The style approach to leadership focuses on the behavior of the leader, specifically what they do and how they act toward subordinates in various situations (Northouse, 2013). The research on the style approach is important because it identifies the behaviors of successful leaders. Armed with this knowledge, hiring and training programs can be created to help employees learn new behaviors. Organizations can then promote those demonstrating these behaviors to help them achieve their goals. In addition, this approach applies in various situations, which differs from other leadership theories (Pennsylvania, 2014). One of the many studies conducted on the style approach was performed by Blake and Mouton. It inspired the development of their Leadership (Managerial) Grid. This tool analyzes an individual’s degree of task-centeredness versus person-centeredness and categorizes the results into five leadership styles. The Blake and Mouton Leadership Grid is a great tool for leaders and their individual development; it helps to build better leaders and more successful organizations.
Robert Blake and Jane Mouton developed a model of managerial behavior known as the Management Grid in the early 1960s, which has since been renamed the Leadership Grid. It has been widely used in organizational training and development, and focuses on how leaders can help organizations reach their purposes (Northouse, 2013). As mentioned above, the grid focuses on a leader’s concern for production (task-centeredness) and concern for people (person-centeredness). The former describes the leader’s level of concern with achieving organizational objectives, and the latter represents the leader’s level of consideration of team members’ needs who are attempting to achieve the firm’s goals (Pennsylvania, 2014). The levels are plotted on a nine-point scale on a dual axis grid, and the output illustrates the specific leadership style of the individual.
My college major is Organizational Leadership. Working toward a future leadership position in my organization and simply being curious about the validity and usefulness of this tool, I completed the Leadership Grid Questionnaire (http://www.stellarleadership.com/docs/Leadership/assessment/Managerial%20Grid%20Questionnaire.pdf), which is the first step of the process. The questionnaire consists of 18 statements to which I responded zero to five on a scale of the extent to which the statement applies to me (zero represents never and five represents always). I transferred the numerical answers into two corresponding columns in a scoring section of the questionnaire. A simple calculation was made, and my scores were converted into plots on the Leadership Grid. The intersection of the horizontal and vertical lines drawn from these two points signifies the leadership dimension in which I normally operate. This leadership style is one of five that is recognized by the Blake and Mouton model.
The results depicted on the Leadership Grid associate my score of 7,8 as a team management style of leadership (Northouse, 2013). According to Blake and Mouton’s model, this style stresses the production needs and people needs highly and equally. When both needs coincide, a team environment based on trust and respect is formed, and this leads to high satisfaction, motivation, and high production (The Blake Mouton Managerial Grid, 1996-2014). Some descriptive words and phrases associated with this type of leader are: sets clear priorities, follows through, encourages participation, determined, open-minded (Northouse, 2013). This result is great news to me, but I need to know how to apply it to my professional goals.
The Leadership Grid helps individuals to understand their natural tendencies and areas on which to improve as a leader. According to the grid, my style of leadership, team management, produces the most successful leaders because it represents high levels of concern for both team and production (Pennsylvania, 2014). Training programs based on the grid attempt to move leaders toward the team management style; however, it does not mean that these leaders are the most effective (Pennsylvania, 2014). Although equally high levels of concern in both areas are generally accepted, different situations often demand different styles of leadership (The Blake Mouton Managerial Grid, 1996-2014). For example, when morale is low in an organization, which is the case for my current employer, higher emphasis should be placed on people rather than production to result in more satisfied subordinates. On the other hand, if a firm encounters a financial hardship, a focus on high production is warranted.
The style approach to leadership focuses on the behavior of the leader. It examines their performance with regard to tasks and relationships, but it does not give recommendations for how leaders should act because their actions often depend on the situation. Based on this leadership style, Blake and Mouton’s Leadership Grid is a useful tool to provide leaders with knowledge of their own style and to remind them that too much emphasis in one area at the expense of another can sometimes lead to low production (The Blake Mouton Managerial Grid, 1996-2014). Understanding where I fall on the grid helps me to know how I regard production in relation to people, and areas on which I can improve to become a successful leader.
Managerial Grid Questionnaire. (2010). Retrieved from http://www.stellarleadership.com/docs/Leadership/assessment/Managerial%20Grid%20Questionnaire.pdf
Northouse, P. G. (2013). Leadership: Theory and Practice (6th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA, SAGE Publications, Inc.
Pennsylvania State University World Campus, (2014). Lesson Commentary 5: Style and Situational Approaches. Retrieved February 14, 2014, from: https://courses.worldcampus.psu.edu/sp14/psych485/001/content/065_lesson/01_page.html
The Blake Mouton Managerial Grid (1996-2014). Retrieved from http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newLDR_73.htm