They believed that a high concern for production necessarily meant low concern for people, and high consideration for workers meant tolerance for low production. However, the leadership grid model emphasized that both concerns should be integrated to achieve the objectives of the organization. It assumes that people and production factors are complementary to each other, rather than mutually exclusive.
According to Rao and Narayana, the concern for production is not limited to things only, and concern for people cannot be confined to narrow considerations of interpersonal warmth and friendliness.
Production can be measured in terms of creative ideas of people that turn into useful products, processes or procedures, efficiency of workers and quality of staff and other auxiliary services. Similarly, concern for people includes concern for the degree of personal commitment of complementing the work requirement assigned to each person, accountability based upon trust rather than fear of force, sense of job security and friendship with co-workers leading to a healthy working climate.
The leadership grid is built on two axis, one representing the “people” and the other representing the “task”. Both the horizontal as well as vertical axis are calibrated on a scale from 1 to 9 where 1 represents the least involvement and 9 represents the most involvement so that coordinates(1,1) would indicate minimum standards for worker involvement and task design and coordinates (9,9) would indicate maximum dedication of the workers and highly structured operations. Such an involvement would reflect upon the managerial orientation towards tasks and towards workers who are expected to perform such tasks.
Blake and Mouton have identified five such coordinates that reflect various styles of leader behaviour. The leadership grid figure and these styles are shown as follow:
The leadership grid diagram as shown above can be interpreted as follows:
i. Co-ordinates (1, 1,) “Impoverished Management”. The manager makes minimum efforts to get the required work accomplished. Minimum standards of performance and minimum worker dedication.
ii. Coordinates (9, 1). “Authority Compliance”. Excellent work design. Efficiency in operations. Well established procedures. Orderly performance. Human element interference to a minimum degree.
iii. Coordinates (1, 9). “Country Club Management”. Thoughtful attention to the needs of people. Personal and meaningful relationship with workers. Friendly atmosphere and high morale. Loosely structured work design. Primary concern for people, production secondary.
iv. Coordinates (9, 9). “Team Management”. Ultimate in managerial efficiency. Work accomplishment from thoroughly committed people. Trustworthy and respectful atmosphere. Highly organized task performances. Interdependence of relationships through a “common stake” in organizational purpose.
v. Coordinates (5, 5). “Middle-of-the-Road Management”. This leadership style is concerned with balancing the necessity to get the work done while maintaining worker morale at a satisfactory level. Moderate concern for both production and people.
The leadership grid provides a reasonable indication of the health of the organizations as well as the ability of the managers. The model assumes that there is one best or most effective style of management, which is the style indicated by coordinates (9, 9).
It is the objective of all management to move as close to this style as possible, because the managers who emphasize both high concern for people as well as productivity are presumed to be more successful. Accordingly, managers should be carefully selected and trained so that they are able to coordinate people and tasks for optimum benefit.
The leadership grid model, however, has become controversial on the basis of lack of empirical evidence supporting whether the team management style is the best management style. Even Blake and Mouton offer conceptual rather than empirical arguments as to why team management style should be the best management style.
One study with an extremely large sample size (sixteen thousand) found that only about 13 percent of the totals were high-achiever executives who cared about both people and profits and low achievers were obsessed only with their own security.
High achievers viewed their subordinates optimistically while low achievers displayed a basic distrust in the ability of their subordinates. High achievers were listeners while low achievers avoided communication relying primarily on policy manuals.