The Blake and Mouton Leadership Grid Explained: What Is It?

What if someone told you that your leadership and management style was wrong? Would you agree or disagree? The chances are that you are hardwired to believe you are doing the best for your company, your employees, and your bottom line.

The truth is, though, that there may be an alternative method or approach that you could take to maximize your profits, your employee’s performance and the overall satisfaction of everyone involved.

The Blake and Mouton leadership grid shows you five different types of management styles, following two behavioral situations or dimensions. This article will review the leadership grid, explain the facets and show you how to apply what you are currently doing to plot yourself on the grid.

The Behavioral Dimensions

Behavioral Dimensions

There are two dimensions, or areas of concern, when it comes to your business: The people involved and the results you get. Let’s take a deeper look at each of these dimensions.

Concern for People

A good manager knows that his team is only as strong as his weakest employee. Building a good foundation of hard-working individuals with different skill sets is crucial to success. Furthering that line, though, just because someone has a skill set you need in your business model, doesn’t mean they will produce for you.

As a leader, you need to ensure that your people are tasked with projects they will enjoy and that maximize their potential.

Of course, the other option is to have a high turn over rate because you want to be more concerned with the overall results, and not worrying so much about how you get there.

Concern for Results

When the bottom line, be it profits, task accomplishment, or just getting the job done is the main priority; you are more concerned with results than with people. Not that there is anything wrong with that. Every business needs to have results.

When a manager tasks her people with objectives that are concrete, the concern isn’t if the ability to enjoy the task and maximize personnel experience is met. The main goal is to have the objective completed as near correctly as possible in a reasonable amount of time.

As a leader, you will need to ensure that all the daily, weekly, monthly and annual objectives are met. Focusing more on this aspect may lower your ability to focus on the people. If you have a strong team that knows what needs to be done and when this may not be an issue.

The mixture of concern for people and concern for results leads to five areas of leadership styles that are outlined in the Blake and Mouton leadership grid.

Five Areas of Management as Outlined by the Leadership Grid

jengga game

Depending on how you rate yourself and your business model approach to completing tasks you will fall into one of the five management styles outlined by the leadership grid. These are:

  • Impoverished
  • Produce or Perish
  • Middle of the Road
  • Country Club
  • Team

It is important to note that there isn’t one style that is better than the other when it comes to the exact needs of a business. Each model has its own advantages (except for impoverished) that may be suited for a particular style of leadership. These factors must be accounted for when plotting your leadership style on the grid.

Impoverished

Each axis of the grid is assigned a numerical value of 1 through 9. One is the least productive, or least accountable for that particular axis. 9 is the highest achievable instance, meaning that the care level, thought process and accountability are all factored in and given the highest marks.

Impoverished leadership takes zero accountability. There is little care for the people involved and even less for results. This leadership style is headed for certain doom. The mindset of this type of leader is basically absent.

Tasks are not handed out or assigned with any care if they are even assigned at all. No formal thought process is established to ensure the objectives are met or that morale is kept up. These leadership styles will almost always fail.

Tasks will not be met, accomplished and rarely even finished if they get started at all. The people involved will be overwhelmed to the point of no longer caring at all and production will virtually stop.

If anything is accomplished under this type of leadership, it will be by sheer dumb luck.

Produce or Perish

team meeting

The produce or perish style is a good way to start a business. These leaders tend to see the result, the big picture and find a way to get there, no matter what.

That “what” though tends to cost the company it’s employees. Because the focus is solely on the results, the people come second (sometimes even third, which, in a race of two is unacceptable).

These leaders tend to push and push their workers to get the job done, and the objectives met. They get results, which is good for the bottom line. However, there is a quick plateau followed by a sharp drop off in productivity. 

Because of this cause and effect style, there will be a high turn over in employees and production will ultimately halt. If fast results are key, then this type of leadership is crucial. However, if you want to maintain such results, it won’t work for the long haul.

Middle of the Road

Middle of the road leaders tend to care about their people to the point of ensuring they show up for work and get the daily job done with little or no forceful reminders.

They also tend to forget the big picture and focus on the smaller, daily or weekly tasks. Employees under this type of leadership are more long-term employees as they are getting by when it comes to productivity and morale.

They aren’t being pushed for greatness, though and the results will be as mediocre as the people getting the results.

Most businesses can survive with this type of leadership, though there won’t be much room for breakout success. Management tends to see the employees as two types: either they don’t want to be there and nothing can be done to change their mind, or that the employees can push themselves and nothing needs to be done to help or hinder that effort.

The end result is the same, though. Employees who just show up and results that just happen.

Country Club

photo of a team

The country club style of management focuses on the people so much that the results are secondary if they even exist. As the name implies, it works well for a country club. People pay to be a part of the business, and those membership fees support everything the business needs.

While the people are high performers, maybe even the best in their particular field, the production is still secondary. Very few businesses can run without high productivity. The few that can, though will benefit from the country club leadership.

If you want to achieve higher productivity, meet objectives, expand practice and see major results, this leadership style isn’t for you.

Team

The Team leadership focuses first on the people. Ensuring that every aspect of their task is met, and then pushing them to do even more without burning them out.

High morale is often the objective, and the people enjoy being at work, doing their job and take great pride in their results.

Once this is achieved, the production and results will speak for themselves. There isn’t a plateau of productivity from the employees as they are constantly being pushed harder and harder, within their own recognizable limits. They learn to rely on each other’s strengths and weaknesses and get help where they may struggle. 

Everyone, including the manager, is hands-on in producing the desired results and then reaching even higher.

How to Apply Yourself to the Grid

a man working in front of a computer

What type of leader are you? The key to success is being brutally honest. When we evaluate ourselves, we tend to be more optimistic than we should be. No one likes to fail, but sometimes what we do just doesn’t work.

If you can’t be brutally honest with yourself, you should be evaluated by someone who can give you the honesty you need.

When you apply your leadership from several tasks you were in charge of, plot them on the grid. Were you more focused on the results or ensuring the people were happy?

Did you settle? In what areas? What can you do next time to make the numbers even higher on both axes? 

Evaluation, execution, and performance are difficult to diagnose. Take your time, realize where you are weak and where you are strong. Use your strengths to aid your weaknesses and don’t be afraid to admit you need help.

Work your way up the grid until you have high output from people that want to be there, working for you.

Author: Jon Stahl

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