Understanding different management styles can help you become a better leader.

A female manager stands in front of an enthusiastic, diverse team.In the business management world, the difference between good managers and bad managers can be the difference between success and failure. Years of research have demonstrated how good management positively affects an organization’s bottom line or, in the case of government agencies and nonprofits, its ability to efficiently deliver critical services.* And yet, as anyone who has ever had a job knows, bad management skills remain all too common. One solution? Better managers.

If you want to become the kind of manager who helps promote success, you can help yourself acquire the skills you’ll need by earning a graduate degree in leadership, particularly a master’s degree. However, it’s never too soon to start thinking about what kind of manager you should be. To help, here are six of the most common management styles in business. While no style is perfect, knowing which styles are most common can make it easier for you to craft a management style that works for you.

The Problem-Solving Style

Managers who adopt a problem-solving style manage by personally addressing the most pressing problems facing their team. They like to fix things themselves and spend all day focusing on putting out fires (real and perceived). While this style can help you get through serious problems, you can also end up so focused on individual issues that you fail to see the big picture and/or fail to give your team the space it needs to develop and learn to solve problems on its own.

The Pitchfork-Wielding Style

Pitchfork wielders hound their team, constantly demanding progress and holding individuals accountable for falling short of goals and for failing to follow specific rules and guidelines. Needless to say, if you exclusively operate like this, your team will fear you. But a frightened team is a team that will rarely innovate or feel connected to the greater goals of the business.

The Shoot-From-The-Hip Style

Managers who shoot from the hip don’t really have a management style per se. Instead, they change their style based on what they think the situation requires and/or a specific team member needs. This changeability can be useful if you’re faced with diverse projects and a team with a wide range of personalities, but the inconsistency that comes with the habit of making it up as you go along can force projects down the wrong paths and leave your team unfocused and confused.

The Me-First Style

Managers who put themselves first make decisions based on what’s best for their careers, bonuses, sales figures, etc. They expect their team to work for their personal or professional benefit. If this is your style, you’re likely to end up with a team that lacks motivation and is always losing personnel thanks to team members quitting to find jobs that better support their own careers.

The Perfecting Style

Perfecting managers are eager to seek out better ways to get things done. They surround themselves with facts and figures and readily embrace innovation with the goal of continually evolving and improving the business. This is a great style in many ways. Innovation and the desire to improve are positive traits for a manager. But if you take this style too far, you will rob your team of the consistency it needs to be truly productive. Plus, an overemphasis on improving processes can hurt your ability to relate to employees as individuals.

The Make-Everyone-Happy Style

Some managers focus most of their energy on making sure everyone on their team is happy with their job and tasks. While happy employees are a positive, managers who want nothing but smiles are often too passive to lead their team to any real success.

Which Style Should You Embrace?

The top business schools would tell you that none of the above styles are perfect. And they’re right. To be an effective manager, you need to find ways to embrace the good qualities of the most common management styles while avoiding the negative qualities. How do you do that?

As mentioned above, earning a master’s degree in leadership can help you learn how to be a great manager. This graduate degree focuses on the qualities that make a good leader in the modern world, and can give you the skills you need to properly assess the management styles above and construct the right one for you and your team.

The best part is that earning an MS degree is more convenient than ever before thanks to online learning. Many of the best business schools online offer a Master of Science in Leadership, giving you the opportunity to earn your MS degree from home and on a schedule that allows you to continue working full time. An MS in Leadership online program can be the perfect educational choice if you want to be a successful manager.

Walden University is an accredited institution offering an online MS in Leadership degree program. Expand your career options and earn your degree in a convenient, flexible format that fits your busy life.


*N. Bloom, R. Sadun, and J. Van Reenen, Does Management Really Work?, Harvard Business Review, on the internet at https://hbr.org/2012/11/does-management-really-work.

Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, www.hlcommission.org.

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