Essential Questions:

  1. Define the various types of management styles you may be exposed to at work
  2. What are application models to apply management styles?
  3. How does leadership differ from management?
  4. What are ways in which we can develop leadership skills, and what are those skills?

Leadership is action, not position.

Donald H. McGannon

Leaders don’t create followers, they create more leaders.

Tom Peters

The Biggest Challenge

Casey is the Human Resource manager at your company. You set an appointment with him because of some issues you are having with your supervisor.

“Casey,” you say, “I really need to vent. Can I sit down and talk with you?” Casey offers you a seat. You begin to tell him about Sam, your supervisor, and the way he has been managing your team lately.

You say, “Sam was a really great manager when he started here three months ago. He had individual meetings with all of us, and he asked a lot of questions. We were all really excited to have him as our new boss, because he really seemed to care and implemented some of our ideas.

“Lately, though, he seems to be short-tempered and seems to want to make all of the decisions. I have talked with him about it, but he doesn’t seem to notice that it has become a problem. In fact, I know of two people that are looking for other jobs because of it.”

Casey thinks about the situation and asks you if the timing of Casey’s behavior change was around the same time corporate people had come to visit.

“I hadn’t thought of that before, but yes, the timing would be about right.”

Casey explains that many of the managers have been told they need to make some changes in the organization, and these changes are those that must be done without feedback from employees.

Casey says that he knows it is different than the usual management style of the branch and asks you if you can hang on for a little longer. He believes once the changes are made, Sam will be back to his old self. In the meantime, Casey suggests you talk with your manager about your concerns.

Although you feel a bit nervous to do so, you feel talking with Sam might be the best thing for your department.

Management Styles

Learning Objectives

  1. Define the various types of management styles you may be exposed to at work.
  2. Explain how, when we become managers, we can determine which style to use in a variety of situations.
  3. Describe the process you may use for leadership development.
  4. Describe several different leadership styles you may use and their likely influence on followers.

As we saw in the opening case, most managers will use a variety of management styles depending upon the situation. In our scenario, Sam obviously may have gone too far in his use of management style. As we will discuss in this chapter, there are several management styles that can be used in a variety of situations. As you read this chapter, consider past managers and think about what style they may have used. Understanding management styles can help us become better managers or prepare us to take on the role of manager someday. In addition, understanding your manager’s style can be beneficial to know — as it can help you relate to him or her better.

Management style ties in very closely with communication style. There isn’t necessarily one management style that is better than another; they are simply different and might be used in a variety of situations.

Task Style versus People-Centered Style

When we look at the styles of management, we see that most styles fall into one of two categories: a task-oriented management style or a people-centered style.

A manager with a task-oriented style will focus on the technical or task aspects of the job. The concern for this manager is that employees know what is expected of them and have the tools needed to do their job.

A people-oriented style is more concerned with the relationships in the workplace. The manager emphasizes the interpersonal relations, as opposed to the task. The manager is most concerned about the welfare of the employee and tends to be friendly and trusting.

Understanding these two main differences in management style, we will now look at other possible styles a manager might use.

Participatory, Directing, or Teamwork Styles

Utilization of a participatory management style involves both a task-oriented style and a people-centered style. This style emphasizes how the employee’s assigned task fits into the bigger picture. This style will provide support and input where needed. As a result, the focus is on the task but also on the person and the relationships required to get the task done. This style might be used when the employees are experienced and the deadlines reasonable enough to provide the time needed to focus both on the task and the person. If more hands-on management is required, a directing management style might be appropriate (“Three Effective Management Styles,” Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corp., 2010, accessed February 5, 2010, http://smallbusiness.dnb.com/human-resources/workforce-management/11438-1.html). Consider a very tight deadline or an emergency situation in which someone needs to be calling the shots. For example, assume you own a business that creates specialty home-baked dog treats. You just received an order for one hundred dog cookies by later this afternoon. You might consider using a directing style with your employees to make sure it gets done on time. This style doesn’t focus on the person but rather on getting the task done; hence it tends to be more of a task-oriented style.

