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Management styles in the UK – growing your small business

5-minute read

Manager presenting to team during meeting
Rosanna Parrish

Rosanna Parrish

7 September 2023

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As your business grows, so will your team. Whether it's to keep up with customer demands or in response to an increase in profits, you may find yourself at the head of a team.

Whether or not you have previous management experience, knowing your management style can be a good way to examine how you communicate (and lead) your team.

Keep reading to find out what your management style is and how it can help you to build a positive work environment.

What are management styles?

Your management style is a way to support your staff – whilst ultimately helping your business to achieve its goals. Every manager will have different management styles – some even have multiple.

As a manager, you’ll be responsible for leading your team. This includes motivating, delegating, and organising your workers. Not only this, but you’ll also be actively helping your staff to develop in their roles – as well as dealing with any HR or workplace issues your direct reports need support with.

Learn more about how to build a high-performing team in our guide.

Everything you do will be to create a good working environment for your team whilst supporting overarching business goals. While every approach to this will be different, you’ll notice some common characteristics shared amongst good managers.

Types of leadership and management styles

All managers have the same goal: to support their staff to successfully achieve business targets. This is where leadership styles in management can be used to help. How you achieve this will depend on where you work and the team you’re managing.

You can base your management style on a combination of your own personality and your workplace environment (taking into account business goals and the industry you work in). Some factors that may affect your management style could be working in a creative or more traditional field or whether you’re more extroverted or introverted.

But because all managers share the same goal of business success, there are some predefined management styles recognised in business.

A good manager will be able to adjust their management style when needed – whether that’s to support one specific member of staff or to align with changing business needs.

There’s no rule to say you have to strictly follow one management style but recognising your own can be a good way to develop as a manager and help your team to grow. And if you’re just starting out in a management role, perhaps the below examples can give you some ideas on how to better manage your team.

6 management style examples for small business owners

Democratic leadership style

The main basis of the democratic management style is making sure your direct reports are part of the decision making process. It’s sometimes also known as participative management.

If you’re a democratic manager, you’ll keep communication open with your team and provide opportunities to feed into business decisions. You may run regular one-to-one meetings with your team or even frequent larger group meetings. One popular tool used in democratic leadership is to use employee engagement surveys to gather feedback.

Transformational leadership style

Transformational leadership was first theorised in the 1970s, making it one of the newer approaches to management and leadership.

Transformational managers work with each employee’s individual strengths, figuring out how best they can work together as a wider team and reach wider business goals. By using transformational leadership, everyone is involved in the decision making process.

If you follow the transformational leadership style, you’ll take a very empathetic and personable approach to management.

Your main priority as a manager will be to continuously encourage your team. You’ll always be on the lookout for areas for your reports to develop – whether they display a natural aptitude or you see a gap in knowledge. You’ll likely recommend training courses or use a development plan to help your team grow.

Find out more about employee appraisals in our guide.

Autocratic leadership style

One of the earliest documented leadership styles is autocratic leadership – also known as authoritative leadership. Despite this, autocratic leadership isn’t as popular today as it used to be. This is because autocratic leaders don’t take input or feedback from their team and make decisions alone – which can often be damaging to team morale.

However, sometimes autocratic management is necessary. This could be because of a knowledge deficit in the team or perhaps you work in a trade that requires you to make quick decisions. So while not an effective leadership style to use consistently, there may be occasions when you as the manager need to step up and make quick and difficult decisions.

Coaching leadership style

Managers who adopt a coaching leadership style see the value in mentorship and professional development. Perhaps you’re a seasoned professional in your trade or industry and are looking to share your expertise – or maybe you run a family business and you’re training the next generation to take over.

The coaching leadership style is more concerned with achieving long-term goals over time than with quick wins. It creates a supportive environment for workers and achieves this through open communication and opportunities to give feedback.

Many high-level managers in well-known businesses, such as Facebook and Microsoft, are said to adopt this management style.

Laissez-faire leadership style

Laissez-faire isn’t just a management style, it’s a whole approach to life. Often used when talking about politics or economics, the laissez-faire leadership style is all about letting things take their course without interference.

Laissez-faire leaders trust their employees to do their work without micromanaging. They value creativity and give plenty of opportunities for their team to gain practical experience. However, managers using the laissez-faire leadership style are always available to their employees if they have questions.

This hands-off approach to management won’t work for every business. You’ll need to evaluate your team and take into account your business goals to see if this leadership style will work for you.

Transactional leadership style

Transactional leadership focuses on the idea that incentives, rewards, and punishments are the best way for teams to meet their goals. Managers who use this style of leadership rely on careful monitoring of their teams but, unlike some of the other leadership styles we’ve covered, don’t actively seek employee input or feedback.

Transactional leadership is often viewed as the opposite management style to transformative leadership. It’s not often used in businesses today but can still be seen in sports teams.

Whilst transactional leadership may not be as popular today, employee incentives are a great idea for building a happier workplace. Read our guide to rewarding employees here.

Leadership and management styles: what’s the difference?

The difference between leadership and management can be subjective and will differ depending on who you ask. Some people believe that managers only focus on outputs, whereas leaders take a more personal approach. Leadership also has connotations of innovation and empowerment.

However, others argue that managers are leaders. They’re heading up a team and making sure business goals are met in a happy and healthy way. Your job title might say manager but you can be a leader too.

What management style do you use to lead your team? Let us know in the comments below.

More employee guides for small business owners

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Photo: fizkes/
Rosanna Parrish

Written by

Rosanna Parrish

​​Rosanna Parrish is a Copywriter at Simply Business, specialising in legal and HR content. Trained at London College of Communication, she has been creating content professionally for eight years at publications across the UK and Spain. Starting her career in health insurance, she also worked in education marketing before returning to the insurance world. Rosanna also writes about wellbeing in the workplace. She lives by the sea and does her best writing in coffee shops.

We create this content for general information purposes and it should not be taken as advice. Always take professional advice. Read our full disclaimer

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