Learn about different management styles in this Let’s Talk Business episode from English Plus Podcast. Learn about theory X and theory Y, the hygiene factors and more in this episode.

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Let’s Talk Business | Management Styles


Welcome to a new Let’s Talk Business episode from English Plus Podcast. This is your host, Danny, and I will be joined by Ben in this episode to talk about management styles. When it comes to management styles, do you think there is a right or wrong approach? If so, why do we have so many different management styles. So, no spoilers here when I tell you that the different management styles we’re going to talk about work in different situations and different circumstances, but after we finish talking about management styles, you might have a preference to one over the other based on your experience or the specific work environment you are in.

Before we start, let me remind you that you can find a wealth of learning on our website so after you finish listening to this episode, go there and explore the interesting content we have there, and I bet you will find something you will want to learn more about.

And now without further ado, let’s start talking about management styles.

Welcome to the show, Ben and thank you for joining me today.


Glad to be here, Danny.


Alright, so today we will talk about business, and we’ll focus on the topic of management styles.


A very interesting topic indeed! Management styles are ways that managers approach decision making, communication, and overall leadership. Some common management styles include—

Autocratic— This style is characterized by a manager who makes decisions on their own and communicates them to the team. There is little room for input or suggestions from employees.

Laissez-faire— In this style, managers give their employees a great deal of freedom to make decisions and complete tasks on their own. Managers provide minimal direction and supervision.

Transformational— Transformational managers inspire and motivate their employees to achieve their best work. They focus on personal growth and development, and creating a positive work environment.

Servant— In this style, the manager focuses on serving their team and creating a supportive work environment. They prioritize employee well-being and put the needs of their team before their own.

Transactional— This style is characterized by clear expectations and consequences for meeting or not meeting those expectations. Managers using this style focus on results and may use rewards and consequences to motivate their employees.

Different styles are effective in different situations, and effective managers may use elements of several different styles at different times.


That’s interesting, well we’re going to focus on some of the most common management styles as we don’t have time to cover all of them, so to kick off the episode, I will share with Ben some accounts by managers and their management styles, after I share them with you, I would like to talk about their management styles and what you think of them. How does that sound?


Yes, sure! I would be happy to analyze the management styles described and share my thoughts. Let’s get started.


Alright! I will start with Yolanda, who is a senior manager of a car rental firm—


‘I believe that all our employees can find satisfaction in what they do. We give them responsibility -the idea that the decisions they take have a direct impact on our success – and encourage them to use their initiative – they don’t have to ask me about every decision they make. My style of management participative – employees take part in the decision-making process. They are given a sense of empowerment.

‘We hope this feeling of empowerment gives employees the feeling that they are valued – with management knowing the effort they make. We believe that all this leads to a higher sense of motivation – interest, enthusiasm and energy-among employees. When everyone feels motivated, morale is good and there is a general feeling of well-being in the organization. This leads to improved job satisfaction.’


Yolanda’s management style seems to be a mix of Laissez-faire and Transformational styles. By giving employees responsibility and allowing them to make decisions, Yolanda is promoting a Laissez-faire approach. At the same time, by empowering employees and focusing on motivation and job satisfaction, Yolanda is utilizing the principles of the Transformational style. By giving employees a sense of involvement in the decision-making process, Yolanda is likely creating a positive work environment and promoting employee engagement and commitment to the company’s goals. Overall, Yolanda’s management style seems to prioritize employee empowerment and motivation, which can lead to a high level of job satisfaction and improved performance.


What does she mean when she said that her management style is participative?


When Yolanda referred to her management style as “participative,” she meant that she involves her employees in the decision-making process. In a participative management style, the manager seeks input and feedback from employees and considers their opinions before making decisions. This style encourages collaboration, communication, and teamwork and is designed to foster a sense of ownership and accountability among employees. By giving employees a voice in the decision-making process, Yolanda is promoting a sense of empowerment and building a culture of trust and collaboration.


And what does Yolanda mean when she said that her employees are given a sense of empowerment?


When Yolanda said that her employees are given a sense of empowerment, she means that they are given a feeling of control and influence over their work and the decisions that impact their work. Empowerment can be achieved by providing employees with autonomy, decision-making authority, and opportunities for professional growth and development. By giving employees a sense of empowerment, Yolanda is creating a work environment where employees feel valued, respected, and trusted. This can lead to increased motivation, engagement, and job satisfaction. A sense of empowerment can also improve employee performance by increasing their sense of ownership and accountability.


Now let’s talk about a different approach by Xavier, who is a factory manager. I will share with you how he describes his management style, and I would like you to analyze his management style and tell me what you think about it.


Sure, Let’s hear what Xavier has to say about the management style at his company.


Alright then. Let’s hear it from Xavier, who is a factory manager.


‘I don’t believe in all this talk about motivation. My subordinates – the people working under me -are basically lazy. They need constant supervision – we have to check what they are doing all the time. Some people think this is authoritarian, but I think it’s the only way of managing. There have to be clear rules of discipline -you have to be able to tell subordinates what is right and wrong, with a consistent set of disciplinary procedures.