A manager who uses a teamwork management style believes there is a value (or necessity) in having people work in teams. As a result, this style tends to require a people-centered approach. Relationships are most important, and assuming the individuals work well together, the task will be successfully accomplished. The advantage to this style, given the type of task and situation, is that as a manager you are able to pool resources and abilities from several different people. Use of a team style can also provide big benefits for the company. For example, Google uses a teamwork approach it calls “grouplets.” Google believes that individuals should be able to spend time on something that interests them and is also company related. Engineers at Google spend 20 percent of their time on this endeavor. As a result, grouplets are formed, and the grouplet works on their idea with no specific budget. Some of the best ideas from Google have come through this teamwork process. Gmail, in fact, was developed using a grouplet (Bharat Mediratta, as told to Julie Bick, “The Google Way: Give Engineers Room,” New York Times, October 21, 2007, accessed February 15, 2010, http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/21/jobs/21pre.html).

Autocratic, Participative, and Free-Reign Styles

An autocratic style of management involves the task-oriented style. The focus is on getting things done, and relationships are secondary. This type of manager tends to tell people what to do and takes a “my way or the highway” approach. Another description for this type of manager is a taskmaster. This person uses his or her authority and makes all the decisions as to who does what, how it is done, and when it should get done.

On the other hand, a participative style constantly seeks input from the employees. Setting goals, making plans, and determining objectives are viewed as a group effort, rather than the manager making all the decisions.

At the other extreme, a free-rein style gives employees total freedom to make decisions on how things will get done. The manager may establish a few objectives, but the employees can decide how those objectives are met. In other words, the leader tends to be removed from the day-to-day activities but is available to help employees deal with any situation that may come up.

Path Goal Model for Leadership

The path goal theory says that the role of a leader is to define goals and lay down the path for the employees to meet those goals. Aspects include clarification of the task and scope of the process. Clarification of the employee’s role and clarification around how the success of the task will be measured are key aspects in this model. The leader also is involved in guidance and coaching surrounding the goal and removes obstacles for employees that might affect the completion of the task. The path goal theory says that if employees are satisfied by the leadership style, they will be motivated toward the goals of leadership. Part of the model also stresses that the skills, experience, and environmental contingencies of the job play a role in the success of the leader (Figure 1).


Figure 1: Path Goal Model for Leadership

Applying Management Styles

It is great to talk about management style, but the application of that management style is just as important as knowing the management styles. In this section, we will discuss how and when you might use each style when managing people. If you aren’t managing people yet, consider the style your current (or past) manager uses. Do you think it is effective based on our discussion?

Another way we can view leadership is through the situational leadership model.Ken Blanchard, Patricia Zigarmi, and Drea Zigarmi, Leadership and the One Minute Manager (New York: HarperCollins Entertainment, 2000). This model, developed by Ken Blanchard (author of the One Minute Manager series of books), does a good job explaining how we might use one type of management style versus another.

The model looks at three areas: the relationship behavior of the manager, the task behavior of the manager, and the readiness of employees. The relationship behavior means how supportive the manager needs to be in helping employees. Task behavior refers to the type of style the manager should use when managing employees based on their readiness level. Readiness includes the willingness and skills to perform the task at hand. Depending on where the employees fall in each of these areas, a manager might use a different style:

  • D4 — High competence, high commitment. Experienced at the job and comfortable with their own ability to do it well. May even be more skilled than the leader.
  • D3 — High competence, variable commitment. Experienced and capable but may lack the confidence to go it alone or the motivation to do it well/quickly.
  • D2 — Some competence, low commitment. May have some relevant skills but won’t be able to do the job without help. The task or the situation may be new to them.
  • D1 — Low competence, high commitment. Generally lacking the specific skills required for the job at hand but has the confidence and/or motivation to tackle it.

Based on the readiness and commitment of the employee, the leader can see what management style and level of support the employee should experience:Situational Leadership Grid, Chimaera Consulting, 2008, accessed February 4, 2010, http://www.chimaeraconsulting.com/models.htm.

