A Guide to the Best and Worst Management Styles

Ken Chase profile pic
Ken Chase, Freelance Writer

10 min read

A Guide to the Best and Worst Management Styles

A Guide to the Best and Worst Management Styles

When it comes to the workplace, everyone seems to have their own opinion about which management styles offer the best path to success. That difference of opinion is primarily due to the fact that every work environment is different and there are many different ways for managers to achieve success with their teams. Of course, that raises an interesting question: are there some styles of management that are objectively superior to others?

While almost every management style has its pros and cons, there are some that are more universally applicable than others. In this post, we will examine four of the best management styles, and also take a look at three styles that most managers might want to avoid if they want to achieve maximum success in their role.

Why do management styles matter?

The type of management style used by different managers can be one of the most crucial factors in determining a company’s success. At its core, a management style is simply the way that managers plan, organize, and leverage resources and labor to achieve business goals. Different management styles approach this process in different ways that impact everything from how they make decisions and delegate responsibility to their personal interactions with and oversight of team members.

Every manager’s ultimate aim should be to achieve the best possible outcome with a minimum amount of human capital and other resources. They do this by creating and executing strategies and plans, communicating their objectives to the members of their team, and allocating the resources necessary to achieve those goals. How they accomplish that task depends on a variety of factors that shape their unique management style and help to determine its effectiveness. Those factors include:

  • The personality of the manager

  • The company’s organizational structure

  • The employees who make up their team, and their skill level

  • The company’s broader vision and goals

It is also important to note that there is no perfect, universal management style that can guarantee success. It is also worth noting that the best management approach for you may end up being one that incorporates elements of several different styles. So, keep that in mind as you examine each of the various managerial styles that we explore throughout the rest of this post.

Every work environment has its own unique character and needs. At the same time, however, there are certain management styles that have proven to be successful, and other styles that can prove problematic. 

4 Examples of management styles that have great potential for success

1. Visionary management

One of the best styles that managers can employ involves a visionary approach to leading people. The visionary manager focuses on getting employee buy-in, which ensures greater engagement from every member of the team. Rather than rely on a more top-down approach to getting things done, the visionary is able to communicate purpose and goals in a way that inspires employees to leverage their talents and know-how to achieve that vision.

For managers who can adopt this style, the results can be impressive. Since a visionary manager tends to designate responsibility and then let employees decide how to complete their tasks, this style of management can create a strong sense of empowerment and autonomy for team members. Savvy visionaries are also open to listening to their teams’ ideas and will even modify strategies if those ideas are superior to their own.

The visionary management style can be difficult for some managers to employ, which is one reason why it is not as commonly seen as some other styles. Still, for managers who have inspirational communication skills and a keen sense of self-confidence, this approach to leading a team can be highly effective.

2. Coaching management

The coaching approach to management is another of the best ways to manage people, especially in companies and work environments where employee development is part of the overall culture. The coaching manager is still responsible for creating plans and allocating resources, but also focuses a great deal of time on helping employees reach their full potential. This type of employee-centered management can increase worker satisfaction, build trust and rapport, and help every member of the team build and develop valuable skills.

The manager-coach is much like the type of coach you see in many different sports. In addition to their typical management responsibilities, these coaching-oriented managers are also teachers, motivational speakers, and mentors committed to fostering growth for their employees. Like a sports coach, these managers are patient when failure occurs, and quick to reward success with increased responsibility or even promotions.

Team unity is a key priority, of course, since employees can become disillusioned if they feel that other workers are being given more attention by management. However, managers who are sensitive to that potential drawback can usually minimize those frustrations by ensuring that they have an individual growth plan for each member of their team.

3. Collaborative management

Collaborative managers use an approach based on the simple idea that sharing ideas and working in concert with others can produce better results than any form of top-down management. These managers build their teams in a way that encourages the sharing of thoughts, suggestions, and proposed solutions. That collective approach to resolving problems often allows a team and their manager to identify solutions that create real value for the company.

Of course, this type of management is different from the more democratic approach, since the manager tends to retain the authority to make all final decisions. However, by creating an environment in which all employees can participate with their ideas and recommendations, this management style can ensure that team members always feel as though their input and contributions are both heard and respected. That tends to increase employee satisfaction and encourages continued engagement in the workplace.

