Contrasting Middle-School Management Styles

Written by lewsauder

May 16, 2011

Management Styles

Middle-School Management Styles

Like millions of kids out there, my son is just winding down the school year.  He’s a good student but also a free spirit and sometimes goes beyond his limits to the point of being disruptive in class.  Over the course of the school year, I’ve observed some interesting dynamics between him and two very different teachers.

Command and control management style

One teacher has a command-and-control, my-way-or-the-highway management style of classroom management and – not surprisingly – is regularly butting heads with my son.  He at times ridicules students when they ask questions by telling them they should know the answer, robbing them of the confidence to ask questions. In parent-teacher conferences this teacher’s report was that he frequently has to keep my son in line.

Adaptable management style

Another teacher relates to him.  He adapts his classroom management style to each student and gives my son the freedom to be himself.  He encourages his students to be creative and has made his class a fun environment in which to learn.  At the parent-teacher conference with this teacher, he told me how much he likes my son and wishes they were next door neighbors so they could just sit and chat.

Whenever any of my kids face adversity, whether it’s personal failure, difficult people or just bad luck, we try to treat it as a life-lesson; life isn’t always fair and they will face adversity on a nearly daily basis in life.  The more they learn to deal with it, the more successful they will be.  I thought about that as I met with and heard stories about these two teachers throughout the school year.

We work with people that have styles and approaches that aren’t optimally matched with our own.  To be successful, we need to deal with all of these different styles.

See my related post: A High School Inspiration That Lives On

In the consulting environment, you may have a different manager for each project and deal with a diverse mix of client managers as you move from client to client.  A critical success factor will be how much you can emulate the second teacher in this story and adapt to the various styles of managers, co-workers and subordinates.

What type of management style do you find most effective?

If you would like to learn more about working in consulting, get Lew’s book Consulting 101: 101 Tips for Success in Consulting at

As always, I welcome your comments and criticisms.

Lew’s Books at Amazon:

Project Management 101
Consulting 101
The Reluctant Mentor

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