Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Style Approach

The Style Approach

The Style approach emphasizes the behavior of the leader. It focuses on what leaders do and how they act. Researchers determined that there are two types of behaviors. The central purpose is to explain how the leaders combine these two kinds of behavior to influence the subordinates to reach a goal.

1.     Task behavior: Facilitates goal accomplishment.

2.     Relationship behavior: Help subordinates feel comfortable with themselves, with other and with the situation.


·         There are many studies that have been conducted to investigate the style approach.

·         Some studies were conducted at Ohio State University in the 1940s based on Stogdill's findings.

·         Some studies were conducted at University of Michigan  in the 1940s to understand how leadership function in small groups.

·         Other research was conducted by Mouton and Blake in the early 1960s to understand how managers used Task/Relationship in organizational settings.


The Ohio State University studies

·         The analytics were conducted by having a number of subordinates complete questionnaires about their leaders and how many times they engaged in a certain type of behavior.

·         The original questionnaire (LBDQ) that was used had 1800 describing different behaviors.

·         A simplified form of 150 questions was given to hundreds of individuals in Military, educational and industrial settings. It showed that certain behaviors were typical of leaders.

·         Stogdill published a shorthand version in 1963 called LBDQ-VXII

·         Researchers found that that there are 2 types of behaviors for leaders:

·         Initiating structure: This is essentially task behavior such as organizing work, giving structure, defining roles, scheduling, etc.

·         Consideration structure: This is essentially relationship  behaviors such as building camaraderie, respect, trust, etc.

·         The studies showed that these 2 behaviors were distinct, independent, and on a different continuum. A Leader can be high or low on either and the degree with which a leader exhibited a certain behavior was not related to the other.

·         Other studies were conducted to determine which one makes a more effective form of leadership. In some contexts, high consideration was found effective, in other contexts, initiating structure was more effective. Other research showed that high on both was optimum.


The University of Michigan studies

·         Focused on impact of leaders for small groups.

·         Identified 2 types of leadership behaviors:

·         Employee orientation: Describes leaders behavior who emphasizes the human side, take an interest in individuals as human beings, individuality, and personal needs. This is similar to "consideration behavior"

·         Production Orientation: Refers to the technical aspect of the job. Similar to "Initiating Structure". Workers are means to get the job done.

·         Unlike the Ohio State research, this study conceptualized that the two behaviors were opposite ends of the same continuum. This suggested that leaders who were oriented towards one end were less oriented towards the other.

·         After additional studies, it was reconceptualized that the two behaviors were independent of each other similar to the Ohio State studies. (Kahn, 1956)

·         Additional studies were made during the 1950s and 60s trying to find a universal theory. The results were contradictory and unclear (Yulk, 1994).

·         Some of this research pointed out that leaders who are high task and high relationship was most effective. However, it was inconclusive.


Blake and Mouton Managerial/Leadership Grid

·         Appeared in 1960s and was revised many times in 1964, 78, 85, 91.

·         Used in consulting for organizational development throughout the world.

·         It has been used extensively in organizational training and development.

·         The Grid is trying to explain how managers/leaders in organizations are trying to reach their purposes through concern for people and concern for production.

·         Concern for production: Achievements and tasks.

·         Concern for people: how a leader attends to people, HR, trust, relationships, etc.



· Made up of 2 axis. Horizontal is leader's concern for results and vertical is leader's concern for people. It has a 9 point scale. 1 represents the minimum. It portrays 5 major leadership styles and two additional styles.

·         Authority-Compliance (9,1)

§  Heavy emphasis on task and job requirements.

§  Less emphasis on people except that people are tools to get the job done.

§  Subordinate communication is not emphasized except for the purpose of giving instructions. Results driven.

§  The leader in this category is seen as controlling, demanding, hard-driving, and over powering.

·         County Club Management (1,9)

§  Low concern for task accomplishment coupled with high concern for interpersonal relationships.

§  The leaders try to create positive climate by being agreeable, eager to help, confronting, and uncontroversial. They make sure people needs are met.

·         Impoverished Management (1,1)

§  Unconcerned with both task and relationships.

§  Acts uninvolved and withdrawn. Little contact with followers.

§  The leader maybe viewed as indifferent, noncommittal, resigned, and apathetic.

·         Middle of the road management (5,5)

§  Describes leaders who are compromisers.

§  Intermediate concern for both task and relationships.

§  A leader may be described as expedient, middle ground preference, soft pedals disagreement, and swallows convictions in the interest of progress.

·         Team Management (9,9)

§  Strong emphasis on both task and relationships.

§  Promotes high degree of participation and team work.

§  A leader in this category can be viewed as stimulating participation, acting determined gets issues into the open, makes priorities clear, follows through, behaves open mindedly, and enjoys working.

·         Paternalism/Maternalism

§  Leaders who use (9,1) and (1,9), but does NOT integrate the two. This is the benevolent dictator.

§  They act gracious for the purpose of goal accomplishment only.

§  They treat people as though they were disassociated with the task.

·         Opportunism

§  A leader who uses any combination of the basic five styles for the purpose of personal advancement.

§  This leader usually has a dominant grid style and a backup style that they refer to when under stress. Blake & Mouton (1985)


How does the style approach work?

It is not a refined theory that has organized set of prescriptions for effective leadership. It provides a framework for assessing effective leadership. It work by describing to leaders the major components of their behavior and NOT by telling them how to behave.

 ·         It reminds leaders that their actions towards others are both at the task and relationship levels.

·         In some situations task behavior is more appropriate, in others relationship is more suitable.

·         Similarly, some subordinates need leaders who provide a lot of direction. Others need a lot of support and nurturance.

 The  style  approach can be easily  applied  in  organizations.  It provides  a  mirror  for managers  that helps them understand, how they are performing as a manager. Leadership (Managerial) Grid has been widely used in practice in the past. Today it is commonly seen as an old-fashioned approach by management development professionals.


·         It broadened the scope of leadership research to include the behaviors of leaders and what they do in various situations

·         A wide range of studies on leadership style validates and gives credibility to the basic tenets of this approach

·         The style approach has ascertained that a leader’s style is composed of primarily two major types of behavior: task and relationship

·         The style approach is heuristic: it provides us a broad conceptual map that is worth using in our

·         attempts to understand the complexity of leadership.


·         The  research  on  styles  has  not  adequately  shown,  how  leaders´  styles  are  associated  with performance outcomes (Bryman 1992; Yukl 1994)

·         It  has  failed  to  find  a  universal  style  of  leadership  that  could  be  effective  in  almost  every situation

·         It  implies  that  the  most  effective  leadership  style  is  the  high  task  and  high  relationship  style

·         (Blake  and  McCanse  1991)  when  the  research  findings  provide  only  limited  support  for  a universal high-high style (Yukl 1994).

Leadership Instrument

Many instruments are available to assess the leader's style, but the two most commonly used ones are LBDQ (Stogdill, 1963) and leadership Grid (Blake & McCanse, 1991). This is designed to be completed by the observers. The leaders themselves complete the LOQ (Leader Opinion Questionnaire).  

Initially, as researchers analyzed the results of both surveys, they found that the initiating structure scores and consideration scores were relatively independent of one another. However, when they tested the questionnaires in further research, they discovered that only the LBDQ results seemed to be predictive of work group outcomes. Apparently, leaders expressed opinions on the LOQ that their subordinates did not observe or report on the LBDQ. As a result, only the LBDQ continued on as a tool for leadership style research.

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