Blake and Mouton Managerial Grid: A Behavioural Approach towards Management and Leadership

What constitutes a good manager? Based on behavioural research studies on leadership and management (e.g. Ohio State Studies and Michigan Studies), two basic management behaviours can be identified as important: task-oriented behaviour and people-oriented behaviour. Even though these two factors are not the only important management behaviours, concern for both the task and the people must been shown at some reasonable level. Inspired by these findings, Blake and Mouton from the University of Texas proposed a two-dimensional Managerial Grid based on a manager’s concern for production (task-oriented) and concern for people (relationship-oriented). Each axis on the grid consists of a nine-point scale with 1 meaning a low concern and 9 a high concern. Depending on a manager’s score on each of the two axis, you can assign different types of management styles to managers. This article will elaborate on these different kind of styles and its implications.

Blake and Mouton Managerial Grid

Figure 1: Blake and Mouton Managerial Grid

Concern for Production (Task-Oriented)

A concern for production means that managers direct subordinates towards goals. Managers with this style typically give instructions, spend time planning, emphasize deadlines and provide explicit schedules of work acitivities. They simply want to get the job done.

Concern for People (Relationship-Oriented)

A concern for people means that managers are mindful of subordinates, respect their ideas and feelings, establish mutual trust. These managers are friendly, provide open communication, develop teamwork, and are oriented toward their subordinates’ welfare.

Impoverished Management (1,1)

Managers that score low on concern for production and low on concern for people are labelled as having an ‘Impoverished Management’ style or ‘Indifferent Management’ style. They exert minimum effort to get required work done and to maintain interpersonal relationships. The motives for this type of managerial behaviour can differ. The main concern for Impoverished Managers is often to not be held responsible for mistakes.

Country Club Management (1,9)

Managers that score low on concern for production and high on concern for people are considered to have a ‘Country Club Management’ style. Managers with this style pay a lot of attention to the security, well-being and harmony of subordinates. They firmly belief that being accomodating to the needs of subordinates will ultimately increase performance, as everybody will be happy and contented. As a consequence, the primary emphasis of Country Club managers is given to people rather than to work outputs. The resulting work atmosphere is therefore usually quite friendly and easy-going, but not very productive. Individual subordinates that are more task-focused might experience this management style as frustrating.

Authority-Compliance Management (9,1)

The dictorial ‘Authority-Compliance’ Management’ style (or ‘Produce-or-Perish’ style) implies that managers score high on concern for production and low on concern for people. These type of managers usually believe that subordinates’ needs are relatively unimportant. Efficiency in operations, however, should be the dominant orientation. In order to boost performance, managers try to make subordinates comply by using tangible rewards such as monetary bonuses. Managers may even use their coercive powers to punish subordinates if targets are not being met. This style is largely based on McGregor’s Theory X that states that employees generally have little ambition, avoid responsibilities, and are mostly extrinsically motivated.

Middle-of-the-Road Management (5,5)

Managers that score medium on concern for production and medium on concern for people have a ‘Middle-of-the-Road Management’ style. They attempt to balance between an organization’s performance targets and the needs of employees. This is essentially a compromising approach in which the manager tries to avoid conflict with subordinates whilst pushing for moderate production. The major downside of this approach is the danger that neither aspect (concern for production and concern for people) is delivered to satisfactorily levels.

Team Management (9,9)

If managers score high on concern for production and high on concern for people, they can be labelled as having a ‘Team Management’ style. This style is often considered to be the most effective and is recommended for managers because organization members work together to accomplish tasks and maintain good relationships. This approach relies heavily on making subordinates feel that they are constructive parts of the organization by encouraging teamwork and commitment, involving them in decision-making, and showing respect and mutual trust. This management style is largely in line with McGregor’s Theory Y that states that employees are intrinsically motivated, enjoy their job, and want to work to better themselves without a direct reward in return. According to multiple subsequent research from Blake and Mouton, Team Management forms the best basis for exercising sound leadership.

More management styles

Apart from these 5 well-known management styles, more management styles can be crafted with the aid of Blake and Mouton’s Managerial Grid. An additional approach refers to a manager who swings back and forth between the 1,9 Country Club Management style and the 9,1 Authority-Compliance Management style. A manager with this ‘Paternalism-Maternalism Management‘ style is seen as a kind of caring dictator who, as long as you do as you are instructed, will treat you well. Failure to comply, however, is likely to lead to punishment or exclusion from the group. Moreover, there is the ‘Opportunistic Management‘ style, which can be described as ‘exploit and manipulate’. These managers do not have a fixed location on the grid and use different management styles depending on their interpretation of what is likely to result in the maximum personal benefit. This way of behaving comes close to management approaches from Situational Leadership Theory and Contingency Theory such as Hersey and Blanchard’s Situational Leadership Model and Fiedler’s Contingency Model. These research streams assume that leaders or managers should adapt their style based on the circumstances (i.e. type of follower and/or external factors).

Blake and Mouton Managerial Grid Model

Figure 2: Management Styles in Blake and Mouton Managerial Grid

Blake and Mouton Managerial Grid In Sum

Blake and Mouton have played an important role within the behavioural research stream of management and leadership literature. By plotting the variables ‘concern for production’ and ‘concern for people’ on a grid, the model helps managers to think critically of their own management/leadership style and make adjustments in their behaviour if necessary. Ultimately, Blake and Mouton suggested that the ‘Team Management’ style is the most effective of all, taking both a concern for production and a concern for people fully into consideration.

Further Reading:

  • Blake, R. and Mouton, J. (1964). The Managerial Grid: The Key to Leadership Excellence. Houston: Gulf Publishing Co.

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