An important part of management understands the role of leadership.
(a) Describe Blake and Mouton’s Managerial Grid.
(b) Discuss the relevance to management of Blake and Mouton’s grid in understanding leadership styles.
Every manager has to provide leadership in one way or another. Many have no real idea what constitutes leadership.
The professional accountant is frequently both the manager and leader. An understanding of leadership theory and practice is an important part of a manager’s education.
(a) Robert Blake and Jane Mouton in their Ohio State Leadership Studies, observed that there were two basic leadership dimensions apparent from their research; concern for the task and concern for people.
Blake and Mouton recorded the extreme scores as:
1, 1 – Management Impoverished low concern for production and low concern for people.
1, 9 – Country Club Management low concern for production and high concern for people.
9, 1 – Task Management high concern for production and low concern for people. 5, 5 – Middle of the Road Management reasonable concern for both dimensions.
9, 9 – Team Management High concern for production and high concern for people. (One may wish to draw the grid and describe these scores).
(b) Leadership is a conscious activity and is concerned with setting goals and inspiring people to provide commitment to achieve the organizations goals.
Katz and Kahn describe leadership as ‘the influential increment over and above mechanical compliance with the routine directives of the organization.’
Mullins says leadership ‘is a relationship through which one person influences the behavior or actions of others.’
There are different levels of leadership from the top down to small team leaders, but they will still share the same function – to get people to do the job. How they do that will depend on their attitudes, their perceptions of what motivates people and the prevailing culture of the organization.
John Kotter states that whatever style of leadership is practiced, the following activities should always be considered:
o the creation of a sense of direction
o the communication of the goals
o the motivating, energizing and inspiring of subordinates
Blake and Mouton recognized that it was possible for concern for the task to be independent of concern for people. It was therefore possible for a leader to be strong on one and weak on the other, strong on both, weak on both or any variation in between. They devised a series of questions, the answers to which enabled them to plot the two basic leadership dimensions. These two dimensions were placed as the axes on a grid structure now known as the Managerial Grid. A person who scores 7 on ‘concern for production’(the x axis) and 5 on ‘concern for people’(the y axis) is known as a 7,5 leader.
1, 1 This manager only makes the minimum effort in either area and will make the smallest possible effort required to get the job done.
1, 9 This manager is thoughtful and attentive to the needs of the people, which leads to a comfortable friendly organization atmosphere but very little ‘work’ is actually achieved.
9, 1 This manager is only concerned with production and arranges work in such a way that people interference is minimized.
5,5 This manager is able to balance the task in hand and motivate the people to achieve these tasks.
9,9 This manager integrates the two areas to foster working together and high production to produce true team leadership.
The grid assumes that leadership styles can be categorized into the two dimensions and that the results can be plotted on the grid. The position of team management is accepted as the best form of leadership. This may not be practical or indeed advisable. In many industries, concern for the task may be more important than concern for people, and vice versa and will always depend on the individual situation.
However, if the grid has relevance to leadership skills, it can provide the basis for training and for management development.
One way in which it could be useful is (for example) to support a 9, 1 leader with a 1,9 subordinate.)