Behavioral Leadership

Research into leader behaviors was studied by McGregor (1960) who argued that the assumptions made by leaders about employees in organizations drives their leadership behaviors and the subsequent behaviors of employees. Theory X leaders hold a fairly negative view of human nature, believing that the average employee dislikes work and will avoid it if possible. Leaders holding this view, believe that coercion and control is necessary to ensure that people work productively. However, employees treated this way will resent the coercion and control and so behave in a way that confirms the leaders view of them. It thus becomes a self-fulfilling hypothesis of employee behavior. Theory Y leaders, on the other hand, believe that the average employee wants to work, wants to do a good job and given the right leadership support will seek responsibility and autonomy. Such leaders will seek to enhance their employees’ capacity to exercise a high level of imagination, ingenuity, and creativity in the solution of organizational problems. McGregor claims leaders holding different assumptions will demonstrate different approaches to leadership: Theory X leaders preferring an autocratic style and Theory Y leaders preferring a participative style.

The concept of leadership styles was further developed by Blake and Mouton (1964) who developed a Managerial Grid which focuses on task (production) and employee (people) orientations of leaders, as well as combinations between the two extremes. Their grid has concern for production on the horizontal axis and concern for people on the vertical axis and plots five basic management/leadership styles. Blake and Mouton propose that ‘Team Management’—a high concern for both employees and production—is the most effective type of leadership behavior.

Likert (1967) developed the ‘four systems’ typology of leadership style (exploitative authoritative, consultative leadership, benevolent authoritative, and participative leadership). This typology extends the dichotomy between task and relationship orientation to consider the degree of employee involvement in decision-making and the nature of communication with the leader. Likert creates a distinction between autocratic (task-oriented) and democratic (relationship-oriented) leadership.

However, as with traits theory, critics argue that there is insufficient evidence that behavioral leadership theories are any better predictors of leadership success than trait theories and that they fail to take account of situational factors which means that ‘most researchers today conclude

What Are Leadership and Organizational Change;' 5 that no one leadership style is right for every manager under all circumstances (Bolden, 2004, p.10).

 
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