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Management Styles

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Management styles can vary from company to company, and of course within organisations themselves. Different styles are appropriate for different situations or types of business.

Managers like Bill Gates and Warren Buffett have famously developed their own distinctive methods from which others can learn. However, the fact that the two examples are very different shows that there is no single route to success.

Gates's style and management practice at Microsoft was based on control and concerning himself with detail almost to the point of obsession. The onus that Bill Gates placed on the monitoring of staff and figures is demonstrated by the fact that he even used to sign expenses for Steve Ballmer, his right-hand man.

Buffett, on the other hand, always stressed a desire for the managers of Berkshire Hathaway to think like owners. He urged them to ‘look at the business you run as if it were the only asset of your family, one that must be operated for the next 50 years and can never be sold’.

Sometimes unorthodox management behaviour can develop into a very effective management style. A case in point is that of Ricardo Semler and his Brazilian engineering company Semco. His management policies included unusual practices such as shutting down the company for an afternoon twice-yearly for all employees to clean out the places where they work. He also limited all memos and reports to one piece of A4, always topped by an eye-catching tabloid-style headline to sum up the key message.

Perhaps most interestingly of all, he implemented a system where employees would assess their own managers, with a low rating putting the manager’s job at risk.

All this reinforces the view that there is no one right way to manage people. While taking tips from the experts can help you find the management style that works for you, it is ultimately a matter of trial and error, trust and heresy.

Read more about different management styles in the articles below.


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