What Is A Management Philosophy? (With Examples)

Chris Kolmar
By Chris Kolmar
- Feb. 9, 2021
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As you build your career in the workforce, you may find yourself climbing the ranks of your company or moving up when you change jobs to a new company. When you reach a management position, your responsibilities change significantly.

The biggest change for many employees is the responsibility of managing other individuals and being responsible for their growth.

If you are like many managers at the beginning of your management journey, you may be uncertain as to what can help you be successful and ensure your direct reports are successful.

Sometimes, individuals are promoted to a management position without ever receiving managerial training. Unfortunately, without training, managers will often struggle to find success in their new roles, and their direct reports will suffer because of it.

So, what can you do to ensure you’re doing the best possible job as a manager? Great leaders are often reliant on tools to help improve their impact as managers and leaders.

One of the best ways to ensure you are a strong, efficient, and loyal manager is to develop a management philosophy and follow it to the best of your ability.

Writing a management philosophy is a great way to remind yourself day in and day out of your work ethic and as a mission statement to remind yourself about your goals and priorities.

What Is a Leadership Philosophy?

A leadership philosophy or a management philosophy is a structured approach that assists managers in leading others. A leadership philosophy acts as a statement that can help managers, both new and old, lead their teams.

The typical management philosophy can vary depending on the person and the management style they bring to their team. It will also vary by department, by specific team goals, and company initiatives.

However, most leadership philosophies encompass components like theory, attitude, guiding principles or beliefs, and behavior. All of these components are extremely important when thinking about management style. Depending on your needs and goals, your statements might be a single sentence or a full page in length.

Remember, management philosophies are personal documents that act as a reference document for you, as a manager. This means that you can make them whatever you want them to be. Any length, structure, or components are acceptable, depending on what works best for the individual manager.

There are a variety of benefits of having a management philosophy, but some of the most important are as follows:

  • Confidence. With your leadership philosophy in your back pocket, you can find more confidence in your decisions and management style as time goes on. Being able to have a document you can reference will help with consistent management style and decision-making.

  • Hiring. Knowing what you want and what makes your team successful will allow you to make better hiring decisions. It will help you identify the type of individual you want on your team and ensure you don’t stray from your beliefs, despite your initial reaction.

  • Clarity. Having a management philosophy document will allow you to be consistent in your expectations. This has a trickle-down effect ensuring your direct reports are clear on your expectations across positions, projects, and deadlines.

  • High performance. With more clarity, better team member fits, and confidence, your team and you as a manager will undoubtedly perform better.

    A management philosophy will take away the guesswork from your team, allowing them to better use their skills, leading to a more productive, engaged, and innovative team.

  • Retention. Retaining your staff is an important thing for any manager. By having a management philosophy and being consistent in your management style, you’ll likely retain more of your staff than if you didn’t have a leadership philosophy.

Creating a management philosophy is fairly easy, especially if you’ve been managing for a period of time.

It’s simply taking your existing style, or what you imagine your management style to be, and writing it down on paper, such as: What are your goals as a manager? How do you want to manage your team on a daily basis? What’s important to you?

It also helps to have this in your pocket when you’re interviewing for a management position. Hiring managers will appreciate the specifics when asking about your management process. It will help give your credibility to the potential employer and allow you to answer your questions with more confidence.

List of Leadership Philosophy Examples

So, what does a management philosophy or leadership philosophy look like in action? There are a few different types of leadership philosophies depending on the position the specific individual holds. Based on the different types of philosophies, these examples will have different frameworks and end goals.

  • Democratic leadership philosophy. Similar to democracy, democratic leadership is when the entire team is empowered to help make decisions. This means the manager is adamant about collecting team feedback and implementing it into the final solution or project.

  • Autocratic management philosophy. This type of management or leadership style is where the decision-making and execution sit solely on the manager’s shoulders. Rather than providing strategic feedback, the team is there to execute.

  • Laissez-faire leadership philosophy. Laissez-faire leadership provides equal power of final decision-making and implementation to the leader and the team.

    Typically, the manager is hands-off and allows the team to run the projects and manage deadlines. The leader in this situation will focus their efforts on higher-level strategy matters.

  • Strategic management philosophy. Strategic management typically splits the focus of the manager between the higher-level strategy and team management. This means they’re adamant in ensuring everyone on the team has clear roles and responsibilities to produce maximum efficiency.

  • Transformational leadership philosophy. Transformational leadership’s main focus is on constant evolution. This means continuously updating benchmarks, goals, and strategies.

    Typically, managers who use transformational leadership spend a great deal of time learning new practices or processes to ensure their teams perform at their best.

  • Transactional management philosophy. These types of managers rely on compensation and incentives to help their teams meet certain goals. They may establish the reward with their leadership team to confirm that they would be rewarded with something specific if their team should meet a specific goal.

Choosing the type of management philosophy you gravitate towards will solely depend on you as an individual and manager, as well as your team’s experience and needs.

For example, suppose you have hired younger professionals who may be entering the workforce for the first time. In that case, an autocratic management philosophy might be a better strategy to ensure your team is successful on various fronts.

However, if you have hired a team of individuals for their unique expertise on their roles or the industry, a democratic or laissez-faire leadership philosophy might be better so that you ensure you’re getting the best perspectives from all sides.

The same goes for team types. For example, transactional management may work well for a sales team but not so great for an administrative team, as their job doesn’t revolve around specific goals.

Tips for Writing a Leadership Philosophy

As we mentioned previously, there are a variety of ways to approach a management philosophy. Here are a few tips to get started:

  • Brief introduction. Your philosophy should have a brief, one-line introduction that encompasses what you consider to be best management practices. This could come in various forms, such as ensuring managers get feedback and input from their teams or what specific responsibilities you believe managers have.

    You can also consider the fundamental things you believe makes a manager successful in any organization.

  • Expand in the body. Now, you’ll work on the real meat of your philosophy. The body should explain how you think about the relationship between employee and manager. Is the main focus relationships, communication, strategy, execution, or specific goals?

    In addition, you’ll want to write out what you believe your role is as a manager. This should be what you strive to build towards and what you believe is necessary to ensure you are a successful and efficient manager.

  • Management strategies. Once you have your ideal management qualities down, you’ll want to think about strategies like the ones listed above. You want to list where you learned the strategy and how you can be most effective using the specific strategy.

    You can consider even adding examples of other managers you’ve worked for or strategies that have worked for you in the past.

  • Goals. Consider the specific goals you have as a manager. What do you want to accomplish during your time managing a team?

    Establish those goals even before you begin writing to ensure you’re crafting your leadership philosophy around them. The actions you take after establishing these goals will impact your success.

  • Conclusion. Your conclusion should be a concise summary of your statement that includes the ideal relationship between managers and employees and how you view your role and management strategies.

    You can also include how you envision implementing your management philosophy moving forward.

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Chris Kolmar


Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar is a co-founder of Zippia and the editor-in-chief of the Zippia career advice blog. He has hired over 50 people in his career, been hired five times, and wants to help you land your next job. His research has been featured on the New York Times, Thrillist, VOX, The Atlantic, and a host of local news. More recently, he's been quoted on USA Today, BusinessInsider, and CNBC.

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