Blake and Mouton Managerial Grid

  • The Blake and Mouton managerial grid is a framework that managers can use to identify their particular leadership style. It was developed by Robert Blake and Jane Mouton in 1964 after observing leader behavior at Exxon.
  • The pair observed that leaders in the company exhibited behavior that could be explained by two key dimensions: concern for production and concern for people.
  • The extent to which each leader exhibits behavior along the two dimensions yields five leadership styles: impoverished management, task management, middle of the road, country club, and team management. Most will agree that the team management style is the most desirable.
AspectExplanation
DefinitionThe Blake and Mouton Managerial Grid, also known as the Leadership Grid or Leadership Style Grid, is a managerial model developed by psychologists Robert R. Blake and Jane S. Mouton. This grid is used to assess and analyze leadership styles based on two key behavioral dimensions: concern for people (employee-centered behavior) and concern for production (task-centered behavior). The model depicts various leadership styles by plotting them on a grid, helping individuals and organizations understand their leadership approach and its effectiveness.
Key ConceptsConcern for People (Y-Axis): This dimension assesses the leader’s focus on the well-being, motivation, and satisfaction of their team members.
Concern for Production (X-Axis): This dimension evaluates the leader’s emphasis on productivity, efficiency, and achieving goals and tasks.
Five Leadership Styles: The Blake and Mouton Managerial Grid identifies five primary leadership styles based on different combinations of concern for people and concern for production. These styles are Authority-Compliance, Country Club Management, Impoverished Management, Team Management, and Middle-of-the-Road Management.
Leadership Styles1. Authority-Compliance (9,1): Leaders with a high concern for production and a low concern for people tend to focus primarily on task accomplishment, often at the expense of employee satisfaction. They have a top-down, authoritative leadership style.
2. Country Club Management (1,9): Leaders with a high concern for people and a low concern for production prioritize the well-being of their team members over productivity. They create a friendly and accommodating work environment but may struggle to meet organizational goals.
3. Impoverished Management (1,1): Leaders with low concern for both people and production demonstrate a passive and indifferent approach. They typically avoid taking significant leadership responsibilities, resulting in minimal impact.
4. Team Management (9,9): Leaders with high concern for both people and production adopt a balanced approach. They emphasize teamwork, collaboration, and productivity while ensuring the well-being of their team. This style is considered ideal for most situations.
5. Middle-of-the-Road Management (5,5): Leaders with moderate concern for both people and production strike a compromise between task accomplishment and employee satisfaction. They seek to maintain a balance without excelling in either dimension.
Application– Organizations and individuals use the Managerial Grid to assess their leadership style and identify areas for improvement.
– It helps in understanding the impact of leadership styles on team performance, motivation, and job satisfaction.
– The grid can guide leadership development efforts, encouraging leaders to adapt their style based on the situation and the needs of their team.
– It serves as a valuable tool for leadership training, team building, and conflict resolution.
Limitations– Critics argue that the Managerial Grid oversimplifies the complexities of leadership and may not fully capture the nuances of real-world leadership situations.
– It may not account for cultural and contextual variations in leadership styles and expectations.
– Some suggest that the model’s preference for the Team Management style as the ideal may not apply universally to all organizations and circumstances.
Impact– The Blake and Mouton Managerial Grid has been influential in the field of leadership and management development.
– It has contributed to discussions on the importance of balancing task-oriented and people-oriented leadership behaviors.
– While it has limitations, it remains a useful framework for self-assessment and leadership improvement.

Understanding the Blake and Mouton managerial grid

The Blake and Mouton managerial grid was created by academics Robert Blake and Jane Mouton in 1964. To find ways to increase managerial efficiency, the pair observed leaders at Exxon and discovered that each could be categorized according to two key dimensions:

  1. Concern for production (task completion), and
  2. Concern for people (support for individuals).

From varying degrees of these two behavioral dimensions arose five leadership styles that are represented in a grid. In the next section, we’ll discuss each of these styles in more detail.

Blake and Mouton’s five leadership styles

Imagine that each dimension is represented on a graph, with concern for production on the x-axis and concern for people on the y-axis. The graph is then split into four quadrants plus a “middle of the road” point in the center.

In total, this defines five leadership styles:

Impoverished management (low concern for people and production)

These are some of the most undesirable leaders who exert the least effort possible to preserve their job or maintain seniority. They tend to promote disharmony, disorganization, and dissatisfaction within the company.

Task management (low concern for people, high concern for production)

These leaders are ultra-focused on task completion with little regard for their subordinates. With a primary focus on productivity, this style results in employee burnout, a lack of motivation and coordination, and high staff turnover.

Middle of the road (medium concern for people and production)

Here, the leader attempts to take a more balanced approach to management. In many cases, however, their efforts may become diluted as they strive to focus on both dimensions simultaneously. This results in average organizational performance at best.

