What’s your first thought when talking to a new recruit? Is it a low down on the targets and KPIs that need to be met? Or do you like to spend more time to get to know them and what their strengths and weaknesses are (and how you can help develop them)? These questions form what the leadership grid is about.
We’ll explore how you can use it to determine your leadership preference. And where you sit on the ‘task versus people’ spectrum. Here’s the quick answer:
What is the Leadership Grid? The leadership grid is a simple way to identify your natural team management style.
It was created by Leadership Theorists Blake and Mouton, and allows you to diagnose how much concern you hold for getting the job done (task-centred) and how much you focus on the happiness of your team members (person-centred).
It’s based on 5 different leadership styles – Each identify the varying degrees of task and people focus:
- Impoverished Manager;
- Country Club Manager;
- Middle-of-the-road Manager;
- Team Manager;
- Task Compliance Manager.
Whilst no one leadership style suits every situation, it’s important to know what your natural style is, first. Once you do, you can develop your skills to get the best out of your team.
- Understanding The Leadership Grid
- Pinning Your Style to the Leadership Grid
- Take Action
Understanding The Leadership Grid
The relationship on how much emphasis you put on a task and your people, is similar to one of the main leadership theories out there. I’ve written an in-depth article on this, covering Adair’s leadership framework.
That said, let’s take a closer look at each management style in the leadership grid.
Country Club Management
This style involves spending most of the time building relationships and focusing on the happiness of each individual. The onus is to provide the best environment to allow the team to thrive and be productive.
If you’re this style, then your reasoning is that by treating people this way, will lead to self-motivation, and that people will naturally be fired up for work.
The truth is – you’ll often find low productivity, because they’re missing direction.
This style involves doing the bare minimum as a leader. There’s no real emphasis on task or people, and the team are not engaged or directed much.
There’s little concern for employee satisfaction and deadlines.
If you’re this type, there’s work to do. There’s a great chance that your number one aim is to preserve your job and seniority, but your team under you are more than likely unhappy, disorganised and frustrated.
This style involves compromising. The leader tries to spark a balance between achieving goals and ensuring the team is happy.
The problem is that the leader won’t push the boundaries and will often settle for the level of management that won’t cause a discomfort across the team.
If your natural style is in this range, then you’ll find that you’ll try to create task focus but only to the level that doesn’t result in kickbacks from your team.
The flip side to this is that they won’t be as challenged as they could be – resulting in lower levels of productivity and happiness than someone who leads their team to new achievements.
Task Compliance Management
This is often called dictatorial or the perish style. It’s all about output, and little regard to people. In fact, the natural leadership style means that people are seen as people to do a job. They get paid for it, and that’s as far as it goes.
For the long term, this focus is not constructive to employees. And will nearly always result in unhappy staff members, who are resentful to their leaders for being so uncaring.
If you fall within this segment of the leadership grid, then you typically believe that efficiency can only be achieved through proper structure, better working systems and the elimination of people wherever you get the opportunity.
Chances are, you’ll achieve efficiency, but will suffer from poor morale and high staff turnover in the long run.
At this level of management, the leader provides a high focus on both task and people. This means that team members are challenged and empowered to achieve goals and develop their capabilities through consistent growth.
Naturally, this is the one you want to be at.
And if you’re normal style fits here on the grid, then you naturally value empowerment, commitment, trust and respect. You lead by these values too, and the results in terms of happiness and productivity are far higher than any other leadership style on this grid.
Pinning Your Style to the Leadership Grid
If you want to find your natural style, then complete the simple questionnaire below.
Step 1: Score Yourself Against Each Question
Put an honest score of between 1 to 5, next to each question, based on how you generally compare as a leader:
- ______ I value my team’s feedback and encourage them to take part in making decisions and implementing their ideas
- ______ I feel that nothing is more important than getting the job done and completing the task or goal at hand
- ______ I encourage my employees to identify issues and implement creative solutions to overcome them
- ______ I closely monitor deadlines and targets, to ensure they’re completed on time
- ______ I love coaching people to work within the tasks and procedures we have
- ______ I enjoy challenging tasks. In fact the more challenging, the better it is
- ______ I ensure that every detail of a project or task is accounted for and well defined
- ______ It’s easy to manage multiple tasks at once
- ______ When something goes wrong, i don’t worry about jeopardising relationships when correcting issues
- ______ I have a knack for and enjoy explaining and discussing detailed projects and tasks with the team
- ______ I respect other people’s limits and needs
- ______ Counselling and coaching my team members is second nature to me
- ______ I love reading new books and learning new leadership skills, so i can apply them in my role
- ______ I love analysing problems and coming up with solutions
- ______ I find it easy to break down detailed projects and tasks into manageable chunks
- ______ I enjoy reading new books and learning new leadership concepts and putting them into place as procedures
- ______ I am organised and manage my time very effectively
- ______ Nothing is more important than building a great, self directed team
Step 2: Calculate Your Leadership Grid Scores
Add your scores to the table below. Complete each column, which is divided into Task and People focus.
Total Score: _________
(Now multiple this number by 0.2 – this will give you the first grid reference on our leadership grid)
Total Score: _________
(Now multiple this number by 0.2 – this will give you the second grid reference on our leadership grid)
Step 3: Map Your Leadership Grid References
Take your total score from the task focused section, and map it on the grid along the Task-focused spectrum on the grid, below.
Do the same for the People-focus score, mapping it against the People-focused axis.
Where both lines intersect is where your general leadership falls.
For instance, if i scored a 3 in team-focused, and 4 in people-focused, the intersection puts me bang in the impoverished area…
First, learn where you typically fall in the leadership grid – what’s your natural leadership or team management style?
Only when you understand where you are, you can improve your skills to address the weaknesses.
Here are some Tips to get you started:
- If you’re a Team Manager, that is great news. BE sure to always appear committed and genuinely caring. Don’t fall being frantic and exaggerated affection. Being genuine is critical. People see through false convictions;
- If you’re a Country Club Manager, You need to place greater emphasis on task completion and goals;
- If you’re a Middle-of-the-road Manager, then this is probably not the optimum way of working. Sometimes you’ll need to push your teams beyond their comfort zones and ensure that challenging targets are met;
- If you’re a Task Manager, your “get the job done” approach would be good in a crisis or high pressure scenario, but in the long term, it will be detriment to output and happiness. You need to focus on developing coaching skills and a real concern for your people, to balance things up;
- If you’re an impoverished Manager, you may well be in the wrong organisation, whereby your passion has gone… or you need to develop your leadership skills greater to move you out of this ineffective management style.