Tip #667: When to Adjust Your Management Style

“The best leaders don’t know just one style of leadership- they are skilled at several and have the flexibility to switch between styles as the circumstances dictate.”  Daniel Goleman

Management style depends on the task, the people and the situation that needs to be managed.

Daniel Goleman has identified six different management styles, each of which may be appropriate depending on the specific situation:

  1. Directive
  2. Authoritative
  3. Affiliative
  4. Participative
  5. Pacesetting
  6. Coaching

The most effective managers move from one style to another to get the best outcome, adopting the one that meets the needs of the moment. An effective manager’s repertoire should include many different management styles.

Six Management Styles
Management Style Main Objective Characteristics Motivational Approach Use Do Not Use
1.  Directive

“Do it the way I tell you to do it”

Immediate employee compliance Micromanages;

Closely controls employees


Uses threats and discipline There is a crisis;

Deviations are risky

Employees need to learn and  develop;

Employees are highly skilled

2.  Authoritative

“Come with me”

Long term direction and vision Provides clear direction


Uses persuasion and performance feedback Clear directions and standards are needed;

The manager has credibility

Employees need to learn and develop;

The manager has no credibility

3.  Affiliative

“People come first”

Harmony at all levels in the organization Avoids conflict

Wants employees to have good personal relationships


Tries to keep people happy Tasks are routine;

Performance is adequate;

Employees need counseling;

Conflict needs to be managed

Performance is not adequate;

There is a crisis


4.  Participative

“What do you think?”

Employee commitment and consensus Encourages employee input in decision making Rewards team effort Employees work well together;

Employees have experience and credibility;

The work environment is steady

Employees need to be coordinated;

There is a crisis;

Employees require close supervision


5.  Pacesetting

“Do as I do, now”

Achievement excellence Personally performs many tasks;

Expects employees to follow his/her example

Sets high standards and

expects self-directed employees

Highly motivated and competent employees;

Employees are experts;

Little direction or coordination is needed

Workload requires assistance from others;

Development, coaching and coordination are required

6.  Coaching

“Try this”

Long-term employee professional development Helps/ encourages employees to develop their strengths and improve their performance Provides opportunities for professional development Skill development is needed;

Employees are motivated and want to develop

The manager lacks expertise;

A poor performer refuses to improve;

There is a crisis

May your learning be sweet.


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