DEFINITION of 'Leadership Grid'

The Leadership Grid is a model of behavioral leadership developed in the 1950s by Robert Blake and Jane Mouton. Previously known as the Managerial Grid, the Leadership Grid is based on two behavioral dimensions: concern for production, which is plotted on the X-axis on a scale from one to nine points; and concern for people, which is plotted on a similar scale along the Y-axis.

The model identified five leadership styles by their relative positions on the grid:

  • Impoverished (concern for production = 1; concern for people = 1)
  • Produce or Perish (9, 1)
  • Middle of the Road (5, 5)
  • Country Club (1, 9)
  • Team (9, 9)

BREAKING DOWN 'Leadership Grid'

The Leadership Grid demonstrates that placing an undue emphasis on one area, while overlooking the other, stifles productivity. The model proposes that the team leadership style, which displays a high degree of concern for both production and people, may boost employee productivity.

Some of the perceived benefits of using the Leadership Grid include its ability to measure one’s performance and that it allows for self-analysis of one’s leadership style. Furthermore, it continues to see usage among organizations and businesses.

There are some perceived limitations to the Leadership Grid, however. For example, it may offer a flawed self-assessment, due in part to its use of minimal empirical data to support the effectiveness of the grid. The model also does not take into account a variety of factors, such as the work environment wherein the leader or manager must function, nor does it account for variables internal and external that may play a factor.

Types of Behaviors Found on the Leadership Grid

The "Impoverished" or "Indifferent" leadership style in the model refers to the style that shows little regard for the team or the overall production that is underway. Such leaders' efforts and concerns are more centered on self-preservation within the organization and not allowing any matters to blow back on them.

The "Produce or Perish" leadership style focuses solely on production with a Draconian disregard for the needs of the workers on the team. The leader who follows this path may see high attrition rates among the team due to their disciplinary control coupled with their neglect of the team’s needs.

The "Middle of the Road" leadership approach offers a balance of speaking to the team’s needs as well as the organization’s needs for production, but neither aspect is adequately fulfilled in the process. This may lead to average and below average results in team performance and satisfaction. 

The "Country Club" leadership style means manager sees to the team’s needs first and foremost over everything else. The assumption by the leader is that happiness within the team will naturally lead to improved productivity; however, there is no guarantee that productivity will not falter.

The "Team" approach is considered to be the most effective form of leadership by the creators of this model. The leader shows a commitment to staff empowerment as well as toward increasing productivity. By encouraging the workers to operate as a team, the belief is they will be motivated to accomplish more.

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