How to answer "What is your management or leadership style?" (with sample answers)

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This post is part of our series on behavioral interview questions.

Why Employers Ask This Question

The question, “What is your management or leadership style?” is a common one in job interviews, especially for leadership positions. Employers ask this question to gain insight into how you manage and lead teams, your communication skills, and how well you adapt to different situations and team dynamics. The answer will help them determine if your leadership style aligns with the company culture and if you are the right fit for the job.

If you are applying for a management position, the employer needs to know how you would handle employees, what motivates you and how you would encourage them to work together effectively. Additionally, your answer can determine whether you will be seen as fit to lead and mentor employees or not.

How to Answer the Question

When answering the question, it is essential to acknowledge that different situations may require different leadership styles. An effective leader should be able to adapt their style according to the situation and team dynamics. Here’s how to prepare to answer this question,

  1. Start by defining your leadership or management style: Take the time to explore different types of leadership styles, such as autocratic, democratic, transformational, and laissez-faire. Identify your natural tendencies as a leader, then choose a style or combination of styles that aligns with your values and approach.
  2. Showcase the Benefits: Whatever style you claim to have, make sure your answer focuses on how it benefits team performance, productivity, and employee morale.
  3. Provide examples: Use examples of how you have implemented your leadership or management style in previous jobs or situations. Explain the challenges you faced and how you overcame them.
  4. Keep it Relevant: Tailor your answer to the role. If it's a customer-facing role, emphasizing how you prioritize customer satisfaction and build lasting relationships may be more effective.
  5. Be Authentic: While you may be eager to impress, don’t make the mistake of being insincere. Hiring managers can detect when someone is trying to fake their responses. They want to know the real you- Why you have chosen that style and how it aligns with the company's goals.

Sample answers

  1. Bad answer:

    My management style is to be hands-off and let my team members figure things out on their own. I don't like to micromanage or interfere too much.

    This answer is bad because it comes across as lazy and uninvolved. A good manager should provide guidance and support to their team members, and should be invested in their development and success.

  2. Good answer:

    My management style is to be supportive and collaborative. I believe in setting clear expectations and providing regular feedback and recognition to my team members. I also like to involve them in decision-making and problem-solving processes.

    This answer is good because it shows that the candidate is committed to communication and teamwork. A collaborative leadership style can foster innovation and trust within a team, and can result in better outcomes for the organization.

  3. Bad answer:

    I'm a very strict and demanding manager. I have high expectations for my team members and I don't tolerate any mistakes or failures. I believe in using fear and intimidation to motivate people.

    This answer is bad because it shows a lack of empathy and emotional intelligence. A manager who relies on fear and intimidation is likely to have high turnover, low morale and poor results. This style of management can also create a toxic work environment.

  4. Good answer:

    My management style is adaptive. I understand that different team members have different skill sets, communication styles and motivators. I try to be flexible and tailor my approach to each individual, while still maintaining clear standards and expectations.

    This answer is good because it shows that the candidate is willing to meet their team members where they are at and adapt to their needs. A good leader should be flexible and empathetic, and should be able to navigate diverse work styles and personalities.

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