The managerial grid model (1964), developed by Robert Blake and Jane Mouton, is a behavioral leadership model. The model is an excellent way to map out different leadership styles, and an excellent way to evaluate the leadership performed by leaders and managers.
This model identifies five different leadership styles based on the concern for people and the concern for production. It is important to remember that none of the concerns are right or wrong, and the concerns are ideally balanced to the respective situational context of leadership. The model is graphically illustrated at the end of the article.
Concern for People relates to the degree to which a leader considers needs of employees and team members before deciding how to accomplish a task. A high degree of concern could be coupled to a more democratic leadership style, whereas a low concern for people could be coupled to an autocratic leadership style.
Concern for Production relates to the degree to which a leader emphasizes production effectiveness and efficiency when deciding how best to accomplish tasks.
By charting the position in the grid it is possible to diagnose which leadership style is being performed, and to evaluate the appropriateness of the style of leadership.
The five different leadership styles found in the managerial grid are presented below:
Country Club Leadership - High Concern for People/Low Concern for Production
A country club leader is mostly concerned about the needs and feelings of his/her employees or team members. This leader probably supposes that members of the organization will work hard if the feel happy and secure. However, production may suffer under this leadership style, and the effectiveness of the organization may suffer due to a lack of direct supervision and control.
Produce or Perish Leadership - High Concern for Production/Low Concern for People
A produce or perish leader is very concerned about production effectiveness, and probably sees workers as means to achieve great results. This leader also sees workforce needs as secondary to the need of a productive and efficient workplace. He/She might have very strict and autocratic work rules, and perhaps views punishment as the best motivational force.
Impoverished Leadership - Low Concern for Production/ Low Concern for People
This leader is very ineffective. The leader has neither a high regard for creating efficient systems or rules to structure work processes, nor for creating a motivated or satisfied work environment. The result of this leadership style could be a highly disorganized workplace with low satisfaction and motivation.
Middle of the Road Leadership - Medium Concern for Production/Medium Concern for People
This style tries to balance the two competing concerns. It tries to compromise different needs, and may seem as a great solution. However, when compromising, leaders risk that neither the concern for people nor the concern for production is fully met. This may lead to average performance, where top results may not be achieved. Workers may end up moderately motivated and satisfied, and production may only become moderately effective.
Team Leadership - High Concern for Production/High Concern for People
According to the Blake Mouton model, this is the best and most effective leadership style. These leaders both stress the importance of workforce needs and production needs. This leader manages to engulf workers into the importance of production efficiency, and manages to motivate employees. This creates an atmosphere of team spirit, where each team member is highly motivated and satisfied, which commits the worker to work hard and increase productivity.
Use of the managerial grid
Firstly, leaders should plot their own style into the managerial grid, and diagnose which leadership style they are conducting. Secondly, leaders can evaluate their leadership style, and assess if they could improve their leadership style in some way. Thirdly, leaders should put their leadership style into the respective situational context, and try to balance their leadership style to the needs found in the organization. The team leadership style may not be best in all situations, and some situations, like e.g. and economic crisis, might call for an entirely different style like e.g. a produce or perish leadership style.
Leaders must therefore analyze which leadership style is called for, and afterwards analyze whether or not they conduct the most appropriate style. This analysis is therefore based on the different contingencies facing an organization, and leaders may use the knowledge from Contingency Theory or the PESTEL Framework to analyze which leadership styles are most appropriate for the viability of the organization.