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female manager who practices the democratic management style with her team in a meeting

The Pros and Cons of Different Management Styles: Which Is Right for Your Organization?

You’ve just been promoted to a management position at your company. You’re excited about the opportunity, but you’re also a little nervous. How will you lead your team effectively?

Gallup estimates that managers are responsible for 70% of the differences in employee engagement scores between various business units. This substantial variance contributes to alarmingly low levels of employee engagement worldwide.

You don’t want to be a dud manager, but with so many management styles, how do you know which one is right for you and your organization?

Let’s explore the pros and cons of several popular management styles, including autocratic, democratic, laissez-faire, transformational, and transactional. We’ll also discuss how to determine the best fit for your team, plus illustrate each style in action.

Autocratic Management Style


  • Quick decision-making: Autocratic managers make decisions independently. This can lead to faster decision-making and implementation.
  • Clear expectations: This style provides employees with clear instructions and expectations. It’s a great way to reduce confusion and ensure tasks are completed as planned.


  • Limited employee input: Autocratic managers don’t typically involve their team in decision-making. This can lead to disengagement and missed opportunities for innovative ideas.
  • Higher turnover: This style can create a less satisfying work environment for employees. Less satisfaction = higher turnover rates.

Say you’re a content marketing director and strictly follow an autocratic management style with your content team. You do all the research. You create the production calendar. Your team members are given explicit instructions, and you want them to be followed to the letter. While this approach results in efficient task completion, it stifles creativity. As a manager, you operate in a vacuum and leave little room for the team to contribute their own ideas.

This is often seen with managers who take the mindset of “it’s easier if I just do it.” Pro tip: it’s never easier in the long run.

Democratic Management Style


  • Increased employee engagement: Democratic managers involve their team in decision-making. This can lead to higher levels of employee engagement and job satisfaction.
  • Greater creativity: By seeking input from team members, democratic managers can foster a more creative environment, encouraging innovation and problem-solving.


  • Slower decision-making: Collaborative decision-making can be time-consuming, potentially slowing down project implementation. This is especially difficult for projects with a tight turnaround.
  • Potential for conflict: Differences of opinion among team members may arise during the decision-making process. This requires serious conflict-resolution skills.

You’re a marketing manager and follow a democratic management style. You encourage your team to share their opinions and ideas during brainstorming sessions. As a result, you’ve had some really successful campaigns.

The problem is the team sometimes struggles with reaching a consensus, even during a tight timeline. Without buy-in from everyone, some team members become resentful and don’t put in the effort the campaign requires.

Finding a balance is key to making this management style work. How can you effectively facilitate or delegate while maintaining buy-in?

Laissez-faire Management Style


  • Employee autonomy: Laissez-faire managers allow their team members to work independently, giving them the freedom to make their own decisions and manage their own projects.
  • Fosters personal growth: This style encourages employees to take responsibility for their own professional development, allowing them to learn and grow at their own pace.


  • Lack of guidance: Employees may struggle without clear direction or support, leading to confusion and potential project delays.
  • Inconsistent results: With minimal oversight, there may be a lack of consistency in the quality and output of work.

You’re a laissez-faire manager and trust your team to manage their own projects and make decisions independently. This approach has led to some impressive individual achievements, yet, the team performance is inconsistent.

Some people are straggling behind, and there’s tension between the group because of delays. How do you remedy this while maintaining the team’s independence?

This is great if you have a team of highly motivated marketers who are comfortable managing themselves. This typically works best with more senior teams since junior team members may need more guidance.

Transformational Management Style


  • Inspires and motivates: Transformational managers lead by example and inspire their team to work towards a shared vision, fostering a positive work environment.
  • Encourages personal growth: This style focuses on the individual development of each team member, helping them reach their full potential.


  • Time-intensive: Building strong relationships with team members and focusing on their individual growth can be time-consuming for transformational managers.
  • May overlook details: By focusing on the big picture and long-term goals, transformational managers may sometimes miss important details or neglect short-term tasks.

You’re a transformational manager and love mentoring your team. You take the time to understand your team member’s strengths and aspirations and help them grow.

While this approach has led to a highly motivated team, you occasionally struggle with balancing long-term visions and day-to-day tasks. Your team expects an extraordinary amount of your attention which limits the time you have available to focus on your daily duties.

This management style typically works with smaller teams or on teams where you only have a few direct reports. Ensuring you can balance 1:1 time with team members while still getting your daily work done is critical in making this style work. 

Transactional Management Style


  • Clear expectations and rewards: Transactional managers set clear expectations for their team and provide rewards or consequences based on performance.
  • Efficient task completion: This style focuses on achieving specific goals and tasks efficiently.


  • Limited innovation: Transactional managers may not encourage creativity or risk-taking. This can hinder innovation and growth.
  • Employee disengagement: By focusing primarily on performance and results, transactional managers may inadvertently discourage employee engagement and job satisfaction.

You set clear goals for your team and reward them with bonuses and promotions based on their performance. The team is efficient at completing their tasks but doesn’t contribute much to brainstorming. You’ve inadvertently limited creativity and innovation within the team by keeping them so task oriented.

In his book “Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us,” author Daniel Pink highlights that people are motivated by three key factors:

  • Autonomy: Giving employees control and decision-making power can boost job satisfaction and engagement.
  • Mastery: Providing professional development opportunities helps employees feel challenged and motivated to grow.
  • Purpose: Understanding their work’s purpose and impact leads to a more fulfilled and satisfied workforce.

How could this play into your transactional management style? Is your team being rewarded in ways that keep them engaged in the long term?

Determining the Right Fit for Your Organization

Now that you understand the pros and cons of each management style, how do you choose the one that’s best suited for your marketing team? Here are a few factors to consider:

  • Company culture: Assess your organization’s culture and values. Some management styles may align better with your company’s culture than others.
  • Team dynamics: Consider the personalities, skills, and preferences of your team members. A management style that complements their strengths and encourages their growth is likely to be more effective.
  • Goals and objectives: Think about the specific goals you’re trying to achieve. Different management styles may be more effective for certain types of projects or objectives.
  • Your personal strengths and preferences: Reflect on your own management skills and preferences. The best management style for you is one that aligns with your strengths and allows you to effectively lead your team.

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to management. The right management style for your marketing team depends on your organization’s culture, your team’s dynamics, and your own strengths and preferences. By understanding the pros and cons of each style, you can choose the one that best supports your team’s growth and success. Don’t be afraid to test out different methods or create a style that works best for you!


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