9 Types of Management Styles and Real-Life Examples

Being a manager can be as exciting as it is nerve-wracking. Empower yourself with one of these management styles.

By Fellow.app  •   July 6, 2023  •   8 min read

Leading an effective team requires finding the management styles that work best for you and your team. Once you find a management style that works best, managing your team can become a much smoother and effective process. Below are nine different types of management styles, factors that affect a management style, and tips on how to improve your management skills!

What is a management style?

A management style is a way a manager works to reach their goals for the company. Your management style comprises how you make decisions, oversee team members, and plan and delegate tasks. You might use different management styles throughout your career rather than sticking with just one. 

Several internal and external factors affect your management style. You and your organization’s leadership have a say in internal factors: company policies, task priorities, employee skill levels, company culture, employee engagement. On the contrary, you’ll lack control over external factors, though they’ll still affect the entire staff. These factors include the economic factors and your competitors, consumers, and suppliers.

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9 types of management styles

Whether you’re a new manager or you’ve been at it a while, you’ll likely realize you prefer to run the show a certain way. That could mean following one specific management style or merging a few. Read on to discover nine types of management styles and determine which ones sound right for you. 

1 Autocratic

Authoritative managers follow a top-down autocratic management style. If you go the authoritative route, then if you set expectations and your team doesn’t follow them, they could face discipline or other consequences. After you explain a process, you’ll expect your staff to perform it the same way every time without questioning it. You’ll also watch your team closely to ensure that everything is moving along properly. 

  • You’ll closely track your team members to ensure they’re doing their work correctly. 
  • There will be consequences if a team member doesn’t hit their performance marks. 
  • Team members should not question your judgment. 

2 Democratic

A democratic management style is basically the opposite of an authoritative approach. This participative management style encourages your team to be a part of the process and give feedback on how things should be done. As a democratic manager, you believe the best way that your team works is in a collaborative, conversational environment. That said, you also give yourself the final say on all decisions. 

  • The democratic management style encourages team members to share their ideas. 
  • You’ll create a collaborative environment that thrives on communication. 
  • You’ll still have the final say in the decision-making process. 

3 Transformational

As a transformational manager, your main focuses are innovation and employee development. You’ll challenge and gently push your team members daily to help them grow. You’ll constantly motivate your team and encourage them to start new projects – even ones that may feel are out of their wheelhouse. 

  • Transformational management prioritizes long-term employee growth. 
  • You’ll encourage your team to push their boundaries and crush their goals. 
  • You’ll expect your team to take on challenging tasks daily. 

4 Coaching

In a coaching management style, your team really is a team – it’s basically a sports metaphor. You want to lead your team to victory and perfect their skills so everyone can reach their full potential. You’ll focus so strongly on long-term growth that short-term mistakes are inevitable and okay. After all, letting your team problem-solve on their own makes you an effective manager – look at you giving everyone the space to do it themselves!

  • A coaching management style focuses on learning and problem-solving.
  • You’ll prioritize long-term growth over correcting short-term mistakes.
  • Professional development is the foundation of the coaching management style. 

“Leaders tend to fall directly into advice. If somebody asks for help, leaders say, ‘you should be doing this, or this, or this.’ And I think there are so many more opportunities to coach people through things. It’s to the benefit of everyone. To the leader, in the long term, it saves time, because they can focus on more strategic tasks, and they’re not micromanaging. It is also beneficial for the organization.”

Dr. Julia Milner,  Professor of leadership at EDHEC

5 Collaborative

If you use a collaborative management style, you encourage your team to discuss any idea that anyone raises. After hearing what your team has to say, you’ll base your decision on a majority vote. This environment gives staff a large say in how things are run, leading to higher employee engagement and a more motivated team. 

  • Collaborative environments are great for keeping employees engaged
  • Each idea is fully open for discussion amongst all members.
  • You’ll make your final decision based on a majority vote. 

6 Consultative

In a consultative environment, the manager wants to hear from every team member before making a final decision. Doing so could mean having a weekly meeting to hear everyone’s thoughts and opinions or shooting an email to get everyone’s input. That’s why consultative management is great for specialized fields where your whole team brings unique experience to the table. 

  • Consultative management means taking everyone’s opinions and ideas into consideration.
  • Consultative management is common in specialized fields. 
  • You’ll see your team members as assets and make their opinions the bedrock of a successful work environment. 


The laissez-faire management style allows your team members to make their own decisions about projects, but they’ll always have you in their corner for backup. You’ll be there to offer guidance, but you’ll rarely tell anyone what they should or shouldn’t do. Think of this type of leadership style as a helping hand. You’ll give your team freedom and remain minimally involved in their projects unless they ask you for guidance. 

  • Laissez-faire managers give their teams more free reign when it comes to making decisions. 
  • You’ll be there to guide your team when they ask for it, but you’ll rarely tell them what to do. 
  • You won’t be heavily involved in projects. 

