Are You a Theory X or a Theory Y Leader?
The theory X and Y leadership model was developed 50 years ago and has been validated by modern research. The model was proposed by social psychologist Douglas McGregor in his classic book “The Human Side of Enterprise.” McGregor’s model suggests that there are two fundamental approaches to managing people:
- Many managers tend towards Theory X, and generally get poor results — especially over the longer term.
- Enlightened managers mostly use Theory Y, which produces better performance and results, and allows people to grow and develop.
Let’s look at these two competing leadership philosophies:
This is the authoritative and traditional style of management. Theory X managers assume that people are lazy, don’t want to work and it is the job of the manager to force or coerce them to work. People are viewed as a “cost” that must be monitored and controlled. It is based on three basic assumptions:
- The average person inherently dislikes work and will avoid it if at all possible.
- Most people have to be coerced, controlled, directed and threatened to get them to work towards organizational goals.
- The average person prefers to be directed, avoids responsibility, isn’t ambitious and simply seeks security.
In practice Theory X managers tend to be autocratic and controlling, and feel it is up to them to ride people and make them do their work (i.e., managers are “policemen”). These managers tend to micro-manage, be extremely task oriented and not put much emphasis on building positive relationships. Little emphasis is shown towards developing a positive work environment, and recognition and appreciation would be rare. People working for these managers tend to be motivated by fear and feel unappreciated.
Contrasted with Theory X, Theory Y is a more dignified and enlightened management style. To find out the characteristics of Theory Y management and how to successfully apply it, please fill out the short registration form below to aid our research efforts. This data is helping us better serve the market with relevant content. Once you register, you will not be asked for this information next time we publish a special report as long as you use the same browser.
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Wes Friesen manages multiple departments for an electrical utility based in the Northwest. His teams have earned numerous awards including NAPL Gold awards. Wes also teaches university classes and is a featured speaker at a variety of national conferences. Wes has just written a book called Your Team Can Soar! which contains 42 valuable lessons to help you lead and develop high performing teams. Books can be ordered from his personal website (wesfriesen.com) or via the following link: http://www.xulonpress.com/bookstore/bookdetail.php?PB_ISBN=9781498460866 Contact Wes at firstname.lastname@example.org.