Effective managers must balance the need to achieve business goals with leading teams of diverse, creative people with unique personalities and talents. Success requires solid critical thinking and people skills. Managers must have the ability to understand an organization’s “big picture” and the nuances of relationships that lead to happier, more productive employees.

These skills culminate in a leader who understands business goals and how to lead teams to help achieve them. These leaders have clarity in all their actions, from communicating goals to setting clear expectations, priorities, and timelines.

Top leaders must stay current on the latest management trends, especially in an economic transition where technology and employee burnout (including “quiet quitting”) disrupt workforces across every industry. Earning a management degree helps professionals better understand these challenges.

What Are Popular Management Theories in Business?

Three main categories of management theories have dominated discussions about strategic approaches to management for decades.

  • Classical management. This theory first gained popularity during the Industrial Revolution of the late 19th century. It revolves around the efficient production of goods and services.
  • Behavioral management. In the early 20th century, many businesses focused more on human and social elements within the workplace.
  • Modern management. After World War II, business leaders combined mathematical principles and sociology to develop new management strategies.

These three areas provide a foundation for considering management theory, but it’s grown in the modern management period to include many different approaches. Many modern management theories incorporate the psychology of management, including consideration of what drives employees to become more productive and creative and what gives them the most satisfaction in their work.

A list created by Very Well Mind offers a glimpse into the variety of these theories.

The “Great Man” Theory

Some believe that certain people are inherently better at leading and have certain traits of great leaders. Steve Jobs is often used as an example of this theory.

Situational Theory

This theory proposes that wise leaders make decisions based on the situation rather than always adhering to one idea. They may switch from an authoritarian approach to a more democratic one, depending on the situation.

Participative Theory

In this theory, leaders seek the opinions and ideas of colleagues before making decisions. This helps foster an environment where “group members feel more relevant and committed to the decision-making process,” according to Very Well Mind. It requires that managers have advanced people skills.

Transactional Theory

This bases business management on a system of rewards and punishments. Those who do well get bonuses and improved chances of promotion, for example, while those who perform poorly do not enjoy those benefits and may also be reprimanded.

Relationship Theory

This focuses on the relationships between leaders and their employees. Managers using this theory are motivated to become transformative leaders who motivate and inspire people to attain their full potential.

What Are the Qualities of a Good Manager?

While the details of their jobs differ, good managers have common traits no matter their industry. These qualities work together to create positive leadership that makes employees more productive and helps them achieve their career goals.

  • Self-awareness. By understanding their strengths, weaknesses, values, and beliefs, leaders can improve their performance and understand the impact of their behavior on others.
  • Trustworthiness. Employers are more engaged with work when they have a manager who demonstrates transparency and trustworthiness through their daily actions.
  • Empathy. A high level of emotional intelligence helps business leaders understand the emotions of others, including their attitudes toward work and what motivates them.
  • Organization. Time management and the ability to prioritize and align daily tasks with long-term business goals result from managers with organizational expertise. 
  • Critical thinking. Leaders require highly developed critical thinking skills to succeed. This includes quickly assessing a situation and making a sound decision on moving forward.
  • Strategic planning. Smart leaders understand the need to set ambitious goals and the “nuts and bolts” of applying a strategic plan to real-world challenges.

The NMU Global Campus Online BS in Management Degree

The NMU Global Campus Bachelor of Science in Management degree program prepares graduates to step into management roles. The 100% online program offers working adults the flexibility to advance their careers while earning a bachelor’s degree on a schedule that works best for them. Students also can transfer up to 90 previously earned credits into the program.

The program curriculum explores both the quantitative and qualitative aspects of management. Students explore various business-related topics, including law, finance, economics, and strategic management. Students learn from scholar-practitioners who have experience in the field that they teach.

NMU Global Campus also offers online students the chance to participate in industry-relevant internships that provide students with real-world management experience. The BS in Management degree program focuses on traditional business skills as well as solving the challenges of the 21st-century workplace.