‘Decisions must be imposed from above without consultation – we don’t discuss decisions with workers, we just tell them what to do.’


Based on Xavier’s description, his management style is Autocratic. Autocratic managers make decisions independently and communicate them to their subordinates without seeking input or feedback. This style is characterized by a top-down approach to decision making and management, with clear rules, structure, and procedures. Xavier’s focus on constant supervision and strict discipline aligns with the principles of an autocratic management style. This style can be effective in situations where quick and decisive action is needed, but it may also lead to low employee morale, lack of motivation, and poor engagement. The lack of consultation with employees in decision making can also lead to a lack of buy-in and commitment to the company’s goals.


Well, we have mentioned the word “morale” a couple of times. How is “morale” different from “moral”?


“Morale” and “moral” are two different words with distinct meanings.

“Morale” refers to the overall psychological and emotional state of an individual or a group of individuals, with respect to their confidence, enthusiasm, and motivation. In the workplace, employee morale refers to the level of job satisfaction, motivation, and engagement of employees within an organization.

“Moral” refers to a set of principles and values that guide an individual’s behavior and decision-making, typically based on cultural, religious, or personal beliefs. “Moral” values and principles are used to determine what is right or wrong, good or bad, just or unjust.

In short, “morale” refers to the mental and emotional state of a person or group, while “moral” refers to their personal beliefs and principles.


Alright, let’s focus on another keyword from what Xavier said; what about the word “authoritarian”?


“Authoritarian” is an adjective used to describe a style of leadership or management that is characterized by a strict and centralized control of decisions and power. In an authoritarian style of management, decisions are made by the leader or management without seeking input or feedback from others. This style is often associated with top-down decision making, rigid rules, and strict enforcement of policies.

In the context of Xavier’s description, he referred to his management style as “authoritarian,” indicating that he believes in making decisions independently and enforcing them without consultation. He also mentions the importance of strict discipline, which aligns with the principles of an authoritarian management style.

While authoritarian management can be effective in situations where quick and decisive action is required, it can also lead to low employee morale, a lack of creativity and innovation, and poor employee engagement. In many cases, employees may feel disrespected and unvalued, which can lead to high turnover and a negative work environment.


Very well, now let’s get back to talking about management styles. So, Xavier believes in what the US management thinker Douglas McGregor in The Human Side of Enterprise called Theory X -the idea that people dislike work and will do everything they can to avoid it. While Yolanda believes in Theory Y -the more advanced view that, given the right conditions, everyone has the potential to find satisfaction in work.


Yes, that is correct. Theory X and Theory Y are two opposing views of human nature and motivation, as described by Douglas McGregor in his book “The Human Side of Enterprise.”

Theory X assumes that people dislike work and will do everything they can to avoid it. In this view, employees need to be closely supervised and threatened with punishment to perform their job.

Theory Y assumes that, given the right conditions, everyone has the potential to find satisfaction in work. In this view, employees are motivated by the opportunity to use their creativity and initiative, and are self-directed and self-controlled.

Yolanda’s management style aligns with Theory Y, as she believes in empowering employees to take responsibility, use their initiative, and participate in decision making. By giving employees a sense of empowerment and recognizing their efforts, Yolanda aims to create a positive and motivated work environment.

On the other hand, Xavier’s management style aligns with Theory X, as he believes that employees need to be closely supervised and threatened with punishment to perform their job. He enforces strict discipline and rules, and makes decisions without seeking input or feedback from employees.

In general, Theory Y management is considered to be more progressive and effective in promoting employee motivation, engagement, and job satisfaction, while Theory X management can lead to low morale and poor employee engagement.


But can we say that Theory Y is always better than Theory X?


It’s not a matter of one theory being “better” than the other in all situations, as the most appropriate management style can depend on a variety of factors such as the industry, the size of the organization, the nature of the work, and the characteristics of the employees.

For example, in a highly structured, fast-paced, and risk-averse industry, an authoritarian management style (Theory X) may be necessary to ensure compliance with regulations, maintain consistency and efficiency, and minimize mistakes.

On the other hand, in a creative, fast-changing, and innovation-driven industry, a participative management style (Theory Y) may be more appropriate to tap into employees’ potential, foster creativity and innovation, and adapt quickly to changing conditions.

In conclusion, the effectiveness of a management style can depend on various contextual factors, and it’s possible for different management styles to be appropriate in different situations. Therefore, managers should be flexible in their approach, and be able to adjust their management style based on the needs of their employees and the organization.


Can you give me an example of when Theory X is essential to follow rather than Theory Y?


Yes, sure. Here’s an example—

Imagine a manufacturing plant that produces high precision and safety-critical components for the aerospace industry. In this scenario, there are strict regulations and standards that must be followed to ensure the quality and safety of the components. The work is highly structured, and there is little room for error.

In this scenario, an authoritarian management style (Theory X) may be necessary, as it provides clear rules and guidelines for employees to follow, and there is limited scope for creativity or improvisation. The manager may need to closely supervise employees and enforce strict discipline to ensure that the work is performed accurately and to the required standard.

