewed as strong leaders and can be side-lined by their team and colleagues. At the furthest end these managers can seem incompetent or unable to make a decision and this can lead to a significant level or respect or trust and managers can be ignored when they do make a decision. In extreme circumstances this management style can be effective. This will usually be when there is a group of highly competent team members and there is a decision (usually technical) that the manager is not qualified to answer. In this circumstance allowing the team to make the decision can be based on knowledge and experienced rather than a manager’s personal feelings or previous experiences.
The sixth management style is laissez-faire. This can often share similarities with ‘management by walking around’. In this style the manager is less a figurehead and more of a mentor than a leader. The employees can usually make their own decisions and will seek advice from the manager. This management style can be confused with managers being lazy or unwilling to do their job, however, there are significant differences. These are usually best seen in creative processes when individuals are working on their own projects. It will give the team member the confidence that they can control the process and that the success of the project is dependent on them, with the manager being more of a facilitator and enabler than a controller of decisions. Where this system will fall down is when leadership is required, and a single decision maker is needed to ensure decisions are both prompt and effective. This style of management rarely works in social care, mainly due to the manager often needing to be responsible for compliance and adherence to policy. Allowing the team to change the direction of their actions can lead to significant issues and can have legal implications.
The final management style I will discuss is transformative. In my role this is often the style I need to adopt the most when going into services that are struggling or have had a lack of leadership for some time. This management style is where the manager will work proactively with their team to identify change, create a motivated and loyal team with the end goal to improve processes and to improve quality and promote a culture of change management. This manager will use skills from the previous six management styles as they look to create confidence, build morale and a rapport with their team. This will also be dedicated to challenging norms and encouraging positivity to flourish. A transformative manager will usually be confident and willing to show the skill and dedication to doing individual tasks that they expect the team to do. A transformative management style can also be seen to be ruthless as they may need to make decisions that are unpopular for the greater good. An example of this can be refining processes and creating redundancies in order to safeguard the majority of jobs. A transformative management style will usually be focused on the end goal of compliance or success in the task and will shape individual decisions on their value towards what they want to achieve. This style may also mean that the manager is the least important member of the team, and in my case will be eventually replaced by someone who has been tasked with keeping the momentum. As such the manager may have to make decisions that create more work for themselves or causes them to be viewed negatively by the team as the individual, which important, is less of a focus than the task as a whole. This system of management is prevalent in health and social care where there is always a desire to improve lives whilst maintaining compliance with ever changing legislation.