What Kind of Manager Are You?

Many managers struggle with choosing a management technique for the decision making process. Some managers tend to simply issue orders based on their own judgment and expect obedience, while others actively engage their subordinates in the decision making process. Listed below are some common management styles along with some of the pros and cons for each. There’s nothing necessarily right or wrong about any of these styles, but some are more appropriate in certain situations than others.


  • The authoritarian manager simply directs employees according to the manager’s judgment and expects that those orders be followed blindly. This management style can be efficient from a time perspective, but tends to generate low morale which may ultimately outweigh any benefits. Additionally, the authoritarian style leaves the manager with little or no outside input to his decision making. This style is generally seen as an extreme example meant more to provide context for the other styles than as a practical management approach. There are situations, though, where this style is appropriate and effective–generally associated with the military or high-risk situations like firefighting, or health care in some situations.


  • The consultative manager seeks out the opinions of her subordinates and takes them into consideration before making a decision. This management style benefits from outside opinions and is still relatively efficient in terms of time; however, employees can sometimes feel slighted or insignificant if their suggestions are largely disregarded by the manager. Consultative managers need to make sure they’re clear about how input will be used–e.g. as “input only” or to influence the decision/outcome.


  • The collaborative manager directly involves employees in the decision making process. This could involve a voting system, for example. Depending on the situation, the manager could make her vote equal to the employees or weighted somehow, for example, by saying the manager’s vote counts for two. The consultative approach benefits from employee input and a sense of ownership of decisions, but can potentially force a manager into a decision that he was opposed to, based on the votes of the employees. It is important for managers to always reserve the right to make the final decision based on multiple inputs.

Laissez Faire

  • Laissez faire management is on the opposite end of the spectrum from authoritarian management. Laissez faire management means the manager is completely hands-off and employees are left to make decisions affecting them on their own. Laissez faire management can create a strong sense of ownership and self motivation; however, there are obvious risks of chaos and lack of uniform direction.

Booz Hamilton recently released the results of its annual research on CEO succession and identified “four types of CEOs” which offers similar insights. Again, all types may be effective depending on the situation, the industry and the environment in which the business operates.


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