Blake and Mouton Managerial Grid
Giving examples to demonstrate your understanding of leadership, discuss the Mouton and Blake’s managerial grid Blake and Mouton identified two fundamental drivers of managerial behaviour as concern for getting the job done, and concern for the people doing the work. They argued that an exclusive concern for production at the expense of the needs of those engaged in production leads to dissatisfaction and conflict, thus adversely affecting performance and on the other hand an excessive concern to avoid conflict and maintain good relationships is also detrimental to the achievement of goals and objectives. The Blake Mouton Managerial Grid is viewed as practical and useful framework that helps managers think about their leadership styles. The model proposes that when both people and production concerns are high, employee engagement and productivity increase accordingly. This is often true, and it follows the ideas of Theories X and Y, and other participative management theories.
In order to provide a framework for describing management behaviours, the two variables of “concern for production” and “concern for people” were plotted on a grid showing nine degrees of concern for each, from 1 indicating a low level of concern, to 9 indicating a high level of concern. Five positions on the grid were plotted, representing five differing managerial behaviour patterns. By plotting ‘concern for production’ against ‘concern for people’, the grid highlights how placing too much emphasis in one area at the expense of the other leads to low overall productivity. The Model The Managerial Grid is based on two behavioural dimensions:
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How it works
- Concern for People – This is the degree to which a leader considers the needs of team members, their interests, and areas of personal development when deciding how best to accomplish a task
- Concern for Production – This is the degree to which a leader emphasises concrete objectives, organisational efficiency and high productivity when deciding how best to accomplish a task.
Using the axis to plot leadership ‘concerns for production’ versus ‘concerns for people’, Blake and Mouton defined the following five leadership styles:
- Country Club Leadership – High People/Low Production
This style of leader is most concerned about the needs and feelings of members of his/her team. These people operate under the assumption that as long as team members are happy and secure then they will work hard. He is almost incapable of employing the more punitive, coercive and legitimate powers. This inability results from fear that using such powers could jeopardise relationships with the other team members. The organisation will end up to be a friendly atmosphere, but not necessarily very productive. What tends to result is a work environment that is very relaxed and fun but where production suffers due to lack of direction and control. This leadership style is defined as non-confrontational, comforting and uncontroversial as it mainly emphasises human relations. Charity and church related organisations tend to follow this kind of leadership style.
- Produce or Perish Leadership – High Production/Low People
Also known as Authoritarian or Compliance Leaders, people in this category believe that employees are simply a means to an end. Employee needs are lways secondary to the need for efficient and productive workplaces. This type of leader is very autocratic, has strict work rules, policies, and procedures, and views punishment as the most effective means to motivate employees. The leader concentrates almost exclusively on achieving results and people are viewed as commodities used to get the job done. Communication is de emphasised and conflict is resolved by suppression. He provides his employees with money and expects performance back. There is little or no allowance for co-operation or collaboration. He pressures his employees through rules and punishments to achieve the company goals. This style, also referred to as dictatorial style, is based on Theory X of Douglas McGregor. It is often applied by companies on the edge of real or perceived failure, such as in crisis management. In this case, whilst high output is achievable in the short term, much will be lost through an inevitable high labour turnover. This pattern corresponds to the traditional authority-based style of command and control management style typically found in army and high productivity concentrated organisations.
- Impoverished Leadership – Low Production/ Low People
This is a delegate-and-disappear management style. These leaders are mostly ineffective and avoid getting into trouble and use this style to preserve job seniority and protect them. They have neither a high regard for creating systems for getting the job done, nor for creating a work environment that is satisfying and motivating. The result is a place of disorganisation, dissatisfaction and disharmony. The leader is normally regarded as indifferent, resigned and pathetic and is doing enough to keep his/her job.
- Middle-of-the-road Leadership (Politician)- Medium Production/Medium People
This style seems to be a balance of the two competing concerns. It may at first appear to be an ideal compromise but compromises occur where neither need are fully met. Leaders who use this style settle for average performance. This leader is a compromiser who wants to maintain the status quo and avoid any problems.
- Team Leadership – High Production/High People
According to the Blake Mouton model, this is the pinnacle of managerial style. These leaders stress production needs and the needs of the people equally highly and are based on the propositions of Theory Y of Douglas McGregor. The manager encourages teamwork and commitment among employees. The premise here is that employees are involved in understanding organisational purpose and determining production needs. When employees are committed to, and have a stake in the organisation’s success, their needs and production needs coincide. This creates a team environment based on trust and respect, which leads to high satisfaction . The leader achieves high work performance through ‘leading’ his/her people to become dedicated to the organisational goals. There is a high degree of participation and teamwork, which satisfies the basic need of people to be involved and committed to their work. The leader may be characterised as open-minded, flexible and one who inspires involvement. The team Leader as an ideal has moved to the ideal of the transformational leader and is someone who, according to leadership researcher Bernard Bass:
- Is a model of integrity and fairness;
- Sets clear goals;
- Has high expectations;
- Provides support and recognition;
- Stirs people’s emotions;
- Gets people to look beyond their self-interest;
- Inspires people to reach for the improbable.
Applying the Blake Mouton Managerial Grid Being aware of the various approaches is the first step in understanding and improving how well you perform as a manager. It is important to understand how you currently operate, so that you can then identify ways of becoming competent in both realms.
Step One: Identify your leadership style.
- Think of some recent situations where you were the leader.
- For each of these situations, place yourself in the grid according to where you believe you fit.
Step Two: Identify areas of improvement and develop your leadership skills
- Look at your current leadership method and ritically analyse its effectiveness.
- Look at ways you can improve.
- Identify ways to get the skills you need to reach the Team Leadership position. These may include involving others in problem solving or improving how you communicate with them.
- Continually monitor your performance and watch for situations when you slip back into bad old habits.
Step Three: Put the Grid in Context While the benefits of democratic and participative management are universally accepted, there are times that call for more attention in one area than another is. This therefore means h team leader approach is not necessarily the best style to any situation.
The Blake and Mouton managerial grid seems to indicate that managers should aim for the team leadership style (9;9) combination, which is a goal-centred team approach that seeks to gain optimum results through participation, involvement, commitment and conflict-solving of everyone who can contribute. It is also important to note no one approach is best suite for all situations and mangers should carefully select the appropriate approach depending on the situation on the ground. It is also important to note that there further refinement to Grid theory in which additional managerial styles combining two or more of the basic styles are identified. For example, the paternalistic style (prescribe and guide). It was redefined as 9,1-1,9 management where the manager swings between two extremes. At the other extreme compliance reinforced by recognition and appreciation. Managers using this style praise and support, but discourage challenges to their thinking. And the opportunistic style (exploit and manipulate). Individuals using this style do not have a fixed location on the grid. They adopt whichever behaviour offers the greatest personal benefit. However, the Managerial Grid is criticised for basically neglecting the significance of the internal and external constraints, context, circumstances and situation.
- Blake, R. R. and Mouton, J. S. (1961). Group dynamics – Key to decision making, Houston: Gulf Publishing Co. Illuminations