Becoming an effective leader

Outcome 1 

1.1 - Evaluate own ability to use a range of leadership styles, in different situations and with different types of people, to fulfil the leadership role

Management theory and approaches

4 Basics

There are 4basic styles of management that can be used by new managers.

It is recognised that the manger that has the widest range of flexibility of style, has the greatest chance of achieving their outcome or getting the best from their staff.

Many mangers use 1 style and stick to it despite believing that they change their style to fit the person. Be wary of this. Changing our approach with each person can lead to a chameleon type personality and this can be factor in losing the trust of others. If you change too much you will ultimately be seen as being fake in your approach.

The rule of thumb is to change the style of management to fit the context or the situation and not try to change your personality to fit the person.

It is also a bit of a myth that we change at all to fit with others. The key difference is the nature of our relationship and that dictates the shift in approach rather than a conscious intended change to get the best from others.

The 4 basic styles of management are Autocratic, Democratic, Consultative and Laissez Faire.

Autocratic style – This is the most directive style of management in which the manager provides the individual with specific instructions and may carry out close monitoring of the work that is done to ensure successful completion of the task.

The manager may not need to offer much by way of supportive behaviour since the individual is not given any freedom to determine how the task is to be completed.

This is possibly the most common method of management and indeed is often what new managers see as being the way mangers should work. It is important to break a myth about his style.

You don’t have to be a nasty or aggressive person to be an Autocratic manager. You may apologies, acknowledge that the other person is busy, thank them profusely but still carry out the request in an Autocratic style.


The democratic style is in contrast to the autocratic. The democratic style gives others the opportunity to contribute ideas to the decision or the action. It is commonly used by managers with a combination of persuasion.

Here the manager makes the decision first and then attempts to persuade the employee that he or she has made the right decision. This is not to be confused with the idea of ‘getting them to think it is their idea’. This approach is manipulative. Persuasion is sharing an idea but leaving the other person with a recognition they chose for themselves.

In a group situation the decision or action agreed by the majority is usually followed when using this style.



The consultative style – A consultative management style can be viewed as a combination of democratic and autocratic. The manager will ask for views and opinions from staff, allowing them to feel involved, but will ultimately make the final decision.

This style is harder to execute than you might think. In order to use consultative management effectively you have to be able to firstly put aside your thoughts and ideas and be fully open to those of others.

If you ask for an opinion and then try to sell your idea or thoughts, you are not really consulting. It becomes clear quite quickly to others that whilst you asked for a view, you had already decided what you wanted to hear. Others then question why you bothered to ask them in the first place and this can destroy trust.

Laissez faire management is when a manger sets out the outcomes of the tasks and then gives staff complete freedom to complete the task as they see fit. There tends to be little further involvement from the manager unless it is requested or at the end of the task or project.

There is no right or wrong style unless a style is used in an inappropriate context.

However, one problem can be an excessive use of any one style.

Some managers will proudly claim to always consult. This overuse of this style can lead to a view that the manager cannot make their own decisions or needs confirmation from others at all times. A potential sign of un-confident management.

Remember, what people prefer and what they are used to is not the same. Team members may tell you they prefer to be told what to do but this may be what they are used to and haven’t had the experience of being encouraged to solve problems or create ideas for themselves. 


Activity - what are the benefits and pitfalls of each style?








So no style is the right or the wrong one to use. Things go wrong when the wrong style is used in the wrong context or when a manger uses only 1 or  2 styles or when the manger doesn’t try other styles because they think their teams prefer a particular style although other styles may not have been tried. And of course, trying something once or twice and deciding it doesn’t work is not a robust way of establishing the benefit of a management style.

So consider the context, then decide on the appropriate style of management to fit that context and aim to use a range.