Style Approaches to Understanding Leadership

As behavioral approaches to the study of leadership evolved over time, many different styles of leadership began to emerge. The Managerial Grid, which was originally developed in the 1950s, was revised years later by Blake and Mouton to provide a framework for examining these different types of leadership styles (Weinbach, 2008). The primary purpose of the Managerial Grid was to explain how leaders help organizations reach their purposes through two factors: 1) concern for production and 2) concern for people (Northouse, 2007).

Concern for production refers to how a leader is concerned with achieving organizational tasks. This includes activities such as:
  • Attention to policy decisions
  • Process issues
  • New product development (or organizational accomplishments)
  • Workload (Northouse, 2007)

Concern for people refers to how a leader attends to the people in the organization who are trying to achieve its goals. These concerns include:
  • Building organizational commitment and trust
  • Promoting the personal worth of staff
  • Providing good work conditions
  • Promoting good social relations (Northouse, 2007)

external image picture_blake_mouton_managerial_grid.gif
(Retrieved from:
*While managers usually fall somewhere in between these extremes, these different styles represent the traits and behavior managers tend to lean towards.

Authoritarian Leader or Produce/Perish (high task, low relationship)
People who get this rating are very much task oriented and are hard on their workers (autocratic). There is little or no allowance for cooperation or collaboration. Heavily task oriented people display these characteristics: they are very strong on schedules; they expect people to do what they are told without question or debate; when something goes wrong they tend to focus on who is to blame rather than concentrate on exactly what is wrong and how to prevent it; they are intolerant of what they see as dissent (it may just be someone's creativity), so it is difficult for their subordinates to contribute or develop.
Team Leader (high task, high relationship)
This type of person leads by positive example and endeavors to foster a team environment in which all team members can reach their highest potential, both as team members and as people. They encourage the team to reach team goals as effectively as possible, while also working tirelessly to strengthen the bonds among the various members. They normally form and lead some of the most productive teams.
Country Club Leader (low task, high relationship)
This person uses predominantly reward power to maintain discipline and to encourage the team to accomplish its goals. Conversely, they are almost incapable of employing the more punitive coercive and legitimate powers. This inability results from fear that using such powers could jeopardize relationships with the other team members.
Impoverished Leader (low task, low relationship)
A leader who uses a "delegate and disappear" management style. Since they are not committed to either task accomplishment or maintenance; they essentially allow their team to do whatever it wishes and prefer to detach themselves from the team process by allowing the team to suffer from a series of power struggles.
The most desirable place for a leader to be along the two axes at most times would be a 9 on task and a 9 on people -- the Team Leader. However, do not entirely dismiss the other three. Certain situations might call for one of the other three to be used at times. For example, by playing the Impoverished Leader, you allow your team to gain self-reliance. Be an Authoritarian Leader to instill a sense of discipline in an unmotivated worker. By carefully studying the situation and the forces affecting it, you will know at what points along the axes you need to be in order to achieve the desired result.
Middle of the Road (moderate task, moderate relationship)
This style describes leaders who are compromisers who place a moderate amount of concern on production and interpersonal relationships. They find a balance between emphasizing work requirements and taking people into account. Managers with this type of style are often described as one who is expedient, prefers the middle ground, soft-pedals disagreement, and swallows conviction in the interest of “progress” (Northouse, 2007).

Don Clark (May 2008) Concepts of Leadership Retrieved from


This quiz will you give you the idea of what leadership style you possess.

Leadership Quiz

To understand management style as it relates to leadership one must also look at the other parts involved in leadership. In order to do this one might look at the manager's superior's style. These individuals who may be made up of Board of Directors, Executive Directors, and so fourth all possess " definite expectations that must be understood and addressed" (Weinbach, 2003, p. 249). Just as a manager's superior may influence leadership so does the organization itself. Aspects of the organization such as mission, goals, and objectives can pain the picture of what is expected of a leader in the particular organization (Weinbach 2003). Another approach is understanding how one's peers and other managers at the " same organizational level" influence leadership (Weinbach, 2003). Keeping other staff members and peers " out of the loop" of one's leadership can heavily result in a damaged morale.

Another component is that of subordinates. Subordinates are important in understanding leadership as they have much influence. Subordinates have their own styles and espectations as followers which can ultimately affect the way leaders lead. According to Weinbach (2003) " successful leaders have good followers ; unsuccessful ones do not" (p. 249). Followers can follow in a variety of ways that meet the style of the leader. They can follow the style of a leader who is more authoritarian which means doing what their leader tells them to do without questions. Or followers can adapt to a more participatory management style where their questions and thoughts are valued and praised. From these styles expectations are formulated by follows of what constitutes " good followership"
( Weinbach, 2003, p. 249).

Followers also play into the role of leadership by influencing how well leaders do their job. For example they can influence what gets done and how well it gets done. It is important to note that while good leadership style influences good followership and productivity of staff , followership style of the subordinates can also influence the leadership style (Weinbach, 2003, p.250).

In addition to followers influencing leadership styles there is the factor that followers can also influence the work environment as a whole which can either be beneficial or harmful to the climate of the organization. Followers also contribute to the organization's dedication to serving clients. This is because they can often times contribute a valuable perspective that leaders or managers may not be aware of due to their direct interaction with client's. This has implications in understanding one's role as a leader and their style because leaders are responsible for making sure that goals and objectives of the organization are met. Subordinates are often much closer to client's and their demands, needs, concerns, and hardships. They may be able to identify these factors and present them to the the leader so that they can address this on the organizational level as a whole. This "shapes the work environment by providing advice and information" to leaders which ultimately results in leaders being able to understand their role as a leader and what must be done to meet these individual's needs. Weinbach ( 2003) states that followers can help leaders to "stay in touch with in the trenches" which ultimately shapes their approaches to leading an organization (p. 250).