Country club (high concern for people, low concern for production)

Leaders that take a human-centric approach to management. Subordinate well-being may sometimes be given precedence over task completion, deadlines, and general productivity. The main challenge for these leaders is maintaining a professional, somewhat authoritative demeanor while not sacrificing the quality of their personal relationships.

Team management (high concern for people, high concern for production)

Team management is the “model” approach to leadership where employee concerns are respected and heard without impacting productivity. Here, collaborative and motivated teams have clearly defined objectives and are skilled at solving problems or managing conflict. Leadership is clear, direct, fair, and honest. 

Examples of the Blake and Mouton Managerial Grid:

  • Impoverished Management:
    • A manager who avoids taking responsibility and is primarily concerned with job security.
    • An executive who neglects both task completion and team members’ needs, leading to discontent and inefficiency.
  • Task Management:
    • A project manager solely focused on meeting strict project deadlines and achieving targets, often overlooking employee morale.
    • An assembly line supervisor emphasizing productivity but disregarding employee well-being, resulting in high turnover.
  • Middle of the Road:
    • A department head attempting to balance task accomplishment and team cohesion, often struggling to excel in either aspect.
    • An office manager aiming to maintain average performance by addressing both production and people’s concerns simultaneously.
  • Country Club:
    • A team leader who prioritizes building strong interpersonal relationships within the team but tends to neglect deadlines and quality control.
    • An organization’s HR manager who places significant emphasis on employee satisfaction and engagement but occasionally struggles to enforce company policies.
  • Team Management:
    • An effective project manager who values both task completion and team members’ well-being, resulting in a motivated and high-performing team.
    • A department head who fosters a collaborative and supportive work environment, leading to a cohesive team achieving outstanding results.

Key Highlights of the Blake and Mouton Managerial Grid:

  • Origin: The Blake and Mouton Managerial Grid was developed in 1964 by Robert Blake and Jane Mouton after observing leadership behaviors at Exxon. It aimed to enhance managerial efficiency.
  • Two Dimensions: The grid evaluates leadership styles based on two key dimensions: concern for production (task completion) and concern for people (support for individuals).
  • Five Leadership Styles: It categorizes leadership into five distinct styles: Impoverished Management, Task Management, Middle of the Road, Country Club, and Team Management, depending on where a leader falls on the concern for production and people axes.
  • Impoverished Management: This style represents leaders who exhibit low concern for both task completion and team members’ needs, often leading to dissatisfaction and disorganization.
  • Task Management: Task-oriented leaders prioritize productivity over employee well-being, potentially causing burnout and high turnover.
  • Middle of the Road: These leaders attempt to balance both dimensions but may struggle to excel in either, resulting in average organizational performance.
  • Country Club: Leaders in this style prioritize people’s concerns over task completion, aiming to maintain strong interpersonal relationships while potentially sacrificing productivity and authority.
  • Team Management: Considered the most desirable style, these leaders value both task completion and employee well-being, resulting in motivated, collaborative, and high-performing teams.

Read Next: Performance Appraisals ExamplesMBO360 Degree FeedbackHigh-Performance ManagementOKRBalanced Scorecard.

Connected Leadership Concepts And Frameworks

Leadership Styles

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Leadership styles encompass the behavioral qualities of a leader. These qualities are commonly used to direct, motivate, or manage groups of people. Some of the most recognized leadership styles include Autocratic, Democratic, or Laissez-Faire leadership styles.

Agile Leadership

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Agile leadership is the embodiment of agile manifesto principles by a manager or management team. Agile leadership impacts two important levels of a business. The structural level defines the roles, responsibilities, and key performance indicators. The behavioral level describes the actions leaders exhibit to others based on agile principles. 

Adaptive Leadership

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Adaptive leadership is a model used by leaders to help individuals adapt to complex or rapidly changing environments. Adaptive leadership is defined by three core components (precious or expendable, experimentation and smart risks, disciplined assessment). Growth occurs when an organization discards ineffective ways of operating. Then, active leaders implement new initiatives and monitor their impact.

Blue Ocean Leadership

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Authors and strategy experts Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne developed the idea of blue ocean leadership. In the same way that Kim and Mauborgne’s blue ocean strategy enables companies to create uncontested market space, blue ocean leadership allows companies to benefit from unrealized employee talent and potential.

Delegative Leadership

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Developed by business consultants Kenneth Blanchard and Paul Hersey in the 1960s, delegative leadership is a leadership style where authority figures empower subordinates to exercise autonomy. For this reason, it is also called laissez-faire leadership. In some cases, this type of leadership can lead to increases in work quality and decision-making. In a few other cases, this type of leadership needs to be balanced out to prevent a lack of direction and cohesiveness of the team.

