The manager’s impact is directly related to the success of the team or department that is being managed. In fact, managers are the backbone of the organization because it is their job to align employees with the values and mission of the company, and then to motivate them to produce excellent work. Sadly, there is no one-size-fits-all management approach that works. Individual managers have different sets of characteristics and tendencies which impact their management style. But what employees need or want may be very different, making it difficult for a manager to know what to do. And of course, there are some managers who don’t consider their employees’ needs at all. Which is why 35% of American employees would forego a pay raise to get their boss fired.  To fix this issue managers need to take an honest and impartial look inward to understand how and why they manage the way they do, and then take the necessary steps to improve. 

How I Manage 

The three most common management styles are autocratic, democratic and laissez-faire. To help you decipher your own management style, keep reading. 

Autocratic leaders approach management like the general of an army. The chain of command is top-down. They have a vision of how they want things done and there is no room for discussion or opposing views. This type of leader tends to be self-confident, provides a lot of structure, lacks flexibility, and ultimately must take responsibility for the team’s successes as well as its failures. Direct reports are accountable to the manager and are expected to follow commands without question. This type of management style is better suited to situations where there is a high degree of danger or if you have a lot of new and inexperienced employees. 

Democratic leaders take a different approach. They want to hear what the team is thinking and openly ask for their input in the decision-making process. They tend to be good listeners and mediators, and highly communicative. And they expect team members to hold themselves and each other accountable. This type of manager acts more like a coach and focuses on supporting team members and creating team cohesion. They do this by encouraging direct reports to openly share their thoughts and opinions. This type of management style works well in industries that benefit from open discussion and the sharing of opinions.  

Laissez-faire leaders are basically hands-off. They provide all necessary training and are available when a direct report needs help or guidance, but in general, this type of manager expects team members to make decisions for themselves and solve their own problems. They are released to innovate and use their creativity in order to reach an end goal or create a product. There are many industries where this type of management style is prominent like IT, advertising, retail buying and acting. However, it can be difficult for new employees, or those that aren’t self-motivated. It can also create confusion around who is actually in charge.  

Why I Manage the Way I Do 

Each of the three leadership styles will resonate with different people because each of us is wired in a particular way. Personality is an extension of that, which is why at Brilliant People™, we believe understanding your personality is key to being an effective leader – at any level. Who you are, how you show up, and especially how others perceive you, play into your ability to manage well. Partly because your personality impacts your priorities (the things you value most when managing others). 

For instance, a Dominant personality type typically prioritizes challenge, drive, and action. Whereas the Influencer type tends to prioritize action, encouragement, and collaboration. The Steady type typically prioritizes collaboration, support, and reliability. But the Conscientious type prioritizes reliability, objectivity, and challenge.  The tricky part is learning to manage yourself and your direct reports when your priorities differ as they inevitably will! Understanding your priorities and how they affect your management style is crucial because these priorities influence what you enjoy about managing, as well as what drains your energy.  

To dig a little deeper, ask yourself the following questions. And be honest!! 

  • What are the things you do in your role as a manager that you’re most proud of? 
  • What is your least favorite aspect of managing? 
  • What are your biggest fears when it comes to managing? 
  • What would you like for your direct reports to understand about your management style? 

How to Improve 

With the answers to the questions above, you have the data to start honing your management style. This is all about learning to whittle away at your weaknesses and continuing to build up your strengths. And one area in particular matters. To be a successful manager you must interact well with your direct reports. You have to learn to adapt to the personality types of the people you manage. One way to do this is to learn to read your people. Through observation, determine if they are fast-paced and outspoken or cautious and reflective. Or are they questioning and skeptical or accepting and warm? These will give insight into how you should approach managing each individual. It’s important to treat them the way they need rather than the way YOU prefer. Because sadly, the whole idea of ‘one- size –fits-all’ only works for ponchos. 


Fifty percent of Americans have left a job to “get away from their manager at some point in their career because sadly, as Peter Drucker once commented,

Most of what we call management consists of making it difficult for people to get their work done.

So, there’s obviously some serious work to be done by managers and the organizations that employ them.  But it will be worth it because as a manager you have a unique opportunity to make a difference in the lives of your direct reports as well as in the larger organization. Your demeanor and management style should complement the industry you work in and provide the foundation for the culture of the team or department. Whether you stay the course or blaze a new trail depends on many factors, but you can never go wrong by starting with introspection (considering the questions above) and creating self-awareness.  

If you’d like help with your management style, reach out to us today!

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