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How to Improve Your Management Style

by Jack Phillips
Posted: June 23, 2015

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Being a good manager does not come down to doing things one particular way. If you think back on the good managers you may have had in your life you will remember that they tailor their approaches to the people they work alongside.

To be an effective manager you need to know the core skills and then how to apply those techniques to the people under your charge.

Having a good management style is not about being good/bad or right/wrong. Effective management styles depend on the task at hand, the people involved and the situation that needs to be managed. Rosalind Cardinal, known as 'The Leadership Alchemist', says the “key to being an effective leader is to have a broad repertoire of styles and to use them appropriately.” As the Principal Consultant of Shaping Change she believes it’s all about applying what you know to the right situation.

Here are six widely used management approaches that are often referenced by leading management books and journals. It is important to be aware of the different types out there so that you can pull the positive aspects from them whilst being aware of their pitfalls.

Six common management styles

1. Directive management style

An instructional managerial style characterised by a leader who tells subordinate staff what they are expected to do and how to perform the expected tasks. They set high standards and lead by example. A directive leadership style might be helpful for a manager within a business where their staff members have jobs that are not particularly specialised and so they need more guidance to avoid uncertainty. However this style does not take into account the experience and skills of a workforce which you could use to the teams advantage.

2. Authoritative management style

The authoritative leader rarely lets others make decisions and relies on their own experience to make decisions. They consider their views to be most valid and are often critical of differing opinions. They are action oriented, highly competitive and do not take criticism from team members well.

3. Affiliative management style

An affiliative leader promotes harmony among their team and helps to solve any conflict. This management style helps to build teams that feel connected to each other. In this way it can be hard to differentiate within a clear manager role and assert where and when required.

4. Participative management style

The participative leader believes each team member’s ideas are equal to that of the manager. Everyone’s input is considered and the manager functions more as a facilitator often accepting others’ ideas over their own. They focus on stimulating creativity and creating a culture of innovation. Similar problems arise to that of an affiliative manager as it can be hard to assert dominance where and when required.

5. Pacesetting management style

The pacesetting manager sets extremely high performance standards and leads by example. They are obsessive about doing things better and faster, and ask much of the people around them. They quickly pinpoint poor performers and demand a lot from their team.

6. Coaching management style

The coaching style works best when the leader wants to help the team build lasting personal strengths that make them more successful. It is least effective when team members are defiant and unwilling to change or learn, or if the leader lacks the ability to be able to bring people together to work as a unit.

How to use these management styles effectively

No one management style offers everything. In fact many business leaders say that to get the best management recipe you should take combine many aspects from each of the six above methods and combine them to your own taste. Ultimately you are looking for a way to manage based on the way that best elevates and inspires your team.

How to know which style to use

Knowing which management style to use and when to employ them comes down to a choice you make. As each work situation may require a different approach and can determine where and when to apply specific management qualities. You should determine the following to make the corresponding management decision.

  • Assess the skills of your team
  • Assess the aims and objectives of your team
  • Assess the time frame for the objective
  • Asses the personalities in your team

You’ve got an excellent recipe for long-term management success as long as you see your management style are constantly up for change and renegotiation. How can you be a better manager? First admit that you still have room to learn and grow. Then clearly assess the goals and objectives of your team, the individual skills and personalities that make up that team and then use these fundamental techniques to better serve them.

The two questions you should always be asking yourself is ‘how can I get the best out of myself and my team?’ and ‘what can I do to help achieve that aim?’

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Jack Phillips

Jack is an online producer with an editorial/journalistic background and strong experience in digital/content strategy for publishers and news portals. He specialises in content that integrates data and publishing platforms (CMS and CRM), user experience optimisation and increasing revenue potential.

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