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Leadership Grid - a simple assessment tool for leaders

Leadership grid, previously known as managerial grid is a simple tool for leaders to assess their own style of working – what they do and how do they act and behave with their subordinates. Leadership grid was first given shape by Blake and Mouton in 1960s (then known as Managerial Grid) and has since been revised several times and extensively used for leadership assessment and development across the world. Leadership grid has its genesis in style approach to leadership study.

Leadership from the perspective of style approach
Leadership style has always fascinated researchers. Researchers studying style approach have broadly based their thinking on two types of leadership behaviour – task orientation or production orientation and relationship orientation or employee orientation. Task behaviour or production orientation is about leaders facilitate and reinforce achievement of a given task. This behaviour includes acts such as organizing, structuring and scheduling work, clarifying roles and responsibilities, attention to policy decisions, processes, product development and results. Relationship orientation or employee orientation is about leaders making subordinates feel comfortable with themselves and the job, building trust, commitment and respect in the teams, emphasizing human relations and providing good working conditions.

Blake & Mouton’s Leadership Grid
Leadership grid explains how leaders help organizations to achieve to achieve their objectives through the factors of concern for production or results (task behaviour) and concern for people (relationship behaviour). The grid consists of two axes – Y-axis representing concern for production while X-axis representing concern for people on a scale 9 points. 1 represents minimum concern and 9 the maximum.

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.

Middle of the road management (5,5)
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.

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.

Other type of leader exists who uses both (1,9) and (9,1) styles, which means that rewards are bestowed to people in return for loyalty and punishment for non compliance.

Leadership grid provides a framework for assessing leadership in a broad way. Leaders can use their scores on the grid to examine their behaviours in the two dimensions and can determine how they can change to improve their effectiveness required in the given situation.

For all the advantages of simplicity of the tool, the leadership grid is not with out any criticism. It is only a mirror for leadership qualities with respect to two dimensions; it does not identify any universal standards of leadership that is effective under various situations. Common sense says that the emphasis on tasks or relations is a function of situation in which leader operates. Also the leadership grid identifies dominant behaviours of but under pressure leaders may resort to what is called by experts as backup style. This means that leaders shift their style to gain maximum mileage. This practice of adapting different styles for personal gains is called opportunism.


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Leadership models - customizing leadership development

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