The key concept behind leadership is the ability to influence other people so that they are willing to strive towards a common achievement for the group.  The interesting thing about this ability is that it is not limited to the managers of an organization.  Every person in any given situation can exhibit the ability to influence other people.  Think of a child having a fit in a public place to get his way.

 There have been countless studies on the effectiveness of organizational leadership done over the last half century.  One general conclusion that has emerged is that about 60 percent of workers will work well without any leadership from a manager.  This has many variables that motivate the worker, such as: maturity, self-motivation, social pressure, need for a job, or presence of authority.  These same studies also conclude that an additional 40 percent of worker potential can be added with effective leadership. 

It is important to keep in mind, leadership is dealing with individuals; individual needs, individual motivations.  What works with one may not work for anyone else, or what works for many may not work for the few.  It is the ability to influence people to work towards a common goal. 


There are two dimensions for management leadership.  One is concern for production; the other is concern for the people.  These dimensions were identified in the mid-twentieth century.  Studies done during this time also show the two primary functions of leadership are “Concern for Production” and “Concern for People”.    These two functions could not be further apart.  They are independent of each other, but not opposites.           

Concern for Production           

This leader is concerned with productivity; with getting the job done.  They work with a plan, communicate expectations, emphasize deadlines, maintain standards, workers work at capacity and criticize poor work.           

Concern for People 

This leader is concerned about people.  They desire to be supportive of their staff, do little things to make it pleasant to be a team member, listen to staff, look out for the general welfare of staff, and are friendly and approachable. 

An evaluation of these two dimensions shows that the organization and upper management value leaders who can initiate structure and get the job done, while workers value leaders with consideration for workers.  The ideal leader has to balance both dimensions carefully and fall into the upper right quadrant.  Research has shown that the leader who can manage to stay within that upper right quadrant, known as the Team Manager, is the most effective leader.  With this grid, we can also identify three other distinct leaders: the Theory L (Lackadaisical) Leader, the Theory X (Autocratic) Leader, the Theory Y (Benevolent) Leader, and the Theory Z (Team) Leader.  

 The Theory L (Lackadaisical) Leader 

The management philosophy is essentially one of noninterference.  This leader is stuck between uncooperative workers and unsupportive upper management.  They are information transmitters.  They convey information from upper management to the workers.  Top managers are the planners, and little input is given about the actual department operations.

The top managers are the meat and potatoes of the operation, and little of “L” leader is lost in middle management.  They have very little control over who is hired or fired or in training.  Their basic function is to make sure that the workers are informed of top management decisions.

They do very little to motivate the workers.  They see workers as motivated or not.  They believe workers should be able to motivate themselves to do what is expected of them.  There is very little they can do, because that is someone else’s department.

There is very little room for this leader to lead and show an unmotivated worker, better ways to improve production. 

The Theory X (Autocratic) Leader           

The management philosophy of this leader is to force people to work to achieve organization objectives.  And will do whatever is required to do it.  Their primary focus is on production, period.

Developing a plan for their department this leader works with the guidelines and objectives issued by corporate superiors and systematically creates a written plan of measurable objectives and allocated budget items.  The plan is reviewed with the bosses and then the workers are told what is expected from the group and what expected each individual to do within the group.  The idea is to make people fit the plan or get rid of the people.

Staffing and staff development is not an issue.  Poor performers are weeded out.  Good performers are told how they can be better.  Staff is there to carry out the mission of the organization.

Staff is motivated by the carrot and stick method of dangling a reward or getting a kick in the back side to keep them in line.  If staff can’t handle it, they are let go.

Controlling is essential to running a tight ship.  Performance has to be measured and analyzed to create improvement.  Weak links have to be improved upon or gotten rid of. 

The Theory Y (Benevolent) Leader 

The management philosophy of this leader is that people are the most important resource.  The primary job is to help other achieve their goals.  We are here to provide employment opportunities and help staff achieve self-fulfillment. 