  • S1 — Telling/directing — High task focus, low relationship focus. Leaders define the roles and tasks of the “follower” and supervise them closely. Decisions are made by the leader and announced, so communication is largely one way. This style can be used with people who lack competence but are enthusiastic and committed and who need direction and supervision to get them started.
  • S2 — Selling/coaching — High task focus, high relationship focus. Leaders still define roles and tasks but seek ideas and suggestions from the follower. Decisions remain the leader’s prerogative, but communication is much more two-way. This approach can be used with people who have some competence but lack commitment and who need direction and supervision because they are still relatively inexperienced. These individuals may also need support and praise to build their self-esteem and involvement in decision making to restore their commitment.
  • S3 — Participating/supporting — Low task focus, high relationship focus. Leaders pass day-to-day decisions, such as task allocation and processes, to the follower. The leader facilitates and takes part in decisions, but control is given to the follower. This style can be used with people who have the necessary competence but lack confidence or motivation. These individuals may need little direction because of their skills, but support is necessary to bolster their confidence and motivation.
  • S4 — Delegating — Low task focus, low relationship focus. Leaders are still involved in decisions and problem solving, but control is with the follower. The follower decides when and how the leader will be involved. This style would work with people who have both competence and commitment and who are able and willing to work on a project by themselves with little supervision or support.

The bottom line when discussing management style is that no one style works best in all situations. We may be more comfortable with one style versus another, but we need to change our management style depending on the person and task we are working with. For example, if you have an employee who is brand new, you will likely work with that person using a more directive style. As she develops, you might change to a participative style. Likewise, someone who does good work and has lots of experience may prefer a free-rein style. Many managers make the mistake of trying to use the same style with every person in every situation. To be a great manager, we must change our styles based on the situation and the individual involved (Figure 2).


Figure 2: Blanchard’s Situational Leadership Model

How does this relate to human relations? First, how people are managed is one of the most important aspects to motivation in any organization. Understanding “good” management and “not so good” management can help develop us for when we are placed in management positions, if we aren’t already.

Key Takeaways

Just like in communication, a different management style should be used depending on the employee.

Task styles focus on getting the job done, while people-centered styles focus on relationships.

A participatory style involves both task-oriented and people-centered styles. A directing style is focused on the task and doesn’t allow for employee participation. A teamwork style focuses on teamwork and is a people-oriented style. The advantage of this style is the ability to use strengths from everyone on the team.

An autocratic style doesn’t allow much room for employee decision making; the focus is on getting the task done. A participative style constantly requires input from employees. The free-rein style gives employees freedom to make decisions on how things will get done.

The situational leadership model, which looks at relationship behavior, task behavior, and the readiness of employees, is used to recommend different management styles.

No one management style works in all situations. Just like with communication, you will likely want to vary your approach based on the situation to get the best results.


  1. Why is it important to understand management style in a human relations course? Discuss at least three points.
  2. What combinations of management style might you use in each of these situations and why?
  3. You are considering a major change in the way your company does business. Your staff has an excellent record of achieving goals, and your relationship with them is trusting and supportive.
  4. Your employees do a great job. A situation has developed in which you need to make quick decisions and finish a project by the end of the week.
  5. Your employees are having trouble getting the job done. Their performance as a whole is less than expected.
  6. You have an employee who is very motivated but has little experience.

Leadership versus Management

Many people use the term leadership as interchangeable with management, but the two terms are actually quite different. The term management implies someone has been given a position, and through that position or title they have power to guide others. Leadership, on the other hand, does not require specific titles. Consider the last group project you worked on for school. It was likely that someone took on the leadership role for this project, such as coordinating schedules, e-mailing the team, and so forth. This person did not have a formal title but lead the group anyway. This is an example of leadership. To be successful at our jobs, we must show leadership skills. These leadership skills can come from our emotional intelligence skills — for example, self-awareness, self-management, relationship management, and social awareness. All emotional intelligence skills are needed to be a successful leader. For example, if you are the informal leader for your group project and feel frustrated with response times, you must have the ability to be aware of this emotion and manage it by not yelling at your team member when you see them!

Getting the team to work better together requires social awareness skills, or the ability to understand how actions of one team member may affect another. Finally, relationship management is necessary to manage group conflict and maintain good relationships with your team. As you can see, leadership encompasses all of the emotional intelligence skills we have been discussing throughout the book. Do you think leadership comes natural to some and not to others?