In this case, a participative management style (Theory Y) may not be appropriate, as it could lead to confusion, lack of direction, and decreased efficiency. The manager may not have the time or resources to involve employees in decision-making processes, and the high-stakes nature of the work requires a more directive approach.

In conclusion, the nature of the work, industry regulations, and the consequences of mistakes may all influence the choice between Theory X and Theory Y. In this example, an authoritarian management style (Theory X) is essential for the success of the organization.


Now let’s talk about other management styles or theories. Yolanda, the car rental manager, went on a management course. She looked at the work of Frederick Herzberg, who studied what motivates employees. Here are the notes she took—

Some aspects of work can lead to dissatisfaction if they are not at a high enough standard.

These are what Herzberg calls the hygiene factors—

supervision – the way employees are managed

policy – the overall purpose and goals of the organization

working conditions – the place where you work, hours worked, etc.


peer relationships – how you relate to and work with others on the same level of the organization

security – level of confidence about the future of your job

What can you tell me about Hygiene factors?


Hygiene factors, as defined by Frederick Herzberg, are the basic necessities that must be met in order for employees to avoid dissatisfaction in the workplace. They include factors such as supervision, policy, working conditions, salary, peer relationships, and security. These factors are considered “maintenance” or “desire” elements, and do not necessarily provide motivation to employees.

Herzberg’s theory suggests that if these hygiene factors are not met, it can lead to dissatisfaction, low morale, and decreased job satisfaction among employees. However, even if all the hygiene factors are met, they may not necessarily lead to motivation and job satisfaction.

In other words, hygiene factors are important for avoiding job dissatisfaction, but they are not sufficient to drive motivation and satisfaction in the long term. To achieve this, Herzberg argued that an organization must also focus on factors such as recognition, responsibility, and achievement, which he called “motivators.”


So let’s talk more about the motivator factors— Other aspects of work can give positive satisfaction. These are the motivator factors—

achievement – the feeling that you have been successful in reaching your goals

recognition – the feeling that your employers understand and value what you do by giving positive feedback, which means telling you what a good job you are doing

the work itself – the nature and interest of the job

responsibility – when you are in charge of something and its success or failure

advancement – how far you will be promoted in the organization and/or how far you will go up the career ladder

personal growth – how you develop personally in your work, and your opportunities to do this

What can you tell me about motivator factors?


Motivator factors are factors that contribute to employee satisfaction and motivation at work. Herzberg identified six motivator factors that, if present, are believed to increase an individual’s motivation, engagement, and job satisfaction. These include achievement, recognition, the work itself, responsibility, advancement, and personal growth. In other words, employees are motivated when they feel that they are making progress and contributing to the success of the organization, are recognized for their efforts, enjoy their work, have responsibility and control over their tasks, see opportunities for growth and development, and feel a sense of personal growth through their work.


And finally let’s talk about empowerment. Empowerment is the idea that decisions, where possible, should be made by employees who are close to the issues or problems to be solved, without having to consult their managers further up the hierarchy. In other words, managers have to delegate as much as possible. Delegation is one of the keys to employees being empowered in this way. Also, organizations become less hierarchical, with fewer management levels. What do you think about that?


Empowerment is a management concept that has gained popularity in recent years. It emphasizes the importance of giving employees the power and responsibility to make decisions and take action in their areas of work. This approach can result in increased job satisfaction, motivation, and a stronger sense of ownership among employees. It can also lead to more efficient decision-making, as employees are closer to the issues and have a better understanding of the situation. However, effective delegation requires trust, clear communication, and proper training, so it may not be appropriate for all organizations or in all circumstances.


So can you summarize some of the key ideas related to management styles that we talked about.


Sure, we discussed several management styles—

Participative management style, where employees take part in the decision-making process and are given a sense of empowerment.

Theory X management style, where the manager believes that employees are lazy and need constant supervision. Decisions are imposed from above without consultation.

Theory Y management style, where the manager believes that given the right conditions, everyone has the potential to find satisfaction in work.

Hygiene factors and motivator factors, as identified by Frederick Herzberg, that impact job satisfaction and motivation.

Empowerment, where decisions are made by employees who are close to the problems, with the manager delegating as much as possible to reduce hierarchy in the organization.

Overall, different management styles have different approaches to motivating employees and delegating decision-making power. The effectiveness of a particular management style depends on the specific organizational context and individual employee needs and preferences.


Alright then. I think that’s everything we want to talk about when it comes to management styles. Of course, there are many other styles that we haven’t mentioned in this episode, and many of them are based on the management styles we talked about, but vary in a way and so they have their own names. However, the important thing to remember is that with these different styles of management, there’s is no right and wrong style. You should evaluate what style works best for your organization and your environment, and you need to find something that suits the people working with you in your organization. So, I hope you found our Let’s Talk Business episode useful, and don’t forget that we have a weekly Let’s Talk Business episode every Wednesday, so you don’t want to miss that.

Thank you very much for discussing the topic of management styles with me, Ben. I really appreciate it.


You’re welcome! I’m glad I could help.


And to our listeners everywhere, thank you very much for listening to yet another English Plus Podcast episode. That will be all for today. This is your host, Danny. I will see you next time.

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