Saswat is everyone’s favorite manager at work. He always treats everyone equally, rewards the best performers with free lunch and is genuinely concerned about his team’s well-being. But when there are urgent project deadlines, he ensures that the team is completely dedicated to what needs to be done. He effectively manages their milestones, asks for weekly updates and has them work on weekends if needed.

Saswat’s leadership style changes according to the need of the hour. This sort of flexible leadership behavior is seen in the Managerial Grid Theory. Read on to see how you can adjust your leadership approach according to different situations and needs.

What Are Leadership Theories?

Leadership is the art of motivating people to work towards a common goal. But motivating people isn’t enough, leaders need to connect with people. Effective leaders exhibit many qualities including, strong communication, management, innovative thinking, level-headedness and resilience in the face of challenges.

For many years, leadership has been a topic of contention among psychologists. Researchers and scholars have tried to discover the qualities and behavioral patterns that successful leaders share giving rise to different schools of thought. One among them is the Managerial Grid Theory of Leadership.

What Is Managerial Grid Theory?

The Managerial Grid Model emerged during a prominent time in leadership studies. Developed in the 1960s, it was proposed by Robert R. Blake and Jane S. Mouton, two management theoreticians. The model was a product of their research findings at Exxon (a large multinational oil and gas company), where they worked to improve leader effectiveness. They found out that a leader’s behavior is influenced by:

  • The need to adopt different leadership approaches in accordance with situations

  • Their psychological makeup

Blake and Mouton went ahead to establish a ‘Managerial Grid’ in their book, The Managerial Grid: The Key to Leadership Excellence (1964). The grid depicts two behavioral dimensions of leadership:

  1. Concern For People (Vertical Axis)

The degree to which a manager or a leader considers the needs of team members, their interests and personal areas of development when deciding how best to complete a task.

  1. Concern For Production/Results (Horizontal Axis) 

The degree to which a manager or a leader prioritizes organizational efficiency, long-term objectives and high levels of productivity when deciding how best to complete a task.

In a nutshell, the Managerial Grid Theory of Leadership is a framework that helps you determine what leadership style you should pick. It solves a common dilemma faced by many managers, ‘should I focus on tasks or on people?’. If you have a project to manage, the grid helps you pick between task-oriented and/or people-oriented approaches.

Managerial Grid Leadership Styles

The Blake-Bouton Managerial Model identified five leadership styles from various combinations of the two dimensions of leadership behavior.

  1. Impoverished Leadership

Leaders with this approach have minimal concern for people and production, putting in very little effort to get work done. Blake and Mouton stated that this leadership style was the least effective of all. Low employee satisfaction and business growth make it impossible for such leaders to flourish.

  1. Task Leadership

Leaders with high concern for production but low concern for people are task leaders. Their primary focus is on performance, which is why they plan and control the production environment. In order to successfully achieve business objectives, everyone’s required to perform tasks as per rules, deadlines and procedures. However, paying less attention to employees can lead to an unhappy work environment, further leading to low retention rates.

  1. Country Club Leadership

Opposite of Task Leadership, the Country Club Style is characterized by a low concern for production and high concern for people. Such leaders intend to create a cordial and comfortable working environment that increases job satisfaction. People get motivated to work harder because their well-being is prioritized. However, paying less attention to business goals can lead to unsatisfactory outcomes.

  1. Middle Of The Road Leadership

As the title suggests, this leadership style places equal importance on organizational goals and personal needs. Leaders focus on performance by balancing work requirements and employee morale. However, neither production nor people’s needs are fully met.

  1. Team Leadership

This leadership style is characterized by a high concern for both people and production and is regarded as the most effective leadership style. It creates a highly encouraging workplace culture, where people are motivated, productive and cooperative. They want to champion business goals that are created by the leader.

Using The Managerial Grid

You can analyze your leadership style by using the Managerial Grid Theory. You can break down the process into these few simple steps.

  1. Identify Your Managerial Style 

Evaluate how you’ve acted in a recent situation in terms of tasks and team collaboration. Position yourself on the Managerial Grid accordingly.

  1. Identify Areas For Development 

Identify from the five leadership styles and see what you associate most with. Does the style suit your needs and context?

  1. Situation-Based Contextualization 

Some situations will require a task-oriented mindset and others will require a people-oriented mindset. Either way, the Managerial Grid will enhance flexibility.

Learn how to improve self-awareness and personal development with Harappa Education’s Leading Self course. The Performance Equation framework will teach you how to recognize your true potential and overcome limiting beliefs. Additionally, the Ladder of Learning framework will help you assess your competence and skills. Learn how to take ownership and shine as an effective leader!

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