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Blake and Mouton studied leadership behavior and described two extremes of leadership concern:
From these two dimensions, Blake and Mouton created the grid below. The grid helps you understand your predominant style on the scale of Concern for Productivity and Concern for People.
The scales run from 1-9 with, nine meaning a high amount of concern
Before we get into the styles. Let's be clear.
Every style of leadership has its place. There are times when an 'Authoritative' style of leadership is appropriate. There are times when a 'Country Club' style of leadership has its uses. The trick is to understand when the style is appropriate and be able to flex your style appropriately.
For example, when I worked at Colgate, we had a fire in our facility that caused significant damage. Luckily no-one was seriously injured. However, for the first day or two, we were more concerned about how people felt, and helping them move through the emotional impact the fire had had, than on clean-up and production.
It's generally thought that high-performance leaders move toward a 9,9 (Team Leader) style. As previously mentioned, depending upon the circumstances you find yourself in or the individual you are leading, this may or may not be the most appropriate style.
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The Five Styles Explained
The leader applies (and expects) minimal effort and has little concern for either staff satisfaction or work targets. The Impoverished leader is going through the motions. We describe him or her as indifferent, non-committal, resigned and apathetic. S/he is doing just enough to keep their job.
Working for this type of leader is disheartening and demoralizing.
(1,9) 'Country Club'
The leader is attentive to his/her people's needs and has developed satisfying relationships and work culture. Unfortunately at the expense of achieving results. The leader is agreeable, eager to help, non-confrontational, comforting and uncontroversial.
People like you. That's the good news! The downside? Generally, you aren't particularly productive.
Not only that, if you feel this is you, then think about this for a moment. If being 'well-liked' is your base agenda, whose needs are you putting first? (Albeit, to be 'liked' is often a deeply rooted need, oftentimes sitting in your subconscious. That means you may not even be aware of how you might be sabotaging yourself and your team.)
Now, this is important. If you are 'being nice' and not giving someone the feedback they need to shine ... how people focused are you indeed? A 1,9 leader is more focused upon his or her need to be liked than helping his/her team to grow.
I worked with a leader once who sat very deeply in this quadrant. Eventually, all of us in the facility (including his team members who loved him), got fed up with his lack of results and the conflict that he created because he kept agreeing with everyone.
(5,5) 'Middle of the Road' (Politician)
This leader is a compromiser who wants to maintain the status quo and avoid any problems. S/he is aware of and wants a focus on productivity but not at the expense of the morale of his/her team.
Middle of the road leadership is just that ... middle of the road. It is 'blah,' and you certainly won't get to lead a high-performing team if you find yourself sitting in this quadrant.
The leader concentrates almost exclusively on achieving results. People are viewed as a commodity to be used to get the job done. "I tell you what to do, and you execute precisely to my requirements."
This leader de-emphasizes communication and resolves conflict by suppressing it. Interestingly enough this principle holds for the 1,9 leader as well.
Leadership is controlling, demanding and over-powering. This quadrant is all about the leader running on a fear of failure. If they rely on you to get the job done (in your way), and you screw it up ... they're the ones that will look bad. And they can't have that!
(9,9) 'Team Leader'
The Team leader achieves high work performance through 'leading' his/her people to being dedicated to the organizational goals. There is a high degree of participation and teamwork. This satisfies the basic need of people to be involved and their contribution matters. The leader is characterized as open-minded, flexible and one who inspires involvement.
Generally, 9,9 is where there is mutual regard and respect. I try to lead from this quadrant as often as possible. It leads to better decisions even in crises. When a leader has built trust and rapport the team members will feel comfortable to offer insights and opinions, even if they are 'bad news.'
It's all about getting the job done while caring for your people.
In the numerous Grid workshops that Blake & Mouton ran over the years, they found that most managers/leaders rated themselves in the 9,9 quadrant. Who wouldn't want to be there right?
They found that of the thousands of participants who, after reading their book and before attending their workshops 80% of them rated themselves as 9,9 leaders. Once they'd participated in the workshops, gained some insight and feedback, that 80% turned to 20%!
In effect, 60% of people are self-deluded that they are 9,9 managers when in fact they fall elsewhere on the grid.
What does this mean for you?
Well, you should spend some time reflecting on your leadership style. The best time to do it is straight after a meeting. Take a few minutes and think about:
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