Management Styles for Effective Leadership

Management Styles for Effective Leadership

Why Your Management Style Matters

Imagine this scenario. The team you manage at your corporation has been given a particularly tight deadline. In addition, little direction has been given on the task and a few of your team colleagues have turned to you for advice.

In a common situation such as this, reliance on strong managerial personalities is what ensures success. Your management style not only helps you achieve results in the long run, but it can also support your team's daily performance.

If you work in an active environment, where the goals and targets change regularly, your leadership style is an essential part of managing the changing environment.

Daniel Goleman, a well-regarded researcher in psychology and emotional intelligence, is credited with developing the six leadership styles theory. Each leadership style works with a different collection of personalities and depends entirely upon your working environment.

This article will explore these six management styles to see how they can make you an effective leader. It will also discuss what it means to have strong leadership qualities and how you can apply these within your respective workplace.

What Does It Mean to Be an Effective Leader?

There is no definitive mold of a good leader. An effective manager or team leader changes with the goals they are striving for and the work that needs doing.

For instance, if you are leading a team working on a collaborative project with a rough timeline of a year, the skills needed for success will differ from the above scenario of a little-directed project on a very tight deadline.

A long-term project may require a leader who can transform a vision into a practical plan with built-in leeway for potential problems and that allows team members to show their individuality.

A short-term project may require a tough leader who ensures that daily workloads are completed and who values productivity over uniqueness, handling the entire project themselves to avoid further delay.

No single style fits all people or all projects, but the key factors that determine the best specific management style are almost always the same.


How a team manager can steer their colleagues towards success is often dependent upon how the team works.

An effective team leader will be able to analyze what styles work best for individuals within the team. Some colleagues may prefer autonomy to work on a project alone, whilst others are collaborative and want to be consistently involved in group communication.

Managing the size of the team is also important. A team leader should know how many heads it will take to complete a project.

Another key characteristic of a good team leader is the ability to identify where specific skills lie within the team and assign different tasks to people accordingly.

Deadlines and Workloads

How you delegate work across your team to meet a deadline is arguably the most difficult task of a team leader.

You may be given a complex task to complete in a short timeframe, or you may be given a more open-ended task to gather long-term projections.

Setting out the deadlines and the workloads along the way towards the finish line shows a reliable leader.

A poor team leader would not set out either personal or team deadlines, leading to a work bottleneck by the end of the project.

Remember to pace your team accordingly and measure their workloads whenever the goals are adjusted.


You may have worked in a team where the leader sets the tasks well, delegates the workloads accordingly with the right skillsets, but then disappears shortly after.

In this case, their lack of communication is more than just frustrating. It hinders progress and makes the rest of the team feel at a loss with where the project is meant to be going.

A good leader keeps their team updated with any short-term results and changes in the workloads. They will also have a comprehensive knowledge of where the project is going in order to set new tasks.

Strong communication is the foundation of all good leaders. If you want to gain the trust of your team members, it is important to be available to answer their questions and update their itineraries.


A good team leader is willing to shoulder the responsibility of their team and themselves.

It is soul-destroying to have a team leader who is unwilling to put work into the project yet is quick to accept positive reviews for the results.

Not only should a team leader help with the most difficult tasks when other team members become frustrated, but they should also be ready to accept criticism from above.

If you want to succeed as a team leader, you should be ready to take on all the tasks. Such an attitude will be encouraging to other team members, and they will be happy to participate with you. Happy team members are more productive.

Authoritarian team leaders can be successful in directing projects, but they must also be willing to show compassion and sympathy when difficulties arise.

Results and Reflection

After weeks, even months, of working together towards the same target, the team will receive results in the form of an appraisal or a team meeting.

A good team leader should be willing to break down the positives and the areas to improve, highlighting what can be done next time.

In their willingness to reflect on the process, a team leader builds structures that deliver results.

A poor leader would not discuss this with their team, leaving them in the dark about how the project was received. You should not have to chase your team leader for results; they should bring them to you.

Management Styles for Effective Leadership: Overview and Examples
Management Styles for Effective Leadership: Overview and Examples

What Are the Most Useful Management Styles for an Effective Leader?

As mentioned above, six effective management styles have been identified for positive results.

Each style works differently and is suited to different working environments.

1. Affiliative Management

The affiliative manager prioritizes the social bonds between team members. As a result, affiliative managers are often considered approachable and popular.

Affiliative managers often work well in scenarios where particularly sensitive details are handled. A team may be given a sensitive task to work on which includes areas where personal relationships might be strained.

For example, consider how a team of social workers may be dealing with harrowing details of child abuse. This may put strain on their interpersonal relationships, which could impact the efficacy of their work. In this scenario, it is important to prioritize the social bonds between the team members.

An affiliative management style would be a good choice for such a project as the manager will be able to highlight where the stress lies and delegate tasks accordingly to reduce any tension.

An affiliative leader can also be effective in projects where opinions are split. They aim for harmony between team members, attempting to empathize with varying personal perspectives.

Be aware that affiliative managers want cohesion within their team above all else. This may require compromises, but they will do their utmost to achieve these.

When it comes to the results and feedback at the end of the project, affiliative team leaders are often encouraging and positive even when things may have not gone to plan. While this makes the team feel good, it can mean important areas of improvement are missed or not passed on.

If you are a caring person, or feel you need extra emotional support during projects, an affiliative manager will best suit your working style.

2. Consensual Management

These types of managers will attempt to clearly present the problems to the team. They can be direct or blunt, but their main aim is reaching solutions quickly.

