Managerial Grid (Blake and Mouton)

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Contributed by: F.M. van Eersel

Blake and Mouton. Managerial GridWhat is the Managerial Grid Model? Description

The Managerial Grid model by Robert Blake and Jane Mouton is a behavioral leadership model. On the grid, concern for production is represented on a one to nine scale on the horizontal axis (x-axis). Concern for people is represented on a one to nine scale on the vertical axis (y-axis).

Note that according to Blake and Mouton there is also a third axis: Motivation, measured from negative (driven by fear) to positive (driven by desire).

The concept distinguishes 5 different leadership styles, based on the concern for people and the concern for production:

  1. Impoverished style (Low Production / Low People)
    • Description: A delegate-and-disappear management style. A basically lazy approach.
    • Characteristics: The manager shows a low concern for both people and production. He (or she) avoids to get into trouble. His main concern is not to be held responsible for any mistakes.
    • Results in: Disorganization, dissatisfaction and disharmony due to lack of effective leadership.
  2. Country Club style (Low Production / High People)
    • Description: One-sided, thoughtful attention to the needs of employees.
    • Characteristics: The relationship-oriented manager has a high concern for people, but a low concern for production. He pays much attention to the security and comfort of the employees. He hopes that this will increase performance. He is 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.
    • Results in: A usually friendly atmosphere, but not necessarily very productive.
  3. Produce or Perish style (High Production / Low People)
    • Description: Authoritarian or compliance leader.
    • Characteristics: The task-oriented manager is autocratic, has a high concern for production, and a low concern for people. He finds employee needs unimportant and simply a means to an end. He provides his employees with money and expects performance back. There is little or no allowance for cooperation or collaboration. He pressures his  employees through rules and punishments to achieve the company goals. Heavily task-oriented people are very strong on schedules. They are intolerant of what they see as dissent (it may just be someone's creativity). This hard style is based on Theory X of Douglas McGregor. It is often applied by companies on the edge of real or perceived failure, such as in Crisis Management.

    • Results in: Whilst high output is achievable in the short term, much will be lost through an inevitable high labor turnover.

  4. Middle-of-the-road style (Medium Production / Medium People).
    • Description: The manager tries to balance between the competing goals of the company and the needs of the workers.
    • Characteristics: The manager gives some concern to both people and production, hoping to achieve acceptable performance. He believes this is the most anyone can do.
    • Results in: Compromises in which neither the production nor the people needs are fully met.
  5. Team style (High Production / High People).
    1. Description: The ultimate. The manager pays high concern to both people and production. Motivation is high.
    2. Characteristics: This soft style is based on the propositions of Theory Y of Douglas McGregor. The manager encourages teamwork and commitment among employees. This style emphasizes making employees feel part of the company-family, and involving them in understanding organizational purpose and determining production needs.
    3. Results in: Team environment based on trust and respect, which leads to high satisfaction and motivation and, as a result, high production.

Also called: Leadership Grid.

Origin of the Managerial Grid. History

While acting as advisors to Exxon, Robert Blake and Jane Mouton concluded that there are many behaviors and motivations in the middle of the X and Y extremes of Douglas McGregor. Blake and Mouton found that a management behavior model with three axes (concern for production, concern for people, motivation) was a more accurate representation of reality.

Usage of the Managerial Grid. Applications

Analyzing or Coaching a manager, in particular regarding relationships skills such as: dealing with critique, initiative, decision-making, conflict resolution, advocacy (expressing opinions, ideas), inquiry (information seeking) and resilience (reacting to problems or failures).

Strengths of the Managerial Grid. Benefits

  • Using the Grid model makes the various leadership styles measurable to a certain extent and allows more than two competing options (X versus Y). Accurate measurement is important, because of the tendency by managers for self-deception and exaggeration. 80% of all people rate themselves as 9.9! Once this is discussed using the grid, this number is reduced to 20%.
  • Using a model makes it easier to openly discuss behavior and improvement actions.

Limitations of the Managerial Grid. Disadvantages

Book: Blake, R. & Mouton, J. (1964) - The Managerial Grid: The Key to Leadership Excellence -

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