4 Different Types of Managers

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Managers play critical roles across different business settings. Whether providing leadership for a department or an entire business, managers may be responsible for creating and implementing strategies, directly overseeing shift workers, or ensuring projects are completed on time and within budgetary parameters.

Most corporate structures have different types of managers, each type fulfilling a distinct purpose. For prospective managers, understanding these different subsets of the profession is an important first step. Knowing more about the various types of managers can help you determine which career trajectory is right for you. It can lso help you choose an educational path, such as a Master of Arts in Management and Leadership, to gain the necessary skills for a management position.

Smiling manager leaning on a table in a conference room with colleagues.

What Are the Different Types of Managers?

The four most common types of managers are top-level managers, middle managers, first-line managers, and team leaders. These roles vary not only in their day-to-day responsibilities, but also in their broader function in the organization and the types of employees they manage.

Top-Level Managers

Top-level managers are those who represent the highest level of executive management. Top-level managers often have the word “chief” in their job titles, such as chief executive officer, chief financial officer, and so on.

These managers help sustain the company’s growth and execute plans over the long term. They make major business decisions — such as launching a new product or restructuring departments — with the goal of seeing the company thrive, not just in the moment but into the future. Additional duties of top-level managers might include facilitating strategic partnerships with other companies or deciding to take a company public.

Middle Managers

Middle managers usually report to the top-level managers, yet they still have a lot of autonomy to make decisions within their area or department of the company. These managers often have job titles that include the word “director.” They may also be department heads.

Middle managers tend to function as points of contact between first-line managers and top-level management, ensuring that the two groups maintain productive two-way communication. Middle managers may help develop or implement plans to help top-level managers address obstacles or achieve certain business goals. Additional core duties can include mentoring lower-level managers and helping them prepare for career advancement.

First-Line Managers

This role represents an entry-level position for management professionals. First-line managers work directly with non-management employees and project team members. Their overarching role is to supervise employee productivity and hold employees accountable for achieving company goals.

Generally, first-line managers handle internal work only. In other words, they are not responsible for larger-scale business decisions, like whether to take the company public, rebrand, or partner with another business. However, the first-line manager’s core responsibilities can include communicating concerns to middle managers, acting as liaisons for addressing employee needs.

Team Leaders

Team leaders are managers who specialize in a particular task, product, or project. Their role is to oversee all the logistics of their assignment, which may include completing a project on time, onboarding new employees, and assigning specific tasks to various team members.

Understanding Different Management Styles

In addition to there being different types of managers, there are also different management styles. No matter which type of managerial work you take on, you may run into scenarios where some of the following management approaches may prove advantageous.

Visionary

Visionary managers can paint a picture of what the future could look like. They use skills such as persuasion and charisma, as well as leading by example, to inspire their team members to pursue this vision. This can be a highly effective leadership style when you’re a true authority in your field, or when you’re facing a challenge that calls for a complete change in perspective, such as launching a brand-new company or division. However, it can be less effective when employees require a high degree of guidance.

Participative

Participative leaders actively court feedback and try to involve their employees in the decision-making process. While this approach can be an effective way to build employee buy-in and engagement, it may also inadvertently cause employees to question the manager’s overall authority. Participative leadership can be most useful in situations in which the manager needs to cultivate employee engagement, or where leaders determine that multiple perspectives will help ensure the best outcome.

Coaching

Managers using the coaching style focus on developing their team members, helping them hone the skills they need to perform at an optimal level. It’s a great approach in company cultures that prize team building and employee development, but it requires a lot of direct monitoring and regular feedback. The coaching approach might be best in situations where managers are interested in not just completing a project, but in helping individual employees hone their skills and progress in their careers as well.

Authoritative

Finally, there are the “take-charge” leaders who provide their employees with constant monitoring and direction. This authoritative stance can be useful in situations that demand quick decision-making, including during times of crisis. However, this style of management tends to have a negative impact on employee morale over time. Authoritative management is often invoked in emergency situations, or when a prompt and clear decision is necessary; however, it is usually not recommended as a long-term approach.

The Skills of Effective Management

To succeed in any type of managerial role, certain skills are essential. Some of the core competencies for the management profession include:

  • Leadership skills. Managers should be able to set a vision for their employees, inspire action, and hold everyone accountable.
  • Problem-solving skills. Managers should be able to brainstorm creative and efficient solutions to obstacles that may be abstract or complex.
  • Communication skills. Giving and receiving feedback, setting a vision, and offering reports to other members of senior management or shareholders are all essential components of management.
  • Organizational skills. Good managers should be able to juggle multiple projects at once and ensure that they do not let any details slip through the cracks.
  • Technology skills. Increasingly, computer literacy is necessary for managers at any level. Managers should also understand the technical skills relevant to their field.

Earning a Master of Arts in Management and Leadership can help individuals fortify these fundamental competencies, and ultimately drive their success in the field of management.

Lead Others and Achieve Your Goals

The success of any business hinges on strong, effective leadership. The different types of managers can all play a part in this leadership. If you are interested in leading others and helping an organization run smoothly, you may want to consider earning an advanced degree in management and leadership.

With 100% online coursework and eight concentrations to choose from, Maryville University’s online Master of Arts in Management and Leadership program can help you excel in the personal and organizational aspects of management. Through core courses such as Business Ethics, Organizational Behavior and Development, and Interpersonal Management, you can hone your leadership skills and prepare for success in any of a variety of industries. Explore the curriculum and start your career in management and leadership today.

Recommended Reading

Importance of Entrepreneurship: Types, Benefits, and Styles

Importance of Diversity in Leadership

Virtual Leadership Styles for Remote Businesses

Sources

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Boundless, Middle-Level Management

G2, “What’s Your Type? Four Types of Managers Every Project Needs”

Harvard Business Review, “The Real Value of Middle Managers”

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Houston Chronicle, “What Business Management Skills Do Companies Look For?”

Houston Chronicle, “What Managerial Roles Does a First-Line Manager Need?”

Houston Chronicle, “Why Is Good Management Essential in the Workplace?”

Investopedia, Upper Management

Market Business News, “What Is a Manager? Definition and Meaning”

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Administrative Services and Facilities Managers

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Top Executives