There are numerous perspectives on the different types of “small business management styles.” To help you identify your type, or learn more about, we’ve outlined eight different small business styles below.
Active leadership: Active leaders tend to lead by example and set a high standard for themselves and their employees. They wouldn’t ask an employee to take on a task they’d be unwilling to do themselves. They are highly involved in the day-to-day work and fully aware of what’s taking place in the office.
Democratic leadership: This style seeks to take all stakeholders’ opinions into account and achieve consensus before reaching a final decision. While this style can be frustratingly slow, having all parties involved in a decision can make for an easier and more seamless implementation process. This style promotes more trust, harmony, productivity and job satisfaction in the overall organization.
Directive leadership: Although less authoritative than autocratic managers, directive leaders do not typically solicit employee input. They often cite a short time-frame, an unpredictable client or an emergency situation as the reason for acting unilaterally. Often this may be true. Other times, they may just have a bit more difficulty letting go of control.
Paternalistic leadership: This style is also similar to autocratic, except more sensitive to employees perspectives. Managers who embrace this style are concerned with employees’ feelings and well-being. However, they will not place individuals ahead of the organization’s success.
Participatory leadership: Based on a coaching philosophy, this style focuses on empowering employees to seek their own knowledge and make their own decisions when appropriate. It can be very effective in fluid work environments with shifting priorities. A more advanced version of this style is the flat management style, where different managers take the lead on projects, depending on their expertise.
Servant leadership: Based on a “people-come-first” philosophy, this style has been made famous by writer Robert Greenleaf. The style is based on finding the most talented people to run your organization and then empowering them to do what they do best. The leader sees him or herself as a “servant” to the customer and encourages employees to adopt the same attitude.
Task-oriented leadership: Leaders who use this business style may have once been project managers. They are experts in planning projects, allocating resources, assigning roles, setting benchmarks and keeping to strict deadlines.
You may recognize yourself in some of these small business or business management styles and may be turned off by others. You could even aspire to start using a style that’s unfamiliar to you. Or, you may realize you need to play up one or more of the styles to keep your staff happy. No matter what you decide about your own style, you should give it some careful thought, because it is always better to manage with self-awareness than blindly. Which style(s) would you identify yourself as having? What do you think works? Does not work?
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