Whether or not there is a “natural leader,” born with a combination of talents and traits that enable a person to lead others, has been a subject of debate across time. In a modern context, we have come to recognize that leadership comes in many form and representations. Once it was thought that someone with presence of mind, innate intelligence, and an engaging personality was destined for leadership, but modern research and experience shows us otherwise. Just as a successful heart surgeon has a series of skill sets, so does a dynamic leader. A television producer must both direct and provide space for talent to create, balancing control with confidence and trust. This awareness of various leadership styles serves our discussion as groups and teams often have leaders, and they may not always be the person who holds the title, status, or role.

Leaders take on the role because they are appointed, elected, or emerge into the role. The group members play an important role in this process. An appointed leader is designated by an authority to serve in that capacity, irrespective of the thoughts or wishes of the group. They may serve as the leader and accomplish all the designated tasks, but if the group does not accept their role as leader, it can prove to be a challenge. As Bruce TuckmanTuckman, B. (1965). Developmental sequence in small groups. Psychological Bulletin, 63, 384–99. notes, “storming” occurs as group members come to know each other and communicate more freely, and an appointed leader who lacks the endorsement of the group may experience challenges to his or her authority.

A democratic leader is elected or chosen by the group but may also face serious challenges. If individual group members or constituent groups feel neglected or ignored, they may assert that the democratic leader does not represent their interests. The democratic leader involves the group in the decision-making process and ensures group ownership of the resulting decisions and actions as a result. Open and free discussions are representative of this process, and the democratic leader acknowledges this diversity of opinion.

An emergent leader contrasts the first two paths to the role by growing into the role, often out of necessity. The appointed leader may know little about the topic or content, and group members will naturally look to the senior member with the most experience for leadership. If the democratic leader fails to bring the group together or does not represent the whole group, subgroups may form, each with an informal leader serving as spokesperson.

Types of Leaders

Thomas Harris and John Sherblom (T. Harris and J. Sherblom, Small group and team communication(Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon, 1999). specifically note three leadership styles that characterize the modern business or organization and reflect our modern economy. We are not born leaders but may become them if the context or environment requires our skill set. A leader-as-technician role often occurs when we have skills that others do not. If you can fix the copy machine at the office, your leadership and ability to get it running again are prized and sought-after skills. You may instruct others on how to load the paper or how to change the toner, and even though your pay grade may not reflect this leadership role, you are looked to by the group as a leader within that context. Technical skills, from Internet technology to facilities maintenance, may experience moments where their particular area of knowledge is required to solve a problem. Their leadership will be in demand.

The leader-as-conductor involves a central role of bringing people together for a common goal. In the common analogy, a conductor leads an orchestra and integrates the specialized skills and sounds of the various components the musical group comprises. In the same way, a leader who conducts may set a vision, create benchmarks, and collaborate with a group as they interpret a set script. Whether it is a beautiful movement in music or a group of teams that comes together to address a common challenge, the leader-as-conductor keeps the time and tempo of the group.

Coaches are often discussed in business-related books as models of leadership for good reason. A leader-as-coach combines many of the talents and skills we’ve discussed here, serving as a teacher, motivator, and keeper of the goals of the group. A coach may be autocratic at times, give pointed direction without input from the group, and stand on the sidelines while the players do what they’ve been trained to do and make the points. The coach may look out for the group and defend it against bad calls and may motivate players with words of encouragement. We can recognize some of the behaviors of coaches, but what specific traits have a positive influence on the group? Thomas Peters and Nancy AustinT. Peters and N. Austin, A Passion for Excellence: The Leadership Difference (New York, NY: Random House, 1985). identify five important traits that produce results:

  1. Orientation and education
  2. Nurturing and encouragement
  3. Assessment and correction
  4. Listening and counseling
  5. Establishing group emphasis

Coaches are teachers, motivators, and keepers of the goals of the group. There are times when members of the team forget that there is no “I” in the word “team.” At such times, coaches serve to redirect the attention and energy of the individuals to the overall goals of the group. They conduct the group with a sense of timing and tempo, and at times, they relax and let the members demonstrate their talents. Through their listening skills and counseling, they come to know each member as an individual but keep the team focus for all to see. They set an example. Coaches, however, are human and by definition are not perfect. They can and do prefer some players over others and can display less than professional sideline behavior when they don’t agree with the referee, but the style of leadership is worthy of your consideration in its multidisciplinary approach. Coaches use more than one style of leadership and adapt to the context and environment. A skilled business communicator will recognize that this approach has its merits.

