Discussion: Organizational Behavior: Leadership Style
A small group of nurses, employed at a large community hospital, were unhappy about their work environment and would meet daily during lunch to discuss the situation. There had been a recent change in the hospital’s senior management, which caused a high level of uncertainty and anxiety among the nursing staff. The nurses felt overworked as a result of the industry’s current nursing shortage. Their wages and benefits had been stagnant, with no salary market adjustments for the past two years. The nurses saw the situation as management requiring them to do more work with fewer resources, with no appreciation or recognition of their efforts. Whenever the nurses approached management with their concerns, they perceived them as falling on deaf ears since no changes were made.
Feeling like they had no other choice, the nurses contacted a labor union. The labor union began an organizing effort in the hospital shortly thereafter, holding an aggressive campaign over a six-week period. There was tremendous peer pressure, as some of the well-respected nursing staff became active leaders for unionization, although they were not part of the initial group of nurses who had contacted the union. The election was held, and the union was voted in by two-thirds of the nursing staff. In the weeks that followed, the original group of nurses remarked that they were surprised by the union’s victory; they had only wanted to scare management into making changes to their work environment.
Using Blake and Mouton’s Leadership Grid, explain and discuss the leadership style displayed by management to the nursing staff. Support your analysis with scholarly sources.
Note: Blake and Mouton’s Leadership Grid can be found in Chapter 9 – Trait and Behavioral Theories of Leadership of Organizational Behavior in Health Care in the Trident Online Library.
Your posts will be graded on how well they meet the Discussion Requirements posted in the “Before You Begin” section. Please review this section as well as the discussion scoring rubric.
What’s your priority when you welcome a new person into your team?
Do you focus on tasks, by explaining his or her objectives? Or, do you focus on the person, by taking the time to understand his interests and strengths so you can give him tasks that he’ll enjoy?
And which approach will achieve the best results?
The Blake Mouton Managerial Grid is a framework for understanding your management style, and how to make it more effective.
The grid is based on two behavioral dimensions.
The first dimension is Concern for People. In other words, how highly you prioritize a team member’s needs, interests and personal development.
The second dimension is Concern for Results. This refers to how strongly you emphasize your people’s efficiency and productivity.
The grid shows five management styles based on the balance of these two concerns. Let’s take a closer look at each one.
The Impoverished or “Indifferent” Manager has a low focus on getting the job done, and has little interest in motivating team members. The results are disorganization and dissatisfaction.
The Produce-or-Perish Manager is totally focused on results, and doesn’t pay much attention to the needs of his team members. His strict rules can produce good results at first, but low morale will eventually affect performance and retention.
A Middle-of-the-Road or “Status Quo” Manager tries to balance results and people, but she’s always making compromises. She fails to inspire high performance or meet her team members’ needs. This produces mediocre results.
The Country Club or “Accommodating” Manager is most concerned about his team’s needs and feelings. Often, the result is a fun, relaxed workplace. But, productivity suffers, due to a lack of motivation, direction and control.
Team Management is the most effective management style. Team Managers prioritize both getting work done and their people’s needs. They make sure that team members understand the organization’s goals, and that they have a stake in achieving them. This creates an environment based on trust and respect, which leads to high satisfaction, increased motivation and excellent results.
What Is the Blake Mouton Grid?
The Blake Mouton Grid plots a manager’s or leader’s degree of task-centeredness versus their person-centeredness, and identifies five different combinations of the two and the leadership styles they produce. It’s also known as the Managerial Grid, or Leadership Grid, and was developed in the early 1960s by management theorists Robert Blake and Jane Mouton.
The model is based on two behavioral dimensions:
· Concern for People: this is the degree to which a leader considers team members’ needs, interests and areas of personal development when deciding how best to accomplish a task.
· Concern for Results: this is the degree to which a leader emphasizes concrete objectives, organizational efficiency and high productivity when deciding how best to accomplish a task.
Blake and Mouton defined five leadership styles based on these, as illustrated in the diagram below.
Figure 1 – The Blake Mouton Grid
The Leadership Grid® figure from “Leadership Dilemmas – Grid Solutions,” by Robert R. Blake and Anne Adams McCanse (formerly the Managerial Grid by Robert R. Blake and Jane S. Mouton). Houston: Gulf Publishing Company, Copyright 1991 by Grid International, Inc.
Let’s take a look at the five leadership styles in detail.
1. Impoverished Management – Low Results/Low People
The Impoverished or “indifferent” manager is mostly ineffective. With a low regard for creating systems that get the job done, and with little interest in creating a satisfying or motivating team environment
, this manager’s results are inevitably disorganization, dissatisfaction and disharmony.
2. Produce-or-Perish Management – High Results/Low People
Also known as “authoritarian” or “authority-compliance” managers, people in this category believe that their team members are simply a means to an end. The team’s needs are always secondary to its productivity.