Of course, collaborative management is not always the best option for a company or manager. For example, it would not be as useful in a work environment that required quick decision-making to keep pace with new challenges. In addition, effective collaboration can generally only be accomplished when the manager’s team has the skills and experience needed to participate in a meaningful way.

4. Democratic management

The democratic approach to managing a team relies on the principle that majorities rule. For managers who trust their teams enough to share decision-making power, this style can create a truly unified company culture in which every employee feels a sense of ownership of the company’s mission. This management style can also be one of the most effective ways to ensure that team members feel free to utilize their skills to the fullest.

The democratic manager seeks input from employees in the decision-making process to ensure that they have the best information and perspective as they make each decision. These leaders believe in the power of teamwork and understand that seeking their team’s input can build trust, maintain morale, and foster healthier relationships between team members and management. Most employees like to know that they have at least some influence over decisions that directly impact their lives.

Naturally, the manager retains the final say in any decision, since it is management who will ultimately be held accountable when things go wrong. In addition, it is important for democratic managers to reduce inefficiencies in the democratic process, to ensure that decisions can still be made in a reasonable amount of time. Executed properly, however, this management style can create effective, engaged, and empowered teams that can fuel any company’s success.

3 Type of management styles you might want to avoid

1. Autocratic management

Of all the styles of management that employees tend to dislike, the autocratic approach has to rank near the top. Autocratic managers can be among the worst bosses, since their top-down management approach leaves no room for independent thought or decision-making at the employee level. Instead, autocrats set the goals, establish processes, allocate resources, and then demand total obedience from each member of their team.

Worse, many of these managers tend to create toxic work environments, thanks to their tendency to punish employees for their failures and shortcomings. Many utilize fear and shame, and will often give negative feedback to poor-performing team members in public, rather than work to offer constructive criticism that might help those employees improve their performance. In many instances, that is done to ensure that other workers understand exactly who is in charge.

As a rule, autocratic management is only truly effective in times of crisis, when decisions need to be made quickly to ensure the company’s survival. In almost every other instance, this type of managerial approach discourages employee development, destroys morale, and leaves many workers feeling discouraged with their jobs and eager for a change.

2. Laissez-faire management

In many respects, laissez-faire management is the opposite of the autocratic style. These managers may allocate resources and assign tasks, but they also tend to adopt a more relaxed and hands-off approach to monitoring their team’s work. And while they do make the bigger decisions, they leave almost everything else to their team members’ best judgment.

Unfortunately, this hands-off management style can produce a lot of unintended consequences. While the laissez-faire manager might trust team members to perform at their best, the lack of regular oversight can result in employees feeling untethered from the company’s broader mission. Worse, employees can eventually feel neglected and directionless, which can lead to reduced productivity and other issues that can harm a company’s profits.

3. Micromanagement

Almost everyone has suffered under a micromanager at some point in time. These managers have an uncontrollable need to manage every detail of an employee’s work, right down to the smallest of details. This type of management destroys autonomy, as the manager assigns tasks and then monitors and scrutinizes how the employee carries out those duties. This can obviously leave employees feeling powerless, unappreciated, and disengaged from their job roles.

Worse, this style of management rarely if ever produces positive results for employers. The constant policing of every team member’s efforts can destroy morale, eliminate creativity, and lead to stagnation at every level of the company.


Whether you are a current manager trying to shape your own management style or an aspiring leader who seeks a future management role, it is important to understand which approaches offer the best chance of managerial success. Learning more about the best and worst management styles can go a long way toward helping you make the best possible decision for your career.

Are you wondering whether your resume conveys your management style in a compelling way? Get your free resume review from our team of experts and find out!

Recommended Reading:

Ken Chase profile pic

Written by

Ken Chase, Freelance Writer

During Ken's two decades as a freelance writer, he has covered everything from banking and fintech to business management and the entertainment industry. His true passion, however, has always been focused on helping others achieve their career goals with timely job search and interview advice or the occasional resume consultation. When he's not working, Ken can usually be found adventuring with family and friends or playing fetch with his demanding German Shepherd. Read more resume advice from Ken on ZipJob’s blog.

Person working on laptop outside. ZipJob Branded.

Our resume services get results.

We’ve helped change over 30,000 careers.