Framing your leadership

Which management style is right? It depends on the situation.

management style


As a manager, it’s your job to keep things organised. But you also have to strike a balance – preventing the process from devolving into chaos while giving people the flexibility to do their jobs well and to come up with novel solutions.

There are several classic styles you can employ which are taught by management schools worldwide; by understanding them, you can learn how to use each framework better, as different ones are appropriate at different times. Here are a few of the options, plus suggestions for when they could be helpful:

Autocratic Management Style

1. The autocratic management style means making decisions unilaterally. It’s very useful in a crisis situation – for example, if the media discovers a scandal and you need to react in a quick and decisive fashion – but can annoy the team if used too frequently.

Consultative Style

2. With a consultative style, you make most of the decisions yourself, but always check with colleagues to discover their ideas and concerns. It gives people an outlet for their creativity (and frustrations), but it will slow you down if used in a crisis. You will also have to use their ideas on substantive issues every so often (for example, on the direction of a campaign or the specifics of your creative) even if you think your own are better, or else risk the team seeing your consultations as a sham.

Persuasive Style

3. When using a persuasive style, you make the decisions. However, you need to take more care to explain them than an autocrat would. Sometimes you have to do something unpopular (for example, senior management might want you to scale down your ambitious plan for redeveloping the website on grounds of cost), but an autocratic style would simply alienate your team. Taking the time to explain and bring them around can pay dividends in the long term.

Democratic Management Style

4. Democratic management means giving up a share of your power to your team. You reach a consensus and go with it. This could be a bad idea if you’re working with a team of novices, but can work very well if everyone has a lot of experience and expertise. If they can make an informed judgement about the various aspects of the campaign, they will become more invested in its success.

Laissez-faire Style

5. Laissez-faire means stepping back and taking on an advisory role – letting your team run itself while you provide guidance. It can work very well during a creative period, but can also be slow as everyone will want to share their opinion. If you don’t step in at the right moment, louder voices can sometimes drown out better ideas.

All of these approaches have their place – deciding which to use is a matter of understanding each task and knowing your team.

You might also like our blogs on Taking the steps towards leadership and What makes a good leader

If you’re an experienced marketer but would like to take your career to the next level, the CIM Marketing Leadership Programme could be the right choice for you. For information; visit

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