Blake and Mouton Managerial Grid: What It Is and How To Use It

By Indeed Editorial Team

September 8, 2021

Finding your management style can be beneficial to the operation of business processes, as well as the overall growth and development of your organization. Identifying your leadership style can allow you to implement plans and strategies to improve your skill and professional development. Likewise, improving areas of leadership skills can help you approach your employees and team members with efficiency and realistic objectives for projects, tasks and overall business goals. In this article, you will learn the background of the Blake and Mouton Managerial Grid, as well as how to apply it to develop your leadership skills.

What is the Blake and Mouton Managerial Grid?

Robert R. Blake and Jane Mouton developed the Managerial Grid model in 1964, at a time when many breakthroughs in leadership studies were being made. Through their work at Exxon, the pair discovered and studied ways of improving management efficiency. After spending time observing the company’s leaders, they concluded that leadership styles could be represented on a grid and that most managers fell into five main leadership styles.

Some managers considered production their top priority, while others focused more on employee wellbeing. Using this gathered data, Blake and Mouton published the first edition of The Managerial Grid to serve as a tool for determining leadership styles.

Read more: 6 Leadership Theories for Career Growth

The Managerial Grid model set-up

This tool can help managers assess whether they put more emphasis on everybody completing their tasks in due time or the overall happiness and sense of belonging of their employees.

The grid model puts ‘result-oriented’ managerial styles on the horizontal axis and ‘people-focused’ styles on the vertical axis. Depending on the results after you rate and evaluate your leadership style within the grid, you may discover your style fits as one of five main types.

These predetermined styles can also include two more leadership possibilities in addition to the previous five. However, they are not officially in the grid model but can be important identifiers nonetheless.

  • Paternalistic management: A managerial style that is a combination of dictatorial and country club management (more on both later) and represents a leader that is both encouraging to others and very rigid with their own decisions.

  • Opportunistic management: This style has no place on the grid because it changes from one style to another depending on the situation. As the name suggests, opportunistic managers are only concerned for their own wellbeing and will change their approaches from one situation to another, depending on what suits them. In other words, opportunistic managers have neither the task nor the employees as their first priorities are solely concerned with what they can gain from each situation.

How to use the Blake and Mouton Managerial Grid

The following steps can help guide you through using the Blake and Mouton Managerial Grid to determine your leadership style.

1. Identify your leadership style

The first step in utilizing the Blake and Mouton grid is to determine your leadership style. Start by thinking about past leadership roles. If, in your management role, you made the needs and concerns of the team a top priority, you may score nine or close to nine on the vertical axis. If you can identify as being task-oriented (prioritizing outcomes, results and task completion), you will rate yourself as nine or close to nine on the horizontal axis. Connecting the scores from both horizontal and vertical axes will result in identifying your management style. Depending on the combination of your score, you can fall into one of five core leadership styles.

2. Identify areas for improvement

If you see that you score higher in one area and lower in another, this may suggest that there are some areas that you can implement an improvement plan. For instance, if you scored high on the axis for task-oriented management and scored low on the people-oriented axis, you might consider implementing strategies that can help you develop your leadership style to balance both task-oriented and people-oriented approaches. You might develop a team-building exercise or plan to schedule ten minutes a day to check in with your staff to ensure they are contented and productive.

3. Determine the context

While it can be desirable to score high regarding both people- and task-oriented management approaches, there can be situations when a task-oriented managerial style may be more effective than a team approach. For example, if your team completes hazardous tasks (like running heavy equipment or working with corrosive substances) you might consider managing your team with a more authoritative approach to ensure that strict safety protocols are adhered to.

If, on the other hand, you have taken the place of a past domineering or controlling manager, you might approach the staff in a ‘country club’ leadership style to help boost morale or motivation before transitioning to more task-oriented approaches.

Related: Management Skills: Definition and Examples

The 5 managerial styles

The Blake and Mouton Managerial Grid highlights five distinct leadership styles that can result from a combination of people- and task-oriented approaches.

  • People-oriented: People-oriented managers may typically prioritize the needs of their employees and may commonly invest in their staff’s long term personal and professional development. This type of leadership personality may process all incoming tasks with these concerns as the most important. For instance, a manager may be more concerned that their team has enough time to finish each assigned task or may extend a deadline to lessen stress on their employees if they identify as a people-oriented leader.

