Behavioral Theories of Leadership

Behavioral theory of leadership is based on the promise that effective leadership is the result of effective role behavior. Success in leadership depends more on what the leader does than on his traits. A leader uses technical, conceptual and human skills to influence the behavior of his subordinate. Leadership therefore, becomes a dynamic interaction between the leader and the led.

The behavioral theory is useful in so far it suggests the functions and activities of a leader.

Leaders are different than non-leaders because of some specific behavior. Behavioral theory of leadership emphasizes that strong leadership is the result of effective role behavior. Leadership is shown by a person's acts more than by his traits. Researchers exploring leadership role have come to the conclusion that to operate organization leaders effectively, need to perform two major functions: task oriented function and people oriented function. 

a) Task-Oriented Functions 

These functions relate to providing solution to the problems faced by the groups, in performing job and activities. In other words, leaders with this behavior always give emphasis in the job or task to be done. They always focus on the best utilization of resources to increase the productivity. They give less priority in the relationship with other people concerning in the organization. 

b) People-Oriented Functions 

These functions relate to actions of mediating disputes and ensuring that individuals feel valued by the group. Leaders with this behavior give more emphasis in the relationship with the people associated to job. They believe the quality of the people with the quality of the relationship with their subordinates. For this, leaders consult with the followers regularly and respect their feelings. 

An individual who is able to perform both roles successfully would be an effective leader. This theory says that leadership involves an interpersonal relationship between a leader and his subordinates. In this relationship, the behaviors of the leader towards the subordinates constitute the most critical element. Good behavior of leader raises the morale, builds up confidence and team spirit among the team members. On the other hand, lack of good behavior will discard him as a leader. In other words, an effective leader is one who performs those acts which help the group to achieve its objectives. 

Leadership theories based on behavioral theory are:

Ohio State Studies

In 1945, a group of researchers at Ohio State University began extensive investigations of leadership. They described consideration behavior is people oriented leadership dimension where leaders are sensitive to make people happy at work. They also try to provide pleasant work environment and are highly employee-centered. Similarly, the central focus of their work was to study in depth the work of a leader. Their effort uncovered many things concerning leadership behavior. The most publicized aspect of Ohio state leadership was the isolation of two dimensions of leadership behavior.
  1. Initiating structure: A high initiating structure score indicates that leaders structures their role those of subordinates towards the attainment of goals. They are actively involved in planning work activities, communicating pertinent information and scheduling work. 
  2. Consideration: A leaders who were high on the consideration dimension reflected that they had developed a work atmosphere of mutual trust, respect for subordinate’s ideas and consideration of subordinate’s feelings. Such leaders encouraged good superior subordinate rapport and two-way communication. A low consideration score indicates that leaders are more impersonal in their dealing with subordinates.

On the other hands leaders who focus on initiation of structure are more concerned with defining work and tasks, maintaining standards, meeting deadlines and defining in detail objectives, method of work and roles. 

This theory says that a high score on one dimension does not necessarily mean a low score on the other. This can be proved with the help of figure of leadership behavior.
Ohio State Studies

Thus, a leader can be in any direction. There is a positive relationship between consideration and regularity and low grievances by employees. It has negative relationship with performance. On the other hand there is a positive relationship between initiating structure and employee performance.

Limitations of Ohio State Studies

  • It is over simplified.
  • There is no significant relation between productivity and leaders' behavior.
  • Impact of environmental variables on leader's behavior has been ignored completely.
  • Belief that a combination of high consideration and high initiating structure is questioned.

University of Michigan Studies

A team of researchers at the University of Michigan undertook the research in the late 1940s. In these studies, they have tried to find leader's behavior. Researchers have undertaken a few studies among low and high performing groups in different organizations. Upon the completion of the research, they categorized leadership behaviors into two headings: employee-centered and production-centered. Whereas employee-centered leaders or supervisors are more employee welfare oriented, production-centered leader are more concerned with getting works done. According to these studies, employee centered leaders emphasize on human relations in organization. They believe that such behaviors are very productive at the workplace.

The study also showed that Employee-oriented Leaders (EOL) were associated with higher group productivity and higher job satisfaction on the other hand, Production-Oriented Leader (POL) tends to be associated with low group productivity and lower job satisfaction.

Where, we mean
Employee-oriented leaders (EOL) – One who emphasizes interpersonal relation.
Production-oriented leaders (POL) – One who emphasizes technical or task aspects of the job.

