Leadership Style – Not “one size fits all”

June 13, 2012 | By

LeadershipLeadership style is the manner and approach of providing direction, implementing plans, and motivating people. There can seem to be as many ways to lead people as there are leaders. Fortunately, psychologists have developed useful, simple ways to describe the main styles of leadership. By understanding these styles and their impact, you can develop your own approach to leadership and become a more effective leader.

Different types of leadership

The Blake and Mouton Managerial Grid (1985), also known as the Leadership Grid uses two axis: “Concern for people” is plotted using the vertical axis, “Concern for production” is plotted along the horizontal axis. They both have a range of 0 to 9. These two dimensions can be drawn as a graph or grid:

Leadership Grid

Many people fall somewhere near the middle of the two axis (5,5); this is called Middle of the road management. Leaders in this category seem to achieve a balance between people relationships and results, but are basically compromisers in nature. They compromise on conviction to make some progress and as a result miss out on push for results and also on drive for creating a true team culture. Such leader is characterized as avoiding conflicts.

By going to the extremes, that is, people who score on the far end of the scales, we come up with four types of leaders:

  • Authority – Compliance Management or task management (9,1). Leaders who fall in this category heavily emphasize results with minimum concern for people. They consider people merely as a means to achieve desired results. The leader is often characterized as controlling, overpowering, over driving and coercive.
  • Country club management (1,9). Leaders falling in this category are those who are concerned more welfare and personal needs of people and lack the focus on task accomplishment. The leader is often characterized democratic but also is seen as ineffective in driving the people toward achievement of goals.
  • Impoverished management (1,1). Leaders in this category are generally those who arrived here merely by means of their position, and are simply viewed as going through the motions of being a leader. They are characterized as indifferent, non-committal, un-involved and withdrawn.
  • Team management (9,9). Leaders in this category consider people relation, commitment and empowerment as a means of achieving goals. They are open to learning, view conflicts as opportunity for innovative thinking, clarify goals and set high expectation and provide learning opportunity for people in the course of completion of the task. Such leader is characterized as driving trust and learning in the teams.

One might be inclined to think that the most desirable place for a leader to be along the two axes at most times would be a 9 on task and a 9 on people (Team Leader), however, one should not entirely dismiss the other three. Certain situations might call for one of the other three to be used at times. For example, by playing the Impoverished Leader, you allow your team to gain self-reliance. Be an Authoritarian Leader to instill a sense of discipline in an unmotivated worker. By carefully studying the situation and the forces affecting it, you will know at what points along the axes you need to be in order to achieve the desired result.

You can test your preferred leadership style in the Competency Scan.

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