In contrast to an affiliative team leader, a consensual manager will not prioritize the emotional comfort of individual team members. Instead, they will present the problems clearly so the whole team can contribute to finding solutions.

A consensual leader encourages the utility of a group and relies upon general agreements to come to conclusions.

They may have the final say on a project, but they are keen to draw consensus from the group. Rarely do consensual managers act impulsively, and they expect team members to present any concerns.

These types of leaders want everybody to be involved and will sometimes drag quieter members of a team into the action. They delegate work fairly and will happily present your concerns about a project to the group.

They do accept responsibility as a leader but the collective efforts and results are the main aim of a consensual manager.

3. Developmental/Coaching Management

Developmental managers have strong control over a project through great communication skills. They require constant updates to see how the project is moving forward.

A developmental manager will oversee any working methods that can achieve the goals of a group. They strive to improve the working efforts and the results of each team member.

This type of leaders is often motivational and can be inspirational. They want the best from their team and are willing to take time to work through solutions to get better results.

The feedback from developmental leaders is encouraging and is to be received wisely. Unlike affiliative managers, they will not be overly courteous and will tell you exactly what needs to be done next time.

Such advice is not given to cause offence but to improve all facets of productivity.

Coaching and developmental managers can often be found giving training programs and improvement courses. They are good at showing individuals how to be better at their job.

4. Democratic Management

Like a consensual manager, a democratic management style optimizes the opinions of others.

However, a democratic manager will not go to great lengths to discuss all potential options. Instead, they will put forward a couple of directions to draw out the consensus of the team.

The democratic manager is more direct in their style, and they are more willing to act as an individual in projects. They will often ask for votes or quick opinions rather than perspectives.

They take great responsibility for the task at hand and can be effective in reaching solutions. They are often trusted with the vision of a project, and they seek out opinion as an aid rather than as a diversion from the course.

Team members under a democratic leader will still feel valued as they have their say, but it will be in a formative manner to get quick results.

If opinions of a team are split, the democratic manager uses their skills in communication and discussion. They will not act impulsively and prefer to let a team decide the direction to take.

A democratic leader can often be framed as a servant to the rest of the team, but they have more input than this term gives credit for. They present solutions and ask for concise advice.

5. Directive/Authoritarian Management

Sometimes a difficult project requires a difficult and disagreeable personality. A directive management style is often considered controversial as it stands opposed to a lot of the management methods discussed so far.

An authoritarian leader will have a singular vision of where they want the project to go. Team members do have input, but it is subordinate to the leader's final say.

These leaders are often found higher up the chain in corporations and often have years of experience. These positions are not given lightly as they can cause tensions within a team.

If you find yourself under an authoritarian manager for a project, do not take it personally. Their ultimate aim is to get a good result. They will not be concerned about your opinion, and you should likewise not be too concerned about this.

Learn what you can from these leaders as they are uncommon and exceptionally productive. Directive leaders take the most responsibility and criticism for a project.

If you are new to leadership and are managing a team you are unfamiliar with, it is not wise to deploy an authoritarian style. It is only with time and evident success that this management style should be used.

6. Exemplar/Pacesetting Management

If you have ever been in a team where time feels like it is running out and the expectations keep building, you may have likely been under the direction of an exemplar manager.

These types of managers are often wanting more from their team, and it can be frustrating as whatever you do never seems to please them.

Their standards are very high, and they can be described as perfectionists. Exemplar managers expect team members to do their absolute best.

However, like the developmental manager, the pacesetting leader can improve your skillset and efficiency.

Learn what you can from them and observe how they work. They can be inspiring if you can separate your morale from their critiques.

Remember that they will always be harsher on their own results than yours. It is in their nature to always do better.

Like the directive style, the pacesetting style is controversial as it can be seen as undervaluing team members. In this case, only use exemplar management when you are under serious pressure to hit a deadline.

Pacesetting managers are very good with short deadlines and complex tasks. They have excellent communication skills, and they use these to keep on top of everything.

These managers are found higher up the chain of command and often work with small teams. Do not use this style in large groups as you will isolate certain members from progressing.

How to Align Your Management Technique With Your Workplace

Now that we've looked at the six management styles, let's outline how these techniques can be used in the workplace.

It is best to first look at the scenario before choosing a management style you will think will work. Remember, there are no right answers in management, and your personality will dictate your choice as much as the working environment.

Consider the following aspects when deciding on a management style:

  • Time – Ask yourself how much time you have for the project and how long you think it will take to complete.
  • Team – Analyze the qualities needed for the task and what qualities exist in the workplace. Think about the size of the team you will need to complete the project.
  • Feedback – The project may be a team-building exercise, constructed to get quieter team members involved. Ask your superiors if you are expected to give feedback to all the team members or if the results are more important.
  • Personnel – There may be new members in your team or perhaps you are working with experienced individuals who just want to get the task done.
  • Workload – Think about how much work you can delegate and how much you need to complete yourself.
  • Vision – Ask yourself what you aim to achieve by the end of the project. It may be an exercise to improve communication, or it could be a project with more serious weight.
  • Reception – It is good to contemplate who will be receiving the results of this project. If it is an executive of the corporation, your approach will be different than if it is someone working in personal relations.

These seven pointers will help you choose your management style. They will also help you eliminate what you should not do.

Final Thoughts

Now that you know about the different management styles, take a look at those used in your workplace. Remember that different styles works for different situations, and there are good and bad ways to deploy all of them.

Reflect on the six styles and identify the ones you feel most comfortable with. If you are unsure which might suit you, it may be worth completing a few aptitude tests to get an idea of what suits your personality.

There is no right leadership style, but there are more right times and environments for each.

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