Behavioural Leadership

‘Behavioural Ideals’ leadership models concentrate on what researchers believe are the most effective behaviours as a leader. The notable model in this category is Blake and Mouton’s Managerial Grid.

The ‘behavioural ideals’ approach argues that if a leader is to be effective he, or she, should practise a certain ideal behavioural style.

Behaviour ideals is very competently summarised by Robert Blake and Jane Mouten’s ‘Managerial Grid’ that identifies five types of leadership behaviour with two primary concerns; the people and the task ahead.

Country Club Style

Leader has a high concern for the team, but a low concern for the task. There is usually an overly friendly relationship between the leader and the group. This style is not good for producing results and is common among leaders who are afraid of upsetting people and/or who fear rejection.

Impoverished Style

Here the leader has both a low concern for people and a low concern for the task. This style is usually adopted by ‘leaders’ who care mainly about themselves and are afraid of making mistakes.

Middle-of-the-Road Style

There is equally some concern for the task and some concern for people, but we might also say there is not enough of either. Leaders try to address the needs of the task and their followers to some extent, but do so without conviction, skill or insight.

Produce or Perish Style

Here we see a high focus on the task with little or no concern for people. Leaders using this style seek to dominate. A leader like this will commonly take the view that staff should be grateful to be employed. Motivation is often attempted through threats, such as being sacked. Sadly, it can be effective in the short term but the approach is not sustainable.

Team Style

This style combines a high concern for group involvement and a well organised and communicated focus on the task. Leaders adopt a collaborative teamwork approach with a concern for team development and achieving the organisation’s goals. This style normally requires that followers are suitably skilled for a high level of involvement. The style is difficult to use, and may be inadvisable, when leading inexperienced people.

Other Perspectives

Blake and Mouton’s grid theory and suggested ideal ‘Team Style’ behaviours are very reasonable in an ‘ideal world’. However, as James Scouller and others have noted, the model has two practical issues: it does not naturally or fully address the need to adapt behaviours according to the situation or the psychological make-up of a leader.

Scouller states that “Adopting the Team Style of leadership will not always be appropriate – for example at times of major crisis when the task is necessarily more important than people’s/worker’s interests, or when leading very inexperienced people towards a tough aim and tight deadline, who under such circumstances normally require very direct and firm instruction.

“Also, concerning the leaders own personality make-up, not every leader can or will adopt the ideal Team Style, even after training, because of inner psychological blocks or basic personality.” All that said, Blake and Mouton’s work is still significant.

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

Scouller, J. (2011). The Three Levels of Leadership: How to Develop Your Leadership Presence, Knowhow and Skill. Cirencester: Management Books 2000