Distributed Leadership

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Distributed leadership is based on the premise that leadership responsibilities and accountability are shared by those with the relevant skills or expertise so that the shared responsibility and accountability of multiple individuals within a workplace, bulds up as a fluid and emergent property (not controlled or held by one individual). Distributed leadership is based on eight hallmarks, or principles: shared responsibility, shared power, synergy, leadership capacity, organizational learning, equitable and ethical climate, democratic and investigative culture, and macro-community engagement.

Ethical Leadership

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Ethical leaders adhere to certain values and beliefs irrespective of whether they are in the home or office. In essence, ethical leaders are motivated and guided by the inherent dignity and rights of other people.

Transformational Leadership

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Transformational leadership is a style of leadership that motivates, encourages, and inspires employees to contribute to company growth. Leadership expert James McGregor Burns first described the concept of transformational leadership in a 1978 book entitled Leadership. Although Burns’ research was focused on political leaders, the term is also applicable for businesses and organizational psychology.

Leading by Example

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Those who lead by example let their actions (and not their words) exemplify acceptable forms of behavior or conduct. In a manager-subordinate context, the intention of leading by example is for employees to emulate this behavior or conduct themselves.

Leader vs. Boss

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A leader is someone within an organization who possesses the ability to influence and lead others by example. Leaders inspire, support, and encourage those beneath them and work continuously to achieve objectives. A boss is someone within an organization who gives direct orders to subordinates, tends to be autocratic, and prefers to be in control at all times.

Situational Leadership

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Situational leadership is based on situational leadership theory. Developed by authors Paul Hersey and Kenneth Blanchard in the late 1960s, the theory’s fundamental belief is that there is no single leadership style that is best for every situation. Situational leadership is based on the belief that no single leadership style is best. In other words, the best style depends on the situation at hand.

Succession Planning

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Succession planning is a process that involves the identification and development of future leaders across all levels within a company. In essence, succession planning is a way for businesses to prepare for the future. The process ensures that when a key employee decides to leave, the company has someone else in the pipeline to fill their position.

Fiedler’s Contingency Model

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Fielder’s contingency model argues no style of leadership is superior to the rest evaluated against three measures of situational control, including leader-member relations, task structure, and leader power level. In Fiedler’s contingency model, task-oriented leaders perform best in highly favorable and unfavorable circumstances. Relationship-oriented leaders perform best in situations that are moderately favorable but can improve their position by using superior interpersonal skills.

Management vs. Leadership

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Cultural Models

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In the context of an organization, cultural models are frameworks that define, shape, and influence corporate culture. Cultural models also provide some structure to a corporate culture that tends to be fluid and vulnerable to change. Once upon a time, most businesses utilized a hierarchical culture where various levels of management oversaw subordinates below them. Today, however, there exists a greater diversity in models as leaders realize the top-down approach is outdated in many industries and that success can be found elsewhere.

Action-Centered Leadership

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Action-centered leadership defines leadership in the context of three interlocking areas of responsibility and concern. This framework is used by leaders in the management of teams, groups, and organizations. Developed in the 1960s and first published in 1973, action-centered leadership was revolutionary for its time because it believed leaders could learn the skills they needed to manage others effectively. Adair believed that effective leadership was exemplified by three overlapping circles (responsibilities): achieve the task, build and maintain the team, and develop the individual.

High-Performance Coaching

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High-performance coaches work with individuals in personal and professional contexts to enable them to reach their full potential. While these sorts of coaches are commonly associated with sports, it should be noted that the act of coaching is a specific type of behavior that is also useful in business and leadership. 

Forms of Power

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When most people are asked to define power, they think about the power a leader possesses as a function of their responsibility for subordinates. Others may think that power comes from the title or position this individual holds. 

Tipping Point Leadership

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Tipping Point Leadership is a low-cost means of achieving a strategic shift in an organization by focusing on extremes. Here, the extremes may refer to small groups of people, acts, and activities that exert a disproportionate influence over business performance.

Vroom-Yetton Decision Model

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The Vroom-Yetton decision model is a decision-making process based on situational leadership. According to this model, there are five decision-making styles guides group-based decision-making according to the situation at hand and the level of involvement of subordinates: Autocratic Type 1 (AI), Autocratic Type 2 (AII), Consultative Type 1 (CI), Consultative Type 2 (CII), Group-based Type 2 (GII).

Likert’s Management Systems

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Likert’s management systems were developed by American social psychologist Rensis Likert. Likert’s management systems are a series of leadership theories based on the study of various organizational dynamics and characteristics. Likert proposed four systems of management, which can also be thought of as leadership styles: Exploitative authoritative, Benevolent authoritative, Consultative, Participative.

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