  • Task-oriented: Conversely, a task-oriented manager may tend to focus more on completing objectives as efficiently as possible and maintaining a very high level of productivity. Leaders who score high on concern for results commonly prioritize finding the most efficient ways of getting the job done, as well as limiting the emphasis on employee morale or input.

The five leadership styles that are highlighted within the Blake and Mouton Managerial Grid are impoverished, ‘produce or perish’, accommodating, ‘country club’ and team management and will result from a combination of task-oriented and people-oriented characteristics.

Impoverished management style

Impoverished managers score low on both the concern for people axis and the concern for results axis. This is the least effective management style of them all, with the manager showing little concern for designing systems and policies for completing tasks efficiently and on time, as well as for the wellbeing and overall motivation levels of their employees. This can lead to an inefficient and unfocused way of managing a department or an organization, and the lack of emphasis on productivity and employee well-being can result in both low results and unhappy personnel in the workplace.

If you find yourself identifying with this style, you may want to consider a leadership plan of improvement. For instance, you might consider your work priorities, how you currently perform in your role as well as ways in which you feel you have been successful as a manager. This score may also mean the importance of reassessing your satisfaction in your position or finding ways to develop skills or getting motivated at work. Additionally, consider how to get your team involved in your improvement plan by implementing team-building strategies, taking surveys or encouraging input on improvement needs in your department or business.

Read more: How to Become a Successful Team Leader

Produce-or-perish management style

This leadership style shows a low score on concern for people but will oftentimes show a high score in their interest in getting the job done. These leaders may continuously seek to gain more control and to exert their domination over others. Their perception may be one that focuses solely on the importance of wages and employment itself as a means for motivating team members to complete their daily tasks. They may also view fear of being fired as a strong motivator for everyone on the team.

Ultimately, this managerial approach can have little to no chance of getting results, as in most roles, a professional that can add value to the organization may eventually leave for better employment conditions.

If you find you have scored high in the task-oriented section of the grid, consider utilizing strategies to get your staff more involved. For instance, you may have a short team meeting to discuss a new project and its scope or schedule a day for team-building activities. These types of strategies can help you improve your people-oriented approaches while continuing to prioritize work output and task completion

Middle-of-the-road management style

Oftentimes, this style can appear to be the best approach to leading a team, as it highlights a manager’s mid-level scores within the managerial grid. While the overall approach may appear effective, the middle of the road strategy may not always produce results. This is because this style can sometimes be indifferent, where a manager or supervisor may not be overly concerned with productivity or their staff’s well-being and motivation, resulting in ineffective planning, production and employee growth and development.

If your score has fallen somewhere within this leadership style, consider evaluating your work priorities. Think about what is most important to you, and you may also make a list of ways you commonly engage with your employees. Then, you can use this list to start planning on how you will improve your approach to productivity as well as team engagement.

Country club management style

This style highlights higher scores toward the concern for people axis but low on the delivering results axis. The name stems from a concern for employee needs and happiness, where the secondary priorities may then include task completion, timeliness and overall productivity. The drawback to this approach, however, is not in prioritizing your team’s needs and well-being, but rather in replacing professional and authoritative practices and policies with an overly personal work environment. This can ultimately have the potential to result in employees failing to follow through on commitments, complete tasks or projects and even a lack of respect for their managers who identify as a ‘country club’ style.

If you score results in identifying with this style, it may mean you genuinely care about your employees, which is an important quality in a manager. However, you might also consider improving how you direct and assign projects and tasks to your team, as well as how you hold your staff accountable for work that is completed. You might consider setting small weekly or bi-weekly objectives that provide an evaluation on productivity and the work your team is doing.

Related: 15 Leadership Qualities That Make a Great Leader

Team management style

The final type of leadership is one where the manager puts a high emphasis on both their employees and on completing projects and tasks. Blake and Mouton concluded that this is can be the most effective leadership style on the grid, as it generally involves a manager who cares deeply about the company and productivity, but also prioritizes team motivation, skill-building and the overall professional growth and development of their employees. This leadership style commonly illustrates a manager’s ability to motivate and inspire, lead by example and hold themselves accountable just as they would their staff.

If you have identified team management as your leadership style, consider offering your mentorship or professional counsel to other teammates who perform as team leaders, supervisors and managers. You may be able to help train new managerial hires, as well as model your organization’s policies and practices to ensure a knowledgeable and reliable team.

Offering your guidance and modeling your own accountability for your professional growth can help motivate your employees and encourage their development in your organization, as well as focusing on the importance of task and project priorities.

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