8 Delegative

As a delegative manager, your main focus is to assign tasks, then give feedback once a task is complete. Your team members will decide how to perform each task. After you look over their work, you’ll offer positive feedback alongside constructive criticism on how they can improve in the future. 

  • Delegative managers assign tasks but don’t oversee the process. 
  • Your team will figure out how to perform tasks on their own. 
  • You’ll provide feedback once tasks are complete. 

9 Visionary

In a visionary management style, the manager is someone to look up to. You’ll explain your goals and why they matter to motivate and inspire your staff. Since you’re constantly inspiring your team, they’ll likely stay motivated without a continual check. 

  • Visionary managers give their teams freedom to complete their work but will check in occasionally. 
  • You’ll regularly inspire your team members to reach their goals. 
  • You’ll share your goals and vision with your team. 

“A manager works in the business and a leader works on the business. A leader always takes an organization from where it is today to somewhere different, they always try to take the business from where it is today to somewhere different, they have a vision. And they communicate that vision.”

Paul Sloane, Innovation Consultant

Real-life examples of different management styles

1Bill Gates

Bill Gates, the CEO of Microsoft, adopted the autocratic management style in his top-down leadership approach. Gates embodied authoritative decision-making processes that enabled him to maintain control over the direction of Microsoft. However, this style of management can discourage team members from being creative and innovative because of the lack of freedom they have. Despite its drawbacks, Gates played a vital role in Microsoft’s success, showcasing the potential benefits of this management style when implemented effectively. 

2Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela, former President of South Africa, adopted the democratic management style through his collaborative, coaching leadership approach. By giving everyone a voice, Mandela engaged in collaborative decision-making and encouraged transparency across his team. Mandela’s democratic management style guided South Africa and left a lasting legacy of leadership that is based on trust, inclusivity, and collaboration. 

3Warren Buffett

Warren Buffett, the CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, adopted the laissez-faire management style with his hands-off, delegation approach to decision-making. By giving his team members autonomy, Buffett put his trust in them to carry out his vision while providing guidance and support when needed. Buffett’s laissez-faire management style encouraged his team members to take on new roles and be accountable for their work, which contributed to the success of Berkshire Hathaway. 

Tips on how to improve your management skills

Even if you feel super confident in your management style, there’s always room for improvement. Read below to discover tips on how you can improve your management skills and bring yourself up to the next level. 

1Figure out your personal needs

What do you need from your team to succeed? What tools will help you become an effective manager? You may want to write down your answers so you can actually see what will help you and your team be successful. 

2Figure out your team’s needs

Consider the best environment for your team to thrive. Does your team do well pushing their boundaries or fare better in their comfort zone? Do some team members need an extra push to keep at it? Really take some time to figure out how each team member works and what they need from you to do their best. 

3Learn more management skills

Just how skilled of a manager are you? Ask your team members how they feel about your performance to find out. You could also ask for anonymous feedback to get especially honest answers – after all, if your staff has some critique, they may not feel comfortable saying it face to face. Take the feedback as learning opportunities and ways to close your skills gap. With enough time and dedication, you’ll become an even better manager. 

4Set milestones to reach your goal

Milestones are important steps along the way to a big goal. For example, if you’re managing a year-long project, what will you do along the way to help your team succeed? A milestone could be to have 10 design meetings in the first quarter to help oversee everyone’s ideas. Another one would be to approve a draft design, and so on until you reach the finish line. Setting SMART goals is a great way to accomplish this and keep your team on track.

5Always track your progress 

Part of your responsibilities as a manager is to track a team member’s progress, but don’t forget to track yours, too. Consider setting up meetings with your teams or regularly checking in to see which techniques are receptive. For example, with visionary management, you may notice that your team isn’t productive enough given how much you’re trying to inspire them. In that case, you may want to see what you can improve to help meet your management goals.

6Consider additional management training

If you’re trying to be the best possible manager, it never hurts to sit down for some formal classes. You could also just shadow another manager for a bit. In both cases, you’ll likely see new management ideas might work for you and other things you think would miss the mark. Either way, you’ll walk away a better manager. 

7Ask for feedback (again)

The only way you’ll know if you’re managing your team well is to ask them. On small teams, you can schedule a meeting with each team member to get their thoughts and hear what they think could change. On larger teams, feedback tools are probably your go-to. And on that front, a good meeting tool can really help.

Set your management goals – and get feedback

Now that you’re familiar with several different management styles and tips, you’re ready to take the next steps to reach your goals. To set yourself up for success, you’ll need a space dedicated to writing down your goals and asking for feedback. With Fellow, you can set objectives, seek peer feedback, and do so much more. You’ll reach your management goals in no time. 

“Seek out leaders who have some similar personality traits as you and find out what makes them great leaders. Then try to incorporate some of that behaviour into your leadership style because there are plenty of different leadership styles that work, you just need to figure out what the right leadership style for you is.”

Colin Bryar, Former Vice President of Amazon
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