Since we have discussed both leadership and management in this chapter, you can see where the difference between the two is not altogether clear. Either way, looking toward future careers it can be valuable to understand both management and management styles as well as the process of leader development over time.

Why Human Relations?

As we have discussed in this chapter, you do not need a fancy title to be a leader. To be an effective leader, you must exhibit all aspects of emotional intelligence skills. For example, good leaders will know themselves well and know their strengths and weaknesses. Good leaders also know their feelings from moment to moment and they have learned how to handle those emotions. Good leaders have many similar qualities, such as empathy, ethics, understanding, and patience. These skills are also emotional intelligence skills — specifically, social awareness and relationship management skills.

Social awareness skills are key in leadership, including reading and interpreting social cues and body language, setting goals, resolving conflict, understanding the perspectives of others, and a positive attitude. A leader is someone people want to be around, because they have a certain charisma that draws us to them! Leaders are also excellent at relationship management in that they handle relationships with others well. Remember, you do not need a fancy title to be a leader, but showing these skills in the workplace can not only make you a happier person but also show your supervisor you are ready to move up within your organization.

Key Takeaways

Leadership is a bit different than management in that management includes a “title” while leadership and the leadership development process can occur without a title.

Leaders can be appointed into a role, elected into the role, or emerge into the role of leader.

There are three types of leaders. The first is leader as technician — meaning the person who takes the leadership role has skills we may not have.

The second, leader as conductor role, involves a central role of bringing people together to reach a common goal.

The third, leader as coach, combines many talents and skills, such as teacher and motivator.

Many leaders will use a variety of approaches, depending on the situation.


  1. Think of a leader you admire and respect. How did this individual become a leader — for example, by appointment, democratic selection, or emergence? How would you characterize this leader’s style — is the leader autocratic or laissez-faire, a technician or a coach? Write three paragraphs and describe.

Chapter Summary and Case

Chapter Summary

  • Just like in communication, a different management style should be used depending on the employee.
  • Task styles focus on getting the job done, while people-centered styles focus on relationships.
  • A participatory style involves both task-oriented and people-centered styles. A directing style is focused on the task and doesn’t allow for employee participation.
  • A teamwork style focuses on teamwork and is a people-oriented style. The advantage of this style is the ability to use strengths from everyone on the team.
  • An autocratic style doesn’t allow much room for employee decision making; the focus is on getting the task done. A participative style constantly requires input from employees. The free-rein stylegives employees freedom to make decisions on how things will get done.
  • The situational leadership model, which looks at relationship behavior, task behavior, and the readiness of employees, is used to recommend different management styles.
  • No one management style works in all situations. Just like with communication, you will likely want to vary your approach based on the situation to get the best results.
  • Leadership and management are similar, although management implies a specific title. Leadership may be selected in a variety of ways, such as an appointment leader, democratic leader or emergent leader. Some people may be excellent leaders, although they may not have a formal title within an organization.
  • Depending on the situation, a leader may take on a variety of roles to solve challenges.

Chapter Case

You own a regional gifts store in your town. The store opened in 2009 and the same four people have worked together since that time. Recently, the manager left and you need to hire a new manager. You have decided that one of the four people currently working for you would definitely be great for the job, but you need to create a list of criteria for the job and then compare it with the skills of your existing employees. Your task is to develop specific criteria or a “wish list” of skills and abilities for this job based on three different aspects:

  1. Skills needed for the job
  2. Human relations skills
  3. Leadership skills

Once you have created the criteria, rank the skills in each category and provide a written description as to why you ranked as you did.


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