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There are four generally accepted management styles. These include telling and directing, delegating, participating and supporting, and coaching and selling. Each style has its proper time and place. The goal is to analyze each separate situation, and determine which business management style fits best.
Choosing the proper management style requires weighing tasks and relationships. There are leaders who focus equally on both tasks and relationships, while others focus on neither. To decide between tasks and relationships, leaders must first analyze the needs of their subordinates.
For instance, new recruits at an Army bootcamp facility need a directive leader who is charismatic and unafraid of doling out orders. This type of management style is known as telling and directing. The leader makes all the rules, delegates all the tasks, and closely supervises everybody’s performance. This style is one featuring high task and low relationship.
The opposite of telling and directing is delegating, which is low task and low relationship. There is very little leader involvement in this management style. Instead, the leader hands a team or individual an entire project and then allows them to figure out how to complete it. An example of this style is a manager who allows his or her employees to work from home as telecommuters.
Participating/supporting and coaching/selling are the most widely praised management styles. Both of these management styles feature a high focus on relationships. They differ in that participating and focusing is low task, while coaching and selling is high task.
In a participating and supporting management style, both the leader and the subordinate participate in the decision-making process. An example of this style is that of a laboratory director leading his lead research biologist. He actively seeks out the biologist’s input but otherwise allows his subordinate to define the tasks that must be completed. This management style is not task specific.
The coaching and selling style is very task specific, and the leader continues to define goals and delegate tasks. Unlike the directive and delegating styles, however, the coaching style allows for greater two-way communication. The leader accepts advice and in turn offers encouragement.
Of the four management styles, the coaching and selling style is ranked best for general employment situations. Ideally, a manager should focus heavily on both tasks and relationships. Keep mind though that the other three management styles still have their use, and the warranted style depends on the specific situation.
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