6 Styles of Organizational Management (and Why They Matter)

Every element of an organization should be carefully designed and structured — even leadership. Many businesses employ 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 individuals 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 style of organizational management. Studying organizational management reveals that there are several styles for businesses to choose from, to include:

Autocratic Management

An autocratic organizational management style involves imbuing a single leader with 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.

Though autocratic management is falling out of favor, it still has some valuable applications. Within 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. Additionally, autocratic management is often employed 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 those systems and processes in a business setting. Companies that maintain this management style tend to have a clear hierarchy of expectations for different levels of employees, and managers are tasked with enforcing rules to ensure those expectations are met.

Bureaucratic management is another style that is generally fading from popularity. Still, organizations that tend to process large amounts of information or must maintain massive 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 utilizing 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 style of leadership tends to improve staff morale and reduce turnover. Plus, the support and innovation provided by the workforce can provide organizations with a competitive edge. Still, democratic management is not easy to maintain, as leaders need to understand how to leverage every worker’s strengths and ideas effectively.

Laissez-faire Management

From French, laissez faire translates directly to “allow to do,” and in English, the term has come to apply to an attitude or policy of non-interference. It follows, then, that laissez-faire organizational management refers to a style of leadership in which leaders do not involve themselves much with decision-making or operations. Often, executives and managers at these organizations maintain only their titles, and they expect workers to manage themselves given the proper guidelines and resources.

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

Management styles

Management by Wandering Around

Though lacking the formal name of other organizational management styles, management by wandering around is no less viable a 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 might make management by wandering around seem like an aimless and ineffective organizational management style, but in truth, it is especially applicable for team leads and project managers who benefit from acting like members of the team.

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

Paternalistic Management

The paternalistic organizational management style tends to envision the company as a family. One or several leaders might function as the head of the family, but they develop policies and maintain a culture that mimics a traditional family environment. Typically, leaders invest heavily in the personal and professional development of their staff, prioritizing employee needs over profits.

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

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