As a manager, or an employee who has been tasked with managing a project, you have several options as to how you are going to manage your team. Six in fact, according to the consulting firm of Hay-McBer. While there’s really no right or wrong way to manage a group of people, it’s important that you are able to identify which styles work best for different scenarios, along with the pros and cons of each. Through being aware of the following six management styles you can learn how to adjust your mannerisms to fit any situation you encounter in the workplace.


#1 Autocratic: Also known as Directive or Coercive management, this style is best known as a top-down decision-making method. This style of managing involves giving employees directions with the expectation that they will follow through without question. Using the Autocratic style means that there is a set manager who is responsible for enforcing company procedures and policies in order to reach company goals. As such, this style is best suited for situations where a decision needs to be made quickly, such as an emergency or crisis where consulting with the rest of the team is not an option.

  • Pros: This management style sets very clear expectations for employees while creating a distinct hierarchy that streamlines the decision making process. Managers utilizing this style will be met with little resistance and conflict as they do not ask their employees for feedback.
  • Cons: There are many drawbacks to the Autocratic management style, the biggest being that it does not encourage feedback from employees. This can quickly spiral into low morale and high turnover. It can also lead to dissatisfied employees and lower productivity if management is not willing to hear employee ideas for improvement. It can also be exhausting for managers to maintain directive management, and is not recommended for daily use in the workplace.

#2 Authoritative: The authoritative management style is also referred to as the visionary style of management since it encourages managers to share and implement their long term goals with their employees. Although it is necessary for the manager to check in and evaluate employee progress periodically, this style inspires employees to use their own methods and talents to help achieve their manager’s vision. In order to be successful, managers need to convince their employees to buy-in to their vision, and often use persuasive tactics to do so. Credibility is key to create trust in the manager’s vision, and it would not be successful without employees who are trained and skilled in their field.

  • Pros: Employees are likely to feel a sense of freedom to use their skill set to achieve their manager’s vision. Constructive criticism and feedback will be meaningful experiences for their employees.
  • Cons: Since this is a more hands off method of managing, employees may stray from the objective if the manager does not check in regularly. They may also not buy-in to their manager’s vision which would be problematic as the project progresses.

#3 Affiliative: This style of management is known as “people first, task second” and truly encourages professional relationships between coworkers and management to flourish in the workplace. It is most effective when used in conjunction with other management styles to encourage teamwork and should be avoided in times of crisis when a clear chain of command is needed.

  • Pros: Happy employees are the result of this management style, as are strong relationships between coworkers and managers. Conflicts are kept to a minimum and employees feel heard and valued by their team.
  • Cons: Since performance and productivity are not the focus of this management style, you may encounter employees who become complacent and no longer push themselves. There is also a risk of this workplace becoming too friendly and familiar under Affiliative management.

#4 Participative: Also referred to as the Democratic management style, is unlike the Autocratic or Authoritative management style in that the manager is willing to listen to everyone’s opinions and encourages employees to be active participants in the decision making process. Using this management style, managers are more likely to create buy-in with employees and in turn, employees are more likely to be invested in their work for the company. This style is best used in workplaces where collaboration is necessary among team members as it allows everyone to feel heard.

  • Pros: Working together under this style of management motivates employees and builds trust between employees and management. Morale and productivity will build as employees continue to invest in their work and feel that their contributions are noticed.
  • Cons: This style of management may invite conflict as the manager asks for opinions and takes each perspective into consideration before coming to a final conclusion. It may also be slow progress as employees give their opinions during every step of a project.

#5 Pacesetting: Pacesetting management is exactly what the title implies, the manager sets the pace in which tasks are accomplished and objectives are met. Under this management style, employees are expected to perform and maintain a high level of achievement. Often times, the manager sets a fast pace and expects employees to pick up where they left off with a similar standard. Best used when employees are experts in their field and fully capable of picking up where their manager left off, this style can be used in highly motivated environments where employees are willing to follow the lead of their manager.

  • Pros: The fast paced nature of this management style creates a productive and high energy environment to work in. In this environment, employees will feel pushed to reach their personal best and will be encouraged to reach the goals that are set before them.
  • Cons: Unfortunately, the pace that managers set may be impossible for employees to maintain; in which case, morale may decrease and employees can develop a defeatist attitude in the workplace.

#6 Coaching: The coaching, or mentoring, approach to management is used to develop talented employees and help them to realize and achieve their potential. This management style is used to help employees in their professional development goals as well as improve upon their weaknesses. In order to be successful in this management role, the manager must be an expert in their field and be confident in their ability to coach their employees. This management style is best used with an expert manager who has a team of individuals who need training and motivation.

  • Pros: Not only will this management style foster a strong bond between managers and their subordinates but it will also lead to highly developed employees who are confident in their abilities.
  • Cons: The main downfall to this management style is that it is ineffective if the manager isn’t an expert in their field.


With all of these different management styles, it is important to remember that how you choose to manage depends on your industry, company size, and experience level of your team (among other things). Since there’s no right or wrong way to manage, know what your options are and use your best judgement to help your team succeed.