What are the Different Management Styles

Managers play a critical role in how happy employees feel at work and how loyal they are to the business. So whether you’re working in hospitality welcoming and entertaining guests, or in customer service, successfully managing a team is vital to achieving your goals. Being an effective manager is more than just delegating tasks.

It’s also about knowing how to motivate, engage and inspire your employees to get the best out of them and keep them focused and working hard for your company.

With so many different management styles and contrasting advice out there, it can be difficult to know which direction to go in to start building or improving your management skills. To help, we’ve outlined some of the best managerial styles to focus on as well as some of the worst managerial styles to avoid

What is a management style?

what is management style - management team in discussion

In any industry, great management is crucial to business success. It keeps teams running smoothly, creates a positive work environment and ensures staff feel engaged and motivated in their day-to-day jobs. A person’s management style describes how they manage their work tasks and team to successfully achieve business goals.

It includes how a manager plans, delegates, makes decisions and manages personnel issues. Every manager has their own natural leadership style and strengths.

But to be an excellent manager it’s important to understand your own style, where you can improve and how to adapt it to suit the needs of your team and company.

What are the four types of management styles?

Every manager and team is different, so there’s no one-size-fits-all best managerial style. There are, however, four distinct types of management styles that provide a good starting point.

1. Visionary management style

A visionary is someone who inspires others. This management style is all about clearly communicating a strong common purpose and inspiring teams to work hard to achieve it. A visionary manager avoids micromanaging. They set out the team’s mission and empower staff to complete tasks in a way that works for them.

They demonstrate trust while providing support and offer constructive feedback while dishing out plenty of praise. Most of us relish autonomy, appreciate the encouragement to grow and enjoy receiving a thank you for a job well done. In this way, visionary management is an effective style for making staff feel valued, trusted and motivated.

2. Transformational management style

Transformation means change, so transformational managers focus on innovation and growth to make sure the business stays ahead of the curve. Transformational managers recognize the skills and talent of their team. They challenge and push their staff to think outside the box and do more than they might have thought they could.

It’s this encouragement and belief that keeps teams motivated and focused on consistently improving performance. Transformational management can be risky if managers push their staff too hard or spread them too thinly. When done right, it can be a successful strategy for promoting employee development, encouraging innovation and helping teams succeed.

3. Democratic management style

In a democracy, the majority rules. In democratic management, it’s all about bringing your team into the decision-making process. Democratic managers understand that employees bring a wealth of experience and perspectives and they make people feel valued by involving them.

Although the manager will always approve the final decision, by involving staff in the process, they create a joint strategy and vision. This effective style of management boosts morale, creates trusting relationships and encourages teams to work hard to achieve goals.

4. Coaching management style

Coaches want to help people perform at their best. A coaching management style focuses on helping employees grow and reach their full professional potential. A coaching manager thinks long-term, so isn’t afraid of short-term failure in the pursuit of learning and overall better performance.

They keep staff engaged and motivated by offering employee development opportunities like training, extra responsibilities and promotions. Coaching managers tend to have strong, supportive relationships with their staff; but they also run the risk of creating issues if they’re not even-handed in their support. It’s important to be fair and to encourage a supportive and united team when using this management style.

What are some management styles to avoid?

Although it can sometimes be difficult to pinpoint exactly what makes a brilliant manager, most of us know what makes a terrible one. These four different types of management styles are definitely ones to avoid if you want to be an effective and popular manager.

1. Autocratic management style

As opposed to democratic management, autocratic management takes a hierarchical, top-down approach focused on obedience. Only those at the top are involved in decision-making, without collaboration or input from their teams.

Autocratic managers delegate down and expect unwavering obedience with no challenge from employees. They punish rather than reward and motivate through fear, guilt and shame. This generally leads to low morale, little innovation, poor employee engagement and high staff turnover. After all, few of us want to work for a dictator.

2. Servant management style

In contrast to autocratic managers, servant managers are overly focused on team well-being and shy away from confrontation. They are friendly and encouraging managers but make the mistake of thinking this alone will motivate hard work.

Servant managers don’t address poor performance, so staff often feel disengaged and under no pressure to perform. This can lead to generally low-quality work, little trust and poor morale. Employees who want to achieve goals and work hard soon feel frustrated and leave, which is bad news for any team.

3. Laissez-faire management style

While it’s good to empower staff, laissez-faire (it means “allow to do” in French) managers suffer from being too hands-off. They don’t proactively check in or support staff but expect high performance to happen organically.

Laissez-faire managers provide no supervision and leave teams to make all the decisions. In the short-term, staff might enjoy the freedom. However, without guidance or a shared vision they will quickly lose motivation. They’ll feel neglected, unsure and ineffective as they get pulled in different directions and find it difficult to achieve any goals.

4. Transactional management style

In a transactional management style, people see management purely as a transaction – think “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours”.

Transactional managers attempt to motivate teams with incentives and rewards, like financial bonuses. In the short term this can be a motivator, but in the long term it tends to wear off and employee engagement drops. Employees will feel engaged and motivated long-term when they are inspired by the company mission, trusted, supported and involved in decisions.

Management styles in hospitality

management style in hospitality

If you want to progress and be successful in your hospitality career, it’s important to think about the management style you use and hone your management skills to get the best out of your team. Visionary, transformational, democratic and coaching management styles can all be useful in different hospitality settings, for example:

  • Transformational management pushes hotel teams to constantly adapt and improve with changing customer demands.
  • Democratic management can be successful in bringing travel and tourism colleagues together and collaborating on the goals of the business.
  • Visionary management inspires luxury brand management teams to go the extra mile and sell the company vision.
  • Coaching management supports bar and restaurant staff to constantly grow, improve the quality of service and take on extra responsibilities.

Best managerial style in hospitality

Hospitality is a people-centric profession. If you hope to be an effective manager and succeed in hospitality management it’s important to adopt a management style that focuses on your people and what they need to perform to the best of their abilities.

There’s no one best managerial style in the hospitality industry; all can work well depending on the circumstances and what you’re aiming to achieve.

Think about what’s most important for your team to function at its best – is it innovation, a shared vision, or continually upskilling your team? Opt for a managerial style, or combinations of styles, that suits.

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What is the difference between leadership and management?

Leadership and management are often used interchangeably, but while there is some overlap, there are also important differences between the two:

  • Leadership focuses on inspiring the workforce, and setting out the company’s vision and direction; whereas management focuses on how to deliver and drive forward that vision.
  • Leaders tend to look for new ideas and are future-focused; while managers think about how to implement those ideas in the here and now.
  • Leadership is also tasked with shaping and outlining workplace culture; while managers endorse and encourage that culture in their people.

Although there are differences between leadership and management, these roles often overlap. Whether you’re in a leadership role or not, to be a great manager you will also need to demonstrate leadership qualities.

Things like strong communication skills, passion and enthusiasm, excellent problem-solving, decision-making and top-notch crisis management skills are all essential.


If you want to be a world-class manager, it’s important to reflect on your own management style and experience and invest in building your knowledge and skills in this area.

If you’re aiming to work for top industry hospitality brands, you’ll need to demonstrate you have the practical experience and know-how to be a great hospitality manager.

With a hospitality degree from a top-ranking hospitality management school, you’ll get the unique opportunity to learn from doing. You’ll be taught practical management and leadership skills in real-world environments. You’ll learn how to effectively manage people, problem-solve, pay attention to details and successfully work under pressure.

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