All managers have their own style and some are definitely more effective than others. Over the years I've come across quite a few different approaches – both from people who've managed me directly and, more recently, who I've worked with on projects. And while I've been inspired by some people's approaches, I've been less than impressed with others.
In my quest to improve my own management style I decided to do a bit of research. I found that most of the traits I disagree with fit into one of these 13 management styles – what do you make of them?
1. Absolute rule
These types of managers hate to look vulnerable and think they'll lose their employees' respect if they show any uncertainty. The result? They never ask for help and spend more time worrying about their own image rather than what's best for the company. One of my first bosses definitely fell into this category and the relationship with his staff was terrible, leading to inefficiency and increased mistakes as people were so nervous all the time.
2. Anything goes
In theory this type of relaxed boss should be a dream to work with. But apparently, being too relaxed can cause just as many issues as being too strict – if not more. When your manager tries too hard to be everyone's friend it can lead to a lazy workforce as well as unproductivity and sloppiness as people know there won't be any consequences.
While I haven't actually worked for anyone with this style, I can imagine that, for some, it would be demotivating as you may feel like no-one cares or notices if you do a good job.
Autocratic means one person making all the decisions, which may be ok in theory but doesn't tend to work out well in practice. I'm a firm believer that good managers should be able to make important decisions and stick to them. But it's also important to ask for staff's input in certain situations. After all, you hired them for a reason and ignoring their opinions could lead to them feeling undervalued and looking for a position where they'll feel more appreciated.
4. The charge-ahead general
Ever been managed by someone who's got their eye on being the next CEO and will do anything to stand out? I have, and while it can be a good thing there's an element of risk. While these individuals are busy forging ahead, trying to make a name for themselves with their brave new approaches, problems inevitably come with experimentation.
They often forget to be patient with staff, which can lead to morale spiralling downwards. It's great to have an ambitious boss, as long as they are looking out for their staff as well as themselves.
5. Complete self-reliance
There's nothing more frustrating than a boss who just can't trust you to get on with anything on your own and is always interfering with your work – it can lead to low morale, slower production and can limit staff development. I don't think there's anything wrong with checking in with staff, and obviously you should be supporting them, but no manager can (or should!) do everything themselves.
More extreme than autocratic bosses, dictators don't allow any questioning of their decisions and aren't interested in any input their team can offer. They also tend to be big on disciplinary action if employees don't follow exact orders. Luckily I've not worked under anyone this extreme, but I've seen this style in action when I've worked closely with other companies.
It can lead to a really awful working atmosphere with staff scared to put a toe out of line. If I worked under this kind of boss I'd soon be looking for another position.
Most business owners know that flexibility is key. Things don't always (and in some cases rarely) turn out exactly as you planned. But there are some managers who prize consistency and control over everything else and worry that they'll get taken advantage of if they don't have it. Examples I've seen include not letting staff change their working hours slightly to accommodate family commitments or commutes, and not allowing home working, even though there's no good reason.
The result? Employees who resent their boss, have low motivation and are likely to quit as soon as a better (and hopefully more flexible) opportunity comes along. Alternatively, you might find that some workers become rebellious as a way of acting out against their manager's strictness.
8. Mushroom management
Great name, but not a great management style. Mushroom managers have severe communication issues when it comes to sharing information with employees. The right channels might be in place, but they're not used effectively, much to everyone's frustration. Worryingly, this has been a problem in businesses for decades with the most famous example being the Titanic – when the ship hit the iceberg only a few crew members knew that it was going to sink, which created complete chaos.
Hopefully, the implications of mushroom management would be less severe at most companies, but it could certainly lead to confusion among staff and low morale when they find out they're not in the loop.
I speak from experience when I say it can be so hard not to be a micro-manager - especially when it's your own company and you probably had to do everything yourself at the start. But getting involved in every little job not only means that you're likely neglecting the bigger picture, you're showing your employees that you don't trust them.
Knowing when to take a step back can be hard (trust me I know) but if you don't you risk being left with demotivated staff who feel like they don't have time to come up with new ideas and ways of working that may actually benefit your business.
10. The morale buster
I've mentioned morale a few times now, and most bad management styles will eventually lead to a drop in workers' spirits. But none so fast as the morale buster. This type of boss is big on discipline and criticism, usually leading to a workforce who feel undervalued, resent their manager and aren't motivated to be productive. Obviously you sometimes have to tell your staff some hard truths, but there are ways of doing this without quashing all enthusiasm from your staff.
11. The mover and shaker
Managers are often tasked with helping to grow the company they work for. But I've seen some who push things too far and end up pushing staff to their absolute limit. Goals need to be achievable or staff will not only be over-worked and stressed, they'll be left disheartened when their efforts aren't successful.
12. The screamer
Expressing your authority is one thing, screaming and shouting at staff is another. But it seems there are still some managers who think that the best way to get results is to scare their staff. Personally, I know it's a tactic I've never responded very well to - I just end up losing all respect for the manager.
13. Seagull management
The seagull style is common among managers who are just starting out, and it's probably something I was guilty of in my first management role. These managers don't really interact with staff unless there's a problem and don't tend to offer regular praise and encouragement. Over the years I've definitely seen the benefit of giving regular feedback – good and bad – and have stronger relationships with my team because of it.
So what about my own management style? Hopefully, I don't share too many negative traits with those I've listed. Personally, I think the most effective way to manage is to treat people the way you'd like to be treated - switching up certain elements of your style depending on your team and the situation. You'll have to ask my team how effective this approach, but I like to think it gets me the results I need.
- business.salary.com, "5 Completely ineffective leadership[ styles (and how to fix them), accessed April 07, 2017 http://business.salary.com/5-ineffective-leadership-styles/slide/8/
- smallbusiness.chron.com, "The top signs of poor leadership",Jill Leviticus (accessed April 06, 2017) http://smallbusiness.chron.com/top-signs-poor-leadership-31537.html
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- wikipedia.org, "Mushroom Management" (accessed April 07, 2017) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mushroom_management#Bankruptcy_Of_Lehman_Brothers
- www.projecteve.com, "Leadership skills: changing ineffective styles", Traci Cleary (accessed April 10, 2017) http://www.projecteve.com/leadership-skills-identifying-and-changing-ineffective-styles/