Basic Concepts: Team management style

If you take a moment to think back about your work history and past experiences, we’re pretty sure you’re going to remember great, good and not so good managers (euphemism implied). What makes you “tag” a manager as great/good/whatever? Was it the way he/she was as a person or was it the way it behave towards the team, his/hers management style?

If you think a little harder, you’ll probably be able to establish an behavioural pattern of all the managers you thought were better, and you’ll most likely also notice that, the best ones had not one, but many styles according to the situation, all thinking about the best outcomes for the company and the employees he/she managed.

The way you’ll choose to behave as a leader, when the time comes, is not about extremes, there are no absolute truths or right/wrong. A true leader has his/hers own style depending on the task at hand, situation to be managed and people involved.

Management style focused on results:

According to Daniel Goleman’s article on Harvard Business Review, “Leadership that gets results”, there are six main management styles, all with their specific main points and behaviours. Always remember, a good leader is flexible and adopts the management style that is most adequate for the situation and people involved.

Coercive – “Do what I tell you”

The coercive style is the one that demands immediate compliance, it’s the “my way or the highway manager. This management style is strongly remarked by a strong drive to achieve, individual initiative and an incredible self controldon’t know about you, but the self control part pretty much makes me cross this one off my list.

This type of manager closely controls the employees and “motivates” by threats and disciplinary actions – what can hardly be considered real motivation.

  • Pros – It’s specially effective when dealing with crisis situations, when deviations from strict behaviour present risks or with troublemaker employees.
  • Cons – Its general impact on organisational climate is negative; It’s not particularly effective when employees are either underdeveloped or highly skilled – those who need to learn don’t get to learn anything, while those who know a lot can’t apply what they know.

Authoritative – “Come with me”



The authoritative style is the one that mobilizes people towards a vision; he/she stimulates long-term thinking as feels like it’s up to him to lead the way towards greener pastures. This management style is strongly remarked by self confidence, empathy towards employees and an infinite drive to change.

Contrary to the coercive manager, this style is firm but fair, it leads the way other than just bossing people around and watching work being done. The authoritative manager motivates by persuasion and empathic feedback on performance.

  • Pros – This management style’s impact is mostly very positive for the organisational climate; It’s most useful in situations of change that demand a new vision or when a clear direction is needed.
  • Cons – It’s not particularly useful for underdeveloped employees that need guidance other than just being able to follow the leader. Also, when the manager is not credible – people won’t follow someone they don’t believe in.

Affiliative – “People come first”



The affiliative style works towards creating harmony in the work environment and building emotional bonds. It’s focused primarily on the people doing the tasks other than the tasks.

This management style is focused on avoiding conflicts and building relationships based on honest communication. He/she motivates the employees by trying to keep them happy.

  • Pros: Its impact on organisational climate is positive; It’s most effective when used to complement other management styles, specially when the task routines and performance are adequate. This manager shines when counselling and helping employees or managing existing conflicts.
  • Cons: When the employees’ performance is not adequate – affiliation is focused on people other than performance. Also, in crisis situations when clear direction is needed, it doesn’t seem to go that well.

Democratic – “What do you think?”



The democratic style is known for stimulating employee participation in order to build commitment and consensus among all employees. This manager encourages all employees to input in decision making and actually values everyone’s input.

This management style is strongly remarked by collaboration, team leadership and effective communication. He/she motivates by rewarding team effort.

  • Pros: Its impact on organisational climate is positive. It’s most effective in situations where consensus needs to be achieved and employee input is valued. It works best in steady working environments in which the staff has experience and credibility.
  • Cons: The democratic style is not particularly effective in situations that ask for employee coordination, such as crisis situations – there’s no time to listen to everyone when you need to act ASAP. Also, it tends to fail when close supervision is needed – mostly with employees that lack specific competencies.

Pacesetting – “Do as I do, now”



The pacesetting style is the one that sets high standards for performance – its primary goal is accomplishing tasks with excellence. It’s highly remarked by conscientiousness, drive to achieve and initiative.

Instead of telling people to do things, he/she demonstrates it by doing it him/herself. It’s focused on performing many tasks personally and expecting employees to do the same. He/she motivates by setting high standards and expecting employees to achieve them by self-directing.

  • Pros: It’s most effective in highly motivated and competent teams that need little to none direction/coordination. It’s good for managing experts.
  • Cons: Its overall impact on the organisational climate tends to be negative. It doesn’t work well with tasks that require assistance/cooperation and in environments where development, coaching and coordination are required.

Coaching – “Try this”



The coaching style, as is the affiliative, is focused on people: its primary goal is long-term employee professional development. It’s strongly remarked by the need to develop others, empathy and self-awareness.

He/she helps and encourages employees towards developing their strengths and overcoming their weaknesses in order to improve performance. He/she motivates by providing equal professional development opportunities for everyone.

  • Pros: Its overall impact in organisational climate is positive. It tends to be most effective in environments where skill development is needed, as well as those in which employees are motivated towards development.
  • Cons: If the leader lacks expertise and can’t help development, this style will probably fail. Also, in work environments where there’s a large performance discrepancy – coaching managers may persist on developing other than letting go of a poor performer.

Free Task Management Template!

The key to effective leadership and team management is to take in the pros of each of the management styes and develop your unique repertoire to use in appropriate environments, situations and groups of employees.

Manage your team’s tasks and processes:

Pipefy’s Task Management Template was specially developed to help you manage yours and your team’s tasks without breaking a sweat.

This template shows you in an organised and simplified manner what everyone is currently doing, what they have to do, and what is already done. It also highlights what are the priorities, what’s on time, what’s late and what’s potentially creating bottlenecks.

Written by Isabelle Salemme, Product content manager at Pipefy. She uses her extensive Pipefy knowledge to write informative pieces teaching users to make the best of Pipefy. Besides being responsible for all product-related content, she's an avid reader, a coffee lover and a professional photographer.