Similar to the way we can gain some critical insight into our personality types using Myers-Briggs or our work styles using DISC, the Blake Mouton Managerial Grid was designed to help us understand our leadership styles.
The basic idea is that managers’ level of concern for people is measured against their concern for production.
On the grid, there are 5 leadership styles outlined. There are also 2 more styles that were added to the model.
The Indifferent (Impoverished) – This leadership style features low production and low concern for people. This means that not much work is getting done and the workers are not provided with an environment that is motivating or rewarding.
The Accommodating (Country Club Style) – This leadership style features high concern for people and low concern for production. While the work environment may be enjoyable, production suffers as a result of the lack of leadership.
The Dictatorial (Produce or Perish) – This leadership style features high concern for production and low concern for people. In this work environment, the needs of the employees are always secondary to the bottom line. These managers are autocratic, with strict work rules, and they prefer to use punishment to control their employees.
The Status Quo (Middle-of-the-Road) – This leadership style features medium production and medium concern for people. Leaders who use this style are often satisfied with average production and might even believe this is the most that can be expected.
The Sound (Team Style) – This type of leadership style features high production and high concern for people. Team style managers ensure employees understand and contribute to the direction of the company. This is an environment where people’s needs are met and production goals are reached.
Not on the grid:
The Opportunistic Style: This type of leadership style features exploitation and manipulation. This style does not have a position on the grid because this type of manager adopts behaviours that net the greatest personal benefit.
The Paternalistic Style: This type of leadership style features praise and support, but discourages challenges to their own thinking. This style does not have a fixed place on the grid as well.
How to Apply the Grid in 3 Easy Steps
The value of the Blake Mouton Managerial Grid is that it can help you become cognizant of your leadership style so that you can place high emphasis on both people and production. You may find that you use different approaches based on the situation, and there are certainly circumstances when the Team Style leadership approach wouldn’t be as effective as others.
Step One: Identify Your Leadership Style – There is probably a leadership style on the grid that you can best relate to, but you may employ different approaches based on the circumstance. Recall some of these situations, and then use your best judgment to mark their positions on the grid.
Step Two: Identify Areas of Improvement – If you recognize that you score high in one concern and low in another, you now know that you have an imbalanced approach and can begin to make improvements. You can now look for ways to hit on all cylinders and develop the skills necessary to be a more team oriented manager.
Step 3: Identify the Context – While you may strive to score high in concern for both people and production, there are times and situations when a different leadership style is more effective than the team approach. For instance, you may have employees doing dangerous jobs that require an authoritative approach emphasizing a rigid adherence to protocol. Or if you’re taking over for a domineering manager and inherit a deflated, overtaxed staff, you might want to take a Country Club approach to build the morale up before transitioning to the team oriented approach.
In reality, there is no one best style you should always use. Just like you have to use different psychological approaches with different personalities, certain styles work better in certain situations. The grid is helpful because it helps you to be mindful of both people and production when you adapt a style to a situation, and it also give you insight into your own general style and how you can make improvements.
For more in depth reading, you can read the article at MindTools, Blake Mouton Managerial Grid: Balancing Task- and People-Oriented Leadership.