Leadership models help us to understand what makes leaders act the way they do. The ideal is not to lock yourself into a type of behavior discussed in the model, but to realize that every situation calls for a different approach or behavior to be taken. Two models will be discussed, Managerial Grid and the Four Framework Approach.
Two large studies by universities found that two types of leader behaviors were important concepts in leadership skills. The first was at Ohio State University that identified these two behaviors (Stogdill, 1974):
- Consideration - relationship behaviors, such as respect and trust.
- Initiating Structure - task behaviors, such as organizing, scheduling, and seeing that work is completed.
The second was at the University of Michigan that identified these two behaviors (Northouse, 2007):
- Employee Orientation - approaching employees with a strong human relations orientation.
- Production Orientation - stressing the technical and production aspect of the job.
The researchers from Michigan State thought of these two behaviors at opposite end of a single continuum. Thus, a leader could be strong with one of these two behaviors, but would be weaker in the opposite one.
The Ohio State studies viewed these two behaviors as distinct and independent. That is, a leader could be high or low in one or both. For example, in the U. S. Army one of the most important rules is to take care of your soldiers and complete the mission (task) — a leader should be good with both. Bad leaders can do neither or do one, but not the other.
Robert Blake and Jane Mouton (1985) placed the two behaviors on its own continuum and renamed them:
- Concern for people
- Concern for task or results
The grid looked similar to this:
The notion that just two dimensions can describe a managerial behavior has the attraction of simplicity. By asking a leader a series of questions would place her at a particular point on the two continuums, which in turn, would place the leader into one of four leadership types:
- Authoritarian — strong on tasks, weak on people skills
- Country Club — strong on people skills, weak on tasks
- Impoverished — weak on tasks, weak on people skills
- Team Leader — strong on tasks, strong on people skills
The goal to good leadership is to score at least a 6 on both task and people, which would place the leader in the Team Leader grid.
The four leadership types are discussed in more detail below.
Authoritarian Leader (high task, low relationship)
Leaders 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. Authoritarian leaders mostly 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), thus it is difficult for their subordinates to contribute or develop.
Team Leader (high task, high relationship)
These leaders lead by positive example and endeavor to foster a team environment so that all team members can reach their highest potential, both as team members and as people. They encourage the team to reach 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)
These leaders predominantly use 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)
These leaders use 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 within the group.
Lead Primarily from Team Leader, but be Situational for the Other Three
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.
In the Four Framework Approach, Bolman and Deal (1991) suggest that leaders display leadership behaviors in one of four types of frameworks: Structural, Human Resource, Political, or Symbolic, that can be presented in a quad:
This model suggests that leaders can be put into one of these four categories and there are times when one approach is appropriate and times when it would not be. That is, any style can be effective or ineffective, depending upon the situation. Relying on only one of these approaches would be inadequate, thus we should strive to be conscious of all four approaches, and not just rely on one or two. For example, during a major organization change, a Structural leadership style may be more effective than a Symbolic leadership style; during a period when strong growth is needed, the Symbolic approach may be better. We also need to understand ourselves as each of us tends to have a preferred approach. We need to be conscious of these at all times and be aware of the limitations of just favoring one approach.
The four leadership behaviors are discussed in more detail below.
Structural Leaders focus on structure, strategy, environment, implementation, experimentation, and adaptation.
In an effective leadership situation, the leader is a social architect whose leadership style is analysis and design. While in an ineffective leadership situation, the leader is a petty tyrant whose leadership style is details.
Human Resource Framework
Human Resource Leaders believe in people and communicate that belief; they are visible and accessible; they empower, increase participation, support, share information, and move decision making down into the organization.
In an effective leadership situation, the leader is a catalyst and servant whose leadership style is support, advocating, and empowerment. While in an ineffective leadership situation, the leader is a pushover, whose leadership style is abdication and fraud.
Political leaders clarify what they want and what they can get; assess the distribution of power and interests, build linkages to other stakeholders, use persuasion first, then use negotiation and coercion only if necessary.
In an effective leadership situation, the leader is an advocate, whose leadership style is coalition and building. While in an ineffective leadership situation, the leader is a hustler, whose leadership style is manipulation.
Symbolic leaders view organizations as a stage or theater to play certain roles and give impressions, use symbols to capture attention, frame experience by providing plausible interpretations of experiences, discover and communicate a vision.
In an effective leadership situation, the leader is a prophet, whose leadership style is inspiration. While in an ineffective leadership situation, the leader is a fanatic or fool, whose leadership style is smoke and mirrors.
Learning activity: Bolman and Deal's Four Framework Approach
Learning activity: Leadership Matrix Survey
Go to the next chapter, Leadership and Human Behavior
Return to the main Leadership Page
Blake, R.R., Mouton, J.S. (1985). The Managerial Grid III: The Key to Leadership Excellence. Houston: Gulf Publishing Co.
Bolman, L., Deal, T. (1991). Reframing Organizations. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Northouse, G. (2007). Leadership Theory and Practice. (3rd ed.) Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.
Stogdill, R. M. (1974). Handbook of Leadership: A Survey of Theory and Research. New York: Free Press.