There is more than one way to achieve success and more than one way to manage a work team successfully. When you look at real-life CEOs or COOs of Fortune 500 businesses, no two management styles are alike. Considering these examples may help you find the management style best suits you and your goals.
In today’s blog, let’s explore different management styles through some of the well-known examples you can find in the real world.
The visionary manager sees the big picture, and their goal is to help their team see the big picture, too. They are communicators and dreamers who make sure everyone is on the same page, but they don’t micromanage too much. Instead, they leave the details of that big picture for their team to fill in. Visionary managers give the team a larger goal and then take a hands-off approach, letting their teams do the work on their own terms.
Steve Jobs is one of the most famous examples of the visionary management style. He not only had incredible visions for Apple and for the future of technology, but he inspired loyalty and motivation from his team in bringing those visions to life. Even twelve years after his death, he is still held up as one of the most revered innovators in history.
The autocratic management style is the sort of management style that people love or hate. It is sometimes considered a little too “authoritarian,” and it can cause issues of low morale within the office due to a sense of micromanaging. Those who support or use the autocratic management style praise its efficiency: managers can make decisions quickly and get results. Overall, the autocratic management style is one to be approached with caution, but it can be done successfully.
One good example of an autocratic manager in real life is Hollywood director Ridley Scott. Scott describes his interactions with investors and production teams for his movies by saying that he will listen to them, of course, but ultimately, he makes the call. In an interview with the DGA Quarterly, he said, “I think at the end of the day, filmmaking is a team, but eventually there’s got to be a captain. Therefore, that will finally boil down to saying, ‘Let’s do this, we’re going to go this way. No more talk, we’re going to do that.’”
A consultative management style is one where the manager invites feedback from their entire team and works that feedback into their decisions. Consultative managers have the last word on decisions, but they have an open-door policy, inviting employees and teammates to give feedback at any time. It is key to take that feedback into account and make sure your team knows they are heard.
Ray Dalio, renowned investor and founder of Bridgewater Associates, has been cited as an example of a consultative manager. He is known for encouraging feedback from all of his employees, no matter how far down the command chain they might be. Even junior managers are invited to give their input.
In a democratic management style, a manager is more of a mediator than a leader. Decisions are made with all of the input of the team in mind. Most decisions are made by vote, and there are frequent meetings to discuss the progress of different projects as well as next steps. The opposite of the autocratic management style, some lament the slow pace of democratic management; however, employees are often more engaged and fulfilled in their jobs when they have a say.
Muhtar Kent, the CEO of Coca-Cola, exemplifies democratic management. He has a style of leadership that treats employees as owners of their own work, and he is known for delegating executive power across the organization.
A laissez-faire manager thinks of themselves as a mentor to their employees. They monitor their team’s progress and offer feedback or advice when they can. Otherwise, they leave the progress and execution of projects to their team. Laissez-faire managers are hands-off, but they give their employees a strong sense of independence and control over their work.
Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, is perhaps the best-known laissez-faire manager. He looks for middle managers who are already capable and efficient in their work and invests in those managers, giving them the freedom to run their branch as they see fit. He serves as an example of how to do things at Berkshire Hathaway, but he trusts his middle management to know what they’re doing.