What’s Your Style?

Furthermore, a common interview question that stumps the best candidate is, “How would you describe your management style?” So, are you an autocratic leader–kindred to Machiavelli–or a charismatic leader, leading your team by your personality and charm? Whether you know it or not, how you lead can be described and slotted into specific leadership styles. In the styles listed below, you may even see aspects of how you lead in all or part of them.

In today’s workplace, numerous levels of leadership exist within an organization. Some of these have specific principles and styles associated with them. Entire organizations can even be built around one type of leadership style, such as the armed forces. Autocratic from inception and long proven effective, even the armed forces are looking to integrate other leadership disciplines into their operations.

Zachary First, Managing Director of the Drucker Institute, when asked about Machiavelli’s philosophies in today’s workplace, cites Peter Drucker’s book, The Age of Discontinuity:

“In the spring of 1968, a witty book made headlines for a few weeks. Titled Management & Machiavelli, it asserted that every business is a political organization and that, therefore, Machiavelli’s rules for princes and rulers are fully applicable to the conduct of corporate executives. Of course, this is not a particularly new insight. … But during the last twenty years, non-businesses–government, the armed services, the university, the hospital–have begun to apply to themselves the concepts and methods of business management. And this is indeed new.”

As seen in the business models of today, the old way of doing things is becoming quickly extinct. Employees and business owners expect more from managers, and the autocratic style of managing–having blossomed during the Industrial Age–is far behind us.


An autocratic leader exerts high levels of power over his or her employees or team members; this is often referred to as a dictatorship. A typical autocratic leader does not involve members of his or her team in the decision-making process. If someone does ask for an opinion or recommendation, it is most likely dismissed as soon as it is heard. Communication is described as one-way. The work environment is stressful.

Turnover and absenteeism are both high. This style is not successful in situations where employees can become resentful or fearful. The ideal situation for this type of leadership is routine and unskilled jobs/tasks where the advantages of control outweigh the disadvantages. In situations and conditions which call for urgent action or emergencies, this may be the best style to adopt. Most employees have worked for an autocratic leader, and can adapt to the style when needed. In some situations, subordinates may actually prefer this style.


If you have been told that you lead “by the book,” you might be a bureaucratic leader. This person is charged with ensuring that his or her colleagues, employees and team members follow strict and systematic protocol and procedures. Leaders seem empowered by the title and position they hold. Used incorrectly, the inflexibility and level of control can demoralize the team, and diminish the ability to react to changes in the workplace and environment. Individual employees may succeed in this environment by following the rules.

Those who follow the rules are rewarded with promotions. This type of organizational leadership is typically found in universities, hospitals, banks and government to ensure quality, increase security, decrease corruption, and make the bottom line more profitable. Leaders who work within these organizations and try to speed up a process may experience frustration and anxiety.


A charismatic leader has a high level of energy and enthusiasm, and uses both to fuel a team’s direction. He or she gains supporters and followers on personality and charm, rather than any form of internal organizational authority or external power.

Charismatic leaders can get caught up in their vision and believe more in themselves than the team. In this case, team members begin to feel that the organization will fail if the leader ever leaves. Such leaders show great confidence in their followers and team members; they make the group clear and distinct, often separating groups based on mission or job assignment.


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  3. Rewarding Employees
  4. Want To Become A Better Manager?
  5. Leaders In The Field
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