7th November 2013
The University of Michigan studies conducted by Rensis Likert were mainly concerned with discovering the most effective forms of leadership. Studies were conducted in various industries and the data collected was analyzed. Rensis identified two main styles of supervision: employee-centered supervision and job-centered supervision. Job-centered supervision involved close supervision of subordinates so they could perform their task using only procedures that had been specified. Legitimate power, reward and coercion were the motivating factors on the behavior and performance of the workers. On the other hand, employee-centered leadership involved delegated decision-making and helped satisfy the needs of the employees by providing a supportive work surrounding. These behavioral methods were tested by Morse and Reimer in a study that involved five hundred clerical officers for a period of a year. The clerical employees were exposed to the same working conditions where the same kind of technology was used. In the firm where the research was being conducted, were four divisions that were organized in a similar manner. For a period of one year, job-centered supervision was used in two divisions and employee-centered supervisions in the other two. Output was measured regularly. Factors such as employee attitudes and other variables were measured before and after the experiments were done.
Although production increased equally in the four divisions, the employees under the employee-centered supervision reduced the work force and made various changes in procedure that increased the level of output. Turnover and attitude of these workers also improved. Rewards and promotions were integrated mostly in the job-centered supervision, which achieved short-term improvement. It however proved to be detrimental in the end. The employee-centered supervision was thus more effective. In another significant research study conducted at Ohio State University after the World War II, the two main factors being considered were initiating structure and consideration. Initiating structure involved a supervisor’s behavior of defining and organizing work groups and establishing proper channels of communication. The supervisor in this model was the determinant of whether an employee gets a job. Consideration refers to the work setting that is characterized by rapport and mutual trust between employees and supervisors. These two factors were important in describing leadership behavior in organizations. The researchers wished to discover the perceptions of employees and supervisors on leadership roles. Supervisors from production and non-production divisions were also compared. Proficiency and initiating structure had a positive relationship in the production divisions while a negative relationship existed between proficiency and consideration. The results were reversed in the non-production divisions. According to these findings, technical service supervisors score highly on initiating structure while supervisors of proficient public services score highly on consideration. These findings also showed that greater absenteeism, grievances and accidents were linked to low consideration and high initiating structure.
Jane Mourton and Robert Blake developed the Leadership Grid or Managerial Grid in the early 1960s. The Leadership Grid is based on two important behavioral dimensions: a concern for people and for production. The concern for people refers to the extent to which a leader considers the needs of his team players, their areas of development and interests when he or she decides the best way to perform a task. The second dimension, the concern for production, refers to the extent to which a leader considers concrete objectives, high productivity and overall efficiency of the organization when deciding the best way to accomplish a task. The Managerial grid shows five different styles of leadership based on the two dimensions (concern for people and production). They include the indifferent style, the country club style, the dictatorial style, the status-quo style and the sound style (Haberfeld 60). The indifferent style is also referred to as the impoverished style and is mainly characterized by low production and a low number of people. In this style, the manager is more concerned with avoiding taking responsibility for any mistakes rather than being concerned about the employees and production. This style usually results in disorganization and disharmony.
The country club style is characterized by a one-sided attention to the employees’ needs. The manager is concerned about the employees’ welfare more than they are concerned for production with the hope that this would increase production. The manager is afraid of jeopardizing his relationship with his or her workers. The organization as a result, has a friendly atmosphere but low productivity. In the dictatorial style, the manager is authoritative, has a high concern for production but a low concern for people. He sees the needs of employees as unimportant and has little regard for them. He pressures his employees to work by issuing punishments and rules to achieve the goals of the company. The employees are intolerant to this dictatorial style of leadership. The organization has high output in the short term but high labor turnover in the long term (Egner 30). The middle of the road or status-quo style has a medium number of workers and medium level of production. This is because the leader tries to achieve a balance between the competing goals of the firm and the workers’ needs. Consequently, this leader has to compromise on some things so that both production and workers needs are met. The sound style, also known as the team style, involves active contribution and commitment. The manager encourages teamwork among the employees. The leader makes employees feel like they are part of the company family and helps them understand the purpose of the organization. There is trust and respect between the leaders and the subordinates, which leads to high satisfaction and production.
The Leadership Grid has various advantages and disadvantages. The grid helps a person to determine their leadership style. Some leaders are people oriented while others are task oriented. Others may have both qualities. Neither type of leadership preference is wrong, nor does a specific kind of leadership suit all kinds of organizational settings. The Leadership Grid provides a good framework for a leader’s self-assessment and is useful in helping a leader understand which leadership styles are most effective. The grid also provides a basis of identifying conflict and managing it. Conflict is viewed as a factor that inhibits efficient production and creates disharmony in an organization. The leadership styles act as a tool for helping leaders and employees understand their roles and each other (Price 40). However, the dictatorial style of leadership overemphasizes on the ability of the leader to make decisions about the organization while in reality, may not be able to do so. When the organization’s decision-making is based exclusively on the findings of the employees, it may show lack of acceptance of the leader in duty. In the country-club style of leadership, the leader may be perceived as weak and may not be able to make hard decisions for the company in case of a crisis. The grid may not entirely explain the complexities of leadership but acts as a suitable tool for assessment of leadership skills.
Egner, Thomas. Behavioral Leadership – the Managerial Grid. München: GRIN Verlag GmbH, 2009. Print.
Haberfeld, M R. Police Leadership. Upper Saddle River, N.J: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2006. Print.
Price, Bill. “Coaching Young Leadership and Entrepreneurial Potential : Evolving and Emerging Leaders.” Management Today. 30.5 (2012): 19. Print.
Sadler, Philip. Leadership. London: Kogan Page Ltd, 2003. Print.
Schyns, Birgit, and James R. Meindl. Implicit Leadership Theories: Essays and Explorations. Greenwich, Conn: Information Age Pub, 2005. Print.
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