This type of manager is autocratic, has strict work rules, policies and procedures, and can view punishment as an effective way of motivating team members. This approach can drive impressive production results at first, but low team morale and motivation will ultimately affect people’s performance, and this type of leader will struggle to retain high performers.
They probably adhere to the Theory X approach to motivation, which assumes that employees are naturally unmotivated and dislike working. A manager who believes people are self-motivated and happy to work is said to follow Theory Y. You can learn more about these theories in our article, Theory X and Theory Y
3. Middle-of-the-Road Management – Medium Results/Medium People
A Middle-of-the-Road or “status quo” manager tries to balance results and people, but this strategy is not as effective as it may sound. Through continual compromise, they fail to inspire high performance and also fail to meet people’s needs fully. The result is that their team will likely deliver only mediocre performance.
4. Country Club Management – High People/Low Results
The Country Club or “accommodating” style of manager is most concerned about their team members’ needs and feelings. They assume that, as long as their people are happy
and secure, they’ll work hard.
What tends to be the result is a work environment that is very relaxed and fun, but where productivity suffers because there is a lack of direction and control.
5. Team Management – High Production/High People
According to the Blake Mouton model, Team Management is the most effective leadership style. It reflects a leader who is passionate about their work and who does the best they can for the people they work with.
Team or “sound” managers commit to their organization’s goals and mission, motivate the people who report to them, and work hard to get people to stretch themselves to deliver great results. But, at the same time, they’re inspiring figures who look after their teams. Someone led by a Team manager feels respected and empowered, and is committed to achieving her goals.
Team managers prioritize both the organization’s production needs and their people’s needs. They do this by making sure that their team members understand the organization’s purpose
, and by involving them in determining production needs.
When people are committed to, and have a stake in, the organization’s success, their needs and production needs coincide. This creates an environment based on trust and respect, which leads to high satisfaction, motivation and excellent results. Team managers likely adopt the Theory Y approach to motivation, as we mentioned above.
Blake and his colleagues added two more leadership styles after Mouton’s death in 1987, although neither appears on the grid itself, for the reasons explained below.
· Paternalistic Management. A Paternalistic manager will jump between the Country Club and Produce-or-Perish styles. This type of leader can be supportive and encouraging, but will also guard their own position – and paternalistic managers don’t appreciate anyone questioning the way they think.
· Opportunistic Management. This doesn’t appear on the grid because this style can show up anywhere within it. Opportunistic managers place their own needs first, shifting around the grid to adopt whichever style will benefit them. They will manipulate and take advantage of others to get what they want.
Applying the Blake Mouton Grid
It is important to understand your management or leadership style, so that you can then identify ways of reaching the target position of Team manager.
Step One: Identify Your Managerial Style
· List five or six recent situations where you were the leader.
· For each situation, place yourself on the grid according to where you believe you fit.
· Use our self-assessment leadership quiz
· to help you spot your traits.
Step Two: Identify Areas Where You Can Improve and Develop Your Leadership Skills
· Look at your current approach. Are you settling for “Middle-of-the-Road” because it’s easier than reaching for more? Think about whether your style suits the situation you are in.
· If you feel that you are too task-oriented, then you can try to involve your team members in creative problem solving
, improve how you communicate with them, or work on your mentoring skills. Or, if you tend to focus too much on people, it may mean becoming clearer about scheduling and monitoring project progress, or improving your decision making
Continually monitor your performance and watch for situations where you slip back into bad old habits
Step Three: Put the Grid in Context
The Team Management style is often the most effective approach, but there are situations that call for more attention to one area than the other. For example, if your company is in the middle of a merger or some other significant change, then it can be acceptable to place a higher emphasis on people than on production, to guide them and reassure them through a potentially difficult time. Likewise, when faced with an emergency, an economic hardship, or a physical risk, concerns about people may be put to one side, for the short term at least, to achieve good results and efficiency.
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What Are the Disadvantages of the Blake Mouton Grid?
Theories of leadership have moved on a certain amount since Blake and Mouton proposed their model half a century ago. In particular, the context in which leadership occurs is seen as an important driver of leadership style
. And in many situations, the Team Manager as an ideal has shifted towards the “Transformational Leader.”
So use the Managerial Grid as a helpful model for identifying your basic leadership style, but don’t treat it as an “eternal truth.”
The Blake Mouton Grid plots a manager’s or leader’s degree of task-centeredness versus their person-centeredness, and identifies five different combinations of the two and the leadership styles they produce.
By plotting “concern for results” against “concern for people,” the grid highlights how placing too much emphasis on one area at the expense of the other leads to poor results. It also discourages a vague Middle-of-the-Road compromise.
The model proposes that, when concern for both people and results are high, employee engagement and productivity will likely be excellent.
While the grid does not entirely address the complexity of “which leadership style is best?,” it certainly provides an excellent starting point for thinking about your own performance and for improving your general leadership skills.