Each individual in any management position has developed a management style, a behavioral approach to managing others. There are basically 3 styles addressed in this article which are the Autocratic style, the Democratic style, and the Catalytic style. Let's define each and the most outstanding single characteristic of each style.
The Autocratic Style (natural style): Dictator, My Way OR the Highway approach, I'm in Charge here and you are to do as I detailed, don't think, just act and do it NOW, demands respect from everyone even if it has not yet been earned, call me MR or MRS or SIR/Madam.
The Democratic Style (natural style): Close friend, father figure, no one ever makes a mistake, any and all results are acceptable, take your time we'll get it done, accepts any and all suggestions from subordinates even if the suggestion may be wrong, does not discipline or control the staff, staff controls the manager, has a great need to be liked by everyone at every level, call me by my first name.
The Catalytic Style (Learned/developed blended style): Teacher style, trainer, developer of subordinates, coaching style, teach what they know and show as they go style, strives to achieve results above expectations, explains plans, details expectations, maintains control but expects input from all subordinates, is respected by subordinates and by all management because respect has been earned through performance.
At first glance you might believe that the only style that is best of the 3 styles is the Catalytic.
Each style has its appropriate time and place and each can be successful under specific circumstances. Management styles are developed by the individual and are natural tendencies. We are all influenced throughout our business career by those around us who have managed us as we ascend into management position ourselves. Our developed style can begin as early as grade school level and further develop in high school and college. When we enter the work force and begin to report to our first supervisor/manager our future management style begin to evolve even further.
When the time comes and we are promoted into our first management position many want to be like their first manager. This could be a positive evolution or perhaps a negative one. Let's assume, for this exercise, that our first manager was a really wonderful person, very friendly with the entire staff, and displayed a father figure management style. People who report to this manager, including you, may not have performed as well as you could have because your boss was such a nice person almost any type of performance was considered acceptable even less than expected results.
This management style, although comfortable to all of the direct reporters, may not be as effective as it could be and the results achieved may be found to be unacceptable to upper management.
You recognize that this is an example of a Democratic management style and although well-liked by all may not have an extended shelf life as a manager due to the lack of acceptable performance but the unit this manager is managing.
Let's address another example of a different management style, the Autocratic. This manager has very high almost unreasonable expectations which you are to live up to at all times and if you don't it becomes a watch-out environment. This manager usually raises his voice when speaking to any person on their staff, pounds his hand/fist on the table at meetings, criticizes in public and rarely shares any praise to any member on the staff. This style usually doesn't explain plans of action or details of expectations. Dictates duties and responsibilities, usually does not welcome input from the workers, rejects suggestions and uses verbal force at every turn. Remember under certain circumstances and conditions this may be the management style needed.
Example: Upper management has a department filled with very qualified, experienced and talented employees who, under their present democratic manager are performing below acceptable results. Now it is time for a change. Consider someone who has a natural autocratic management style. Why? A drastic change in results are necessary and critical to the overall performance within the organization and a person who is going to go into this department with the sole mission of cracking the whip and get the job done and quickly turn results around. The downside danger is employee fallout. There may be some fallout because of the sudden change in management style but the best of the staff will rise to the demands of the new manager IF their goal is to stay with the organization and to move forward and upward.
We can readily recognize a severe change in the sports world. A football team has had the same coach for several years and in the last year or so the team has not had a winning record, has not qualified for any playoff games and ownership is now faced with a coaching change. You have witnessed a change from a long term democratic coach to a dictator autocratic style head coach and staff. The very next season the team is now a winning organization and goes to the playoffs. Keep in mind an autocratic style manager/coach usually has a short shelf life, perhaps 2-3 seasons and then another change will have to be made and now ownership is looking for the blended management style coach, the Catalytic coach.
The Catalytic manager/coach due to the fact that this is a blended style of both the Autocratic and the Democratic styles will now have a long shelf live with the department/team and will produce winning results on a consistent basis.
Can an autocratic and democratic management style change to become a catalytic manager?
Yes. The catalytic is not a natural style like the other two styles. The catalytic style is learned and developed style over a period of time. What is needed to develop the catalytic style is proper training and direction from a strong catalytic manager who is willing to take the other style individuals under their wing and spend time changing their approach to managing subordinates which is to include training and developing to cause a change in their behavior tendencies and approach to others.