If you have ever spent longer than 15 minutes on LinkedIn, there is a very good chance that you have seen:
Management styles blog title picture
But that’s not to say that one employee leaving is a major cause for concern. Everyone reacts to management styles in differing ways. The goal of management is to create an environment in which the subordinates have everything they need to succeed in their role.
To this end, there are many ways to skin a cat. Over the last 100 years or so, management styles have developed.
Employee engagement is dropping at a rapid rate across the world. The latest figures from Gallup measure engagement in the UK as low as 11%. Dan Rodrigues, our resident UX/UI hero, recently interviewed LateRooms head of employee engagement on the subject.

“Employees and your talent are your most valuable asset. Engaged employees means they are more motivated, more committed to you and to your business.”

We decided to take a closer look at what are the five most common management styles you will find in the 21st-century workplace. From Autocratic to Laissez-Faire. We will be critiquing each approach with our thoughts on their effectiveness.


Factory in the evening

A style that grew in popularity with the industrial revolution. Autocratic managers view their employees as resources within the supply chain. To suggest these are the roles replaced by robots is a fair assumption.
Authoritarian leadership leaves no consideration for the thoughts & feelings of the worker. Financial rewards are the only motivator in the workplace.
This led to bully cultures within autocratic environments. which studies have shown to cause both psychological & social health problems.
This depersonalisation comes from McGregor’s Theory X & Theory Y.
Theory X managers (authoritarians) think workers turn up to collect wages and go home. You just try to fob them off with the old “find a job you love” quote.
They’ll have none of it.
How can leadership like that inspire employees to go above & beyond?
There is a time and a place for autocratic leadership. But we would suggest it belongs nowhere near an industry as creative as the Tech & Digital sector.

Transformational Vs. Transactional leadership

Three stages of a butterfly leaving the cucoon

CIO define Transformational leadership as;
A style that encourages, inspires & motivates employees to innovate and create change that will help shape the future of the company.
Quite a mouthful.
Particularly common in the Tech & Digital Market, Transformational leaders seek to develop and grow their employees to get the best work out of them. The key values of a Transformational leader will be authenticity, cooperation, and open communication. Managers will act as a coach and mentor to their workers, allowing employees to take ownership of their tasks through success & failure.
Contrast this with Transactional leadership; you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.
Key attributes of a Transactional manager are supervision, oversight, organisation, and performance monitoring. Like Autocratic leadership, these managers will ask something from their subordinate for something in return. Likely to be a reward or incentive for a good job or lack of for poor performance.
Just like each style we have looked at, both have their place within the world of work. But, focusing on the Tech & Digital sector it is hard to see a place for Transactional leadership here. Whilst many roles are task-oriented, for a company to continually improve then employees must look for innovations to evolve.
Innovative and fast-paced in its nature, a business that encourages employees to think outside the box and innovate new products for the market will find greater success than one that sticks to structure and routine.
That’s just Darwinism.


Paternalistic management


If Goldilocks had a day job, this would be the management style for her.
Not micromanaged by an autocratic boss, and not left to her own devices by a Laissez-Faire leader.
A Paternalistic leader seeks to support employees as and when they need it. This manager will also take the time to get to know an employee’s home life and develop a picture of their motivations. understanding that most people don’t want money but are more motivated by what they can do with that money.
To be a Paternalistic manager takes a high level of emotional intelligence. Emotional Intelligence (EQ) measures a person’s ability to perceive, use, understand & manage the emotions of themselves and others.
The correlation between EQ & Paternalistic leadership is strong. To achieve anything in this environment a manager must have a sixth sense of how their workers are feeling and how engaged with work they are. There is a Psychological Contract to leadership, but more on that later.
Boundaries are set between manager and subordinate that are then respected by both. This is likely to involve a level of discussion on mutually exclusive matters, meaning a greater level of job enrichment from the control an employee will feel they share. Yet, there are times where the manager will make a ruling and the employee must accept their decision as they respect the manager’s position within the hierarchy.


Laissez Faire management

From one extreme to the other, the ‘hands-off’ approach takes a lot of guts and trust from the leader. It is the high risk / high reward management style that any employee would tell you they prefer.
But when is it effective?
As we said, this requires an awful lot of trust from a manager in their employees. But it also demands honesty and a high level of accountability from workers. If you are the type of worker to chill out and put yourself in flight mode when the boss leaves the office early, then this really isn’t for you.
Alongside the physical contract you sign when you join a company, there is also a psychological contract. A set of unwritten rules that you, and your manager, abide by.
This manages expectation between both parties. If you have arrived at the office late and made up the time after you would normally finish, then you have done so according to this contract.
Laissez-Faire leadership relies on the strength of both parties’ commitment to this contract. The accountability of the employee dictates the success of the team, as a manager will only intervene to avoid a disaster.
The ‘hands-off’ approach is known for skyrocketing job enrichment and boosting belongingness within teams, as workers feel empowered by the autonomy they have over their role.
We can see where Laissez-Faire fits in within the Tech & Digital landscape, especially within teams of remote workers. If you can trust someone to work from home or their favourite coffee shop, then you must trust that they will hold themselves to account for the work they produce when you’re not watching.

How engaged are your teams?

We regularly provide feedback on the engagement of a team. We fully understand the importance of a cohesive team that all singing from the same hymn sheet.

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