Style Approach Leadership

*The material for this class came from Leadership, Theory and Practice by Peter G. Northouse. Chapter 4, Style Approach.  Sage Publications, ISBN 0-7619-2566-X

Style Approach to Leadership.


The style approach emphasizes the behavior of the leader.  The style approach focuses exclusively on what leaders do and how they act.


Within this style of leadership there are two general kinds of behaviors, task behaviors and relationship behaviors.


Task behaviors focus on goal accomplishment. They help group members to achieve their objectives.  Product.  Relationship behaviors help subordinates feel comfortable wit themselves, with each other, and with the situation in which they find themselves.  Process.


The emphasis of the style leadership approach is how a leader will blend the two behaviors to enhance group success.


An effective leader will initiate structure, task behaviors, and then nurture, process, subordinates to realize his or her full potential.


In studying style approach, you must separate the two dominant behaviors.  One leader may be high or low in task behaviors and high or low in process behaviors.  One behavior does not necessarily work in relation to the other, for example it may be expected that if one is high the other is also high.


The examination of this leadership approach is to determine which mix of the two behaviors will bring out the best in the followers.



You can look at the style approach as a continuum, where the task behavior and process behavior are on a continuum. This suggests that leaders that are more focused on task, or product, are less focused on the process or the relationship they have with their followers.  This can be a continuum or in an inverted V, where task is one side of the V and process is the other side. At the top of the V is productivity.


Blake and Mouton’s Managerial/Leadership Grid.

The leadership grid was designed to explain how leaders help organizations to reach their purposes through two factors: concern for production and concern for people.  This parallels the task and process leadership behaviors.


Concern for production is concerned with achieving organizational tasks.  Attention to policy, new product development, process issues, to name a few.


Concern for people, or process, refers to how a leader attends to the people in the organization carrying out the work.  This includes concern for communication, trust, teamwork, good working conditions, and others.


The leadership grid has four quadrants.  Each of the axes is drawn as a nine-point scale where a score of 1 represents minimum concern and 9 represents maximum concern. By plotting the score for each axes, various leadership styles can be illustrated.  There are five major leadership styles.


Authority-Compliance.  (9,1) High concern for results and little or no concern for people.  They see employees as a means to produce results, and part of the product.  If they are not producing results, little or no time is spent with coaching or nurturing. They are let go and others brought in who can do better.


Country Club Management ((1,9)  High concern for people and relationships, and little if any concern for the results.  The leader here will want to minimize conflict and will be agreeable, eager to help and uncontroversial.


Impoverished management (1,1) This represents a leader who is concerned about neither. Goes through the motions of being a leader but really doesn’t care.  Indifferent and uncommitted.


Middle of the road Management (5,5) This describes the leaders who are compromisers.   Intermediate concern for results and the same for the people.  This type of leader prefers the middle ground and can get into trouble by trying to please too many people but also being pushed around.


Team Management (9,9)  Strong emphasis on both tasks and interpersonal relationships. This promotes a high degree of participation and teamwork.  Employees are involved and feel as though they are respected and an important part of the organization.


The benevolent dictator. This is the leader that will move from the country club mode to the authoritarian depending on which style will help create the best results. 


Opportunism.  The opportunistic leader will use any combination of the different styles for personal advancement.  Research has found that most people in this case have a dominant style and then a back up they are comfortable to use.  An opportunistic manager can manipulate subordinates with the appropriate leadership style so that they provide what the manager is seeking.


How it works:

The style approach will remind leaders that their actions towards others occur on a task level and a relationship level.  In some situations a leader must be more concerned with task, and in others process.  How a leader strikes the best balance is what make that person a good or bad leader.  Timing, understanding of other’s needs, knowledge, etc, are all aspects of a leader he or she has access to in formulating his or her leadership behaviors.  The style approach is allowing a leader to examine the objective and then subdivide his or her behaviors accordingly.  The style approach can provide a road map for a leader to chart a course depending on the objective.  The style approach may also help leaders solicit feedback from his or her followers on how they are doing.  They can ask very different questions about task and process, and see if they are behaving as they think they are.