The leadership grid is a behavioral leadership model developed in the 1950s by Robert Blake and Jane Mouton. Previously known as the Management Grid, the Leadership Grid is based on two behavioral dimensions: concern for production, which is plotted on the X axis on a scale of one to nine points; and people’s concern, which is plotted on a similar scale along the Y axis.
The model identified five styles of leadership by their relative position on the grid:
- Depleted (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 the leadership grid
The leadership grid shows that over-emphasizing one area while neglecting the other stifles productivity. The model suggests that the team leadership style, which shows a high level of concern for both production and people, can increase employee productivity.
Some of the perceived benefits of using the leadership grid include its ability to measure performance and allow for a self-analysis of one’s leadership style. In addition, it continues to be used by organizations and businesses.
However, there are some limitations to the leadership grid. For example, it may offer an erroneous self-assessment, in part because of 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 in which the leader or manager must operate, or the internal and external variables that may play a role.
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 in progress. The efforts and concerns of these leaders are more focused on self-preservation within the organization and not allowing any question to come back to them.
The “Produce or Perish” leadership style focuses solely on production with a drastic disregard for the needs of team workers. The leader who follows this path may see high attrition rates within the team due to their disciplinary control, coupled with their neglect of the needs of the team.
The Middle of the Road leadership approach strikes a balance between taking into account the needs of the team and the production needs of the organization, but neither aspect is adequately addressed in the process. This can lead to average and below average results in team performance and satisfaction.
The Country Club leadership style means that the manager sees the needs of the team first and foremost. The leader’s assumption is that happiness within the team will naturally lead to improved productivity; however, there is no guarantee that productivity will not decline.
The “Team” approach is considered to be the most effective form of leadership by the creators of this model. The leader demonstrates a commitment to empowering staff as well as increasing productivity. By encouraging workers to work in teams, the belief is that they will be motivated to do more.