Limitations of Michigan Studies

  • This study ignored the personal characteristics of subordinates and other situational variables.
  • It failed to determine that leadership behavior is a cause or effect.
  • It says that either of the two leadership styles has to be adopted. The leadership style suggested by these studies is an extreme.

The Managerial Grid

(Leadership Grid or Hi-Hi Leadership)

The concept of managerial grid was created by R.R. Blake and Jane S. Mouton of USA. They emphasize that leadership style consists of facts of both task oriented and relation oriented behavior in varying degrees.

They have used two phrases: 
  1. Concern for production means the attitudes of the supervisors towards a variety of factor concerning production, such as product, procedures and processes, quality of staff service, workload, efficiency and quantity of production. 
  2. Concern for people includes degree of personal commitment towards goal achievement, maintaining the self-esteem of workers, responsibility and conductibility based on trust rather than on force and satisfying interpersonal relations.
Robert R. Blake and Jane Moutan proposed a managerial grid based on the styles of "concern for People" and "concern for production" which essentially represent the Ohio states dimensions of consideration and initiating structure or the Michigan dimensions of employees oriented and production oriented. This theory has following dimensions: 
Managerial Leadership Grid

1. Impoverished Style (1, 1) 

Leader at this point shows the lowest possible concern for both work and people. This is identified at (1, 1) in graph. Manager in the grid positions exert a minimum effort to get required work done and to sustain organization membership. They have little concern for either the human elements or the production level of the team. This kind of manager has a short life in responsible organizations. 

2. Country Club Style (1, 9) 

Leadership is highly concerned for people and very little concern for production. He establishes harmonious relationship among subordinates and provides a secure and pleasant work atmosphere. This is identified at (1, 9) in graph. 

This type of manager has a thoughtful attention to need so people for satisfying relationship, which leads to a comfortable friendly organization and work environment. They always have lots of social interaction and put service project as well as company sports team high on their list. 

3. Middle of the Road Style (5, 5) 

This is a pure compromise in which leaders try to achieve adequate overall results by using limited authority and balancing the needs of production with the needs of the people. This is identified at (5, 5) in graph. These kinds of managers constantly try to balance the necessity to get out work with maintaining moral of people at a satisfactory level, but no excellence. Organization production will be close to expectations but without exceeding them. 

4. Task Manager Style (9, 1) 

This type of leader is primarily concerned for the maximizing production. Subordinates are considered irrelevant. This is identified at (9, 1) in graph. 

5. Team Management Style (9, 9) 

This style is considered to most effective. The leaders achieve high production through the effective use of participation and involvement of people and their ideas. This is identified at (9, 9) in graph. This is the ideal manager identified by Blake and Mouton. This manager develops a relationship of trust and respect with employees and others. This is also certain interdependence though a common stake, which leads to an enhancement of the productivity. 

Blake and Mouton concluded that the first four styles are not much effective, while team management approach is the best style because it improves performances, lowers employee turnover and absenteeism and grants employee satisfaction. However, the team management style would not work in a crisis because there may have no time to be sensitive to morale issues sometimes. 

Moreover, the managerial grid encourages manager to devote more time on managing human resources, because they usually spend more time managing easier resources. In fact, human resources are quite complex to measure and to allocate; that's why manager should devote time to this more challenging resources. 

Like in any other theory, one can find both strengths and weakness in the Managerial Grid. 

Strengths of Managerial Grid 

  • Marked as a big shift on the focus of management work.
  • Several studies give credibility to this model.
  • Encourages managers to think about their own balance between two main areas of managerial concern: task orientation and people orientation. 
  • By following approach, project manager can focus more on the human side of the management equation, trying to identify ways to accept the behavior according to different resources and circumstances.
  • The theory of the Managerial Grid has been used for 35 years in training manager about working with people. 
  • It is also important because it can help project managers looking at managing projects and resources more effectively. 

Weaknesses of Managerial Grid 

  • The managerial Grid aims at identifying the most effective management style for the entire situations, which are not supported by evidence in real organizations.
  • No adequate relationship between behavior and performance outcomes (satisfaction, morale and productivity) has been documented. 
  • This approach implies that the most effective management style is team management style but this actually may not be the case in all the situations. It does not encourage manager to think and act flexibly according to the circumstances in which they are managing.

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