Supervising Styles


A supervising style is the way in which a leader applies his personality to a leadership role. As an employee, understanding your manager's supervisory style helps prepare you to interact with him in the optimal way. As an aspiring manager, knowing your preferred style helps you assess your strengths and challenges as a leader.

Authoritative Style

  • The authoritative or directive supervisor takes an "I say, you do" mentality into leadership. Relying on position power, the authoritative supervisor tends to make decisions and directly convey them to employees. As an employee, your primary responsibility is to listen to direction, adhere to it with obedience and effectively fulfill your job role. A challenge is that an authoritative supervisor rarely seeks or responds favorably to assertive input from subordinates.

Laissez Faire Style

  • From an employee's perspective, the laissez faire supervisor appears ideal. A leader with this style takes a hands-off approach and relies on employees to take simple directions and perform duties with significant self-management. This style works best when you have a staff of expert, self-disciplined employees who perform well with little direction. As an employee, laissez faire appears like simple leadership neglect when you don't know how to do your job.

Coaching Style

  • A coaching style means the leader invests significant time in training and developing subordinates. This style works effectively with employees new to a position or looking to enhance skills over time. Coaches typically have a primary objective of helping employees and the work team achieve optimal results. In contrast to a laissez faire approach, a supervisor with a coaching style could offend experienced employees. They might feel micromanaged and not trusted.

Companionable or Affiliative Style

  • A companionable style, also known as affiliative, means your primary supervisory objective is group harmony. This style is effective in a team leadership role. Employees also tend to appreciate shared goals and a team-oriented culture. A problem for a companionable supervisor is that extreme focus on group harmony may cause deficiencies in task direction. You could wind up falling behind on tasks or not achieving department goals because you take it too easy on employees.


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