6 Styles of Organizational Management (and Why They Matter)

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Every element of an organization must be carefully designed and structured, even leadership. Many companies use strategies to ensure that leadership is systematized and aligned toward a common goal. Some of the most popular strategies fall under the umbrella of organizational management, which is a field associated with planning and managing people and resources to achieve success.

Organizational management styles

In the past, many organizations allowed individual leaders to find their own organizational management styles, but recently, more companies are stepping in to guide managers and executives toward a more consistent and cohesive organizational management style. The study of organizational management reveals that there are several styles to choose from in companies, including:

Autocratic management

An autocratic organizational management style involves giving a single leader unlimited authority. This executive takes responsibility for all important decisions, usually without input from lower managers or employees. Often in autocratic organizations, the leader establishes clear processes and policies, and they expect all employees to follow them without question.

Although autocratic management is falling out of favor, it still has some valuable applications. In organizations where control is more important than creativity, where the workforce must use precision and discipline to achieve a specific result, autocratic organizational management can shine. In addition, autocratic management is often used in organizations with a large workforce with limited training, where constant management is essential.

Bureaucratic management

A bureaucracy is a complex organization with multilayered systems and processes, and a bureaucratic organizational management style involves creating and managing these systems and processes in a business environment. Companies that maintain this management style typically have a clear hierarchy of expectations for different levels of employees, and managers are tasked with enforcing the rules to ensure that those expectations are met.

Bureaucratic management is another style that is generally fading from popularity. However, organizations that tend to process large amounts of information or must maintain large amounts of documentation can benefit from a bureaucracy.

Democratic Management

The democratic organizational management style is similar to the bureaucratic management style with one important difference: Leaders using this style welcome feedback from all employees. Democratic organizations tend to encourage all varieties of collaboration and teamwork, and open communication between employees and managers is common.

More and more organizations are looking to adopt a democratic management style because this leadership style tends to improve staff morale and reduce turnover. In addition, the support and innovation provided by the workforce can provide organizations with a competitive advantage. Even so, democratic management is not easy to maintain, as leaders must understand how to leverage each worker’s strengths and ideas effectively.

Management laissez-faire

From the French, laissez faire translates directly to “to allow to do”, and in English, the term has been applied to an attitude or policy of non-interference. It therefore follows that laissez-faire organizational management refers to a leadership style in which leaders are not heavily involved in decision-making or operations. Oftentimes, executives and managers in these organizations just keep their titles and expect workers to manage themselves with the right guidelines and resources.

Although rare, laissez-faire organizations do exist. This style of organizational management works particularly well for companies that employ highly experienced and knowledgeable staff that do not require constant management. In fact, leadership’s attitude of trust can compel employees to perform to even higher standards, achieving greater success for the organization.

Management styles

Management to wander

Although it does not have the formal name of other organizational management styles, management by walking is not a less viable leadership strategy. As the name suggests, this style involves leaders walking through their workers’ spaces, maintaining a high level of interaction throughout the workday. The name may make walking management seem like an aimless and ineffective style of organizational management, but in reality it is particularly applicable to team leaders and project managers who benefit from acting as members of the team

By maintaining constant contact through the walk, managers can receive feedback, offer suggestions, provide encouragement, and reinforce company goals and values.

Paternalistic management

The paternalistic organizational management style tends to imagine the company as a family. One or more leaders may function as the head of the family, but they develop policies and maintain a culture that mimics a traditional family environment. Leaders typically invest heavily in the personal and professional development of their staff, prioritizing employee needs over profit.

In some paternalistic organizations, employees feel a greater degree of loyalty and motivation to perform well as a result of the strong relationships they develop with their superiors and peers.

Gone are the days when a company could rely on its leaders to organically develop an optimal management strategy. With the knowledge and skills acquired through organizational management courses, business leaders can determine the best leadership style for their corporate culture.

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