Developing a plan for their department, this leader looks at what resources are available, and works with staff so they develop their own personal plans.  They foster initiative and motivation with staff even if it is not part of a larger organization objective.

Staffing and staff development are created to mold the organization to the abilities of the people.  Everyone is unique and they to find people who will find great satisfaction working in the department.  Jobs are assigned to people based on how well they fit and how much they will like it.

Staff members are motivated with encouragement.  People will do their best if they think you like what they do.  A pat on the back is better than a kick.

Staff members are able to control their own performances.  This leader feels it better to provide staff with tools to improve themselves and encourage and support them along the way.  They believe people will excel in the right environment. 

The Theory Z (Team) Leader 

The management philosophy of this leader is to be committed to both production and people.  There is no conflict between the two.  Productivity is increased when the goals of the organization and the goals of the employees mesh.  They use a team approach to achieving organizational goals.

Good planning is the cornerstone of the organization.  Upper management and staff meet as a team to discuss the resources and plans and goals for the up coming year.  Individuals are met with to discuss their performance objectives for the year.

Staffing and staff development are the most important function for this leader.  Staff members help other staff members to achieve their goals.  People working together work better towards a common organizational goal.

Staff all work together for the common good.  Everyone has a say, everyone is heard from and everyone fully understands the organization’s goals and the individual’s goals.

Everyone is responsible for their on production.  There are set goals for measuring, but everyone is responsible to achieving the goals on their own.  Staff meets regularly to compare performance with the plan and decide how to correct deviations.  They believe everyone achieve more as a team.

A Case Study

To better appreciate the differences between these four leadership styles let’s consider this example.  The Widget Factory is on a tight schedule to complete a project.  Larry, Xavier, Yolanda and Zach are the project Task Leaders.  Each phase of the project is closely linked and each impacts the next.

During the third month of this 6-moth project it is discovered that they are three weeks behind schedule.

How then would each task leader deal with this situation?

Larry, the Lackadaisical Leader will do nothing.  He feels powerless and simply will not get involved.  He hopes this problem will simply go away and someone else will get them back on track.  He will only make the problem worse.

Xavier, the Autocratic Leader will jump in and demand that corrective action be taken.  He would demand that Larry be replaced immediately.  He will force everyone to work harder to make up for lost time until they are back on schedule.

Yolanda, the Benevolent Leader will play an active role in trying to get the project back on track.  She believes everyone is doing their best and they can get things back on track with some encouragement and hand holding.

Zach, the Team Leader will be to get all four task Leaders involved in a problem-solving effort.  Under his guidance they would discover the cause of the problem, what can be done to correct the problem and create a concrete plan of action to solve the problem.  A plan developed by the group for the group.

Which of the four approaches will be the most effective?  The answer should be obvious.  Zach, the Team Leader’s approach edges out the others because it provides quality of solution and commitment from the whole team to implement the solution.           

The Outcomes of Different Leadership Styles 

The Lackadaisical Leadership style leads to several undesirable outcomes:           

A synergistic collaboration between employees will probably never happen because no one is actively promoting such efforts
High Achievers will leave and the work force will be those who can’t or don’t want to find employment elsewhere.
Anyone wanting to achieve more will see that their efforts don’t make a difference.
Productivity will be low. 

The Autocratic Leadership style is likely to produce the following results:           

Decisions will not include other input and may be faulty.
Staff commitment will be low because they are not involved in the decisions.
Job satisfaction will be low.
Absenteeism and employee turnover will be high.
Employees may suffer from extreme job stress.
Workers will join together to form unions. 

The Benevolent Leadership style is like to have the following impact:           

Under achievers have high job satisfaction because they are not criticized.
High achievers will become disillusioned with the lack of production.
Creativity will suffer as a result of the need to smooth things over.
Competition will crush them. 

The Team Leadership style will have these outcomes: 

Absenteeism and employee turnover will be low.
Quality decisions are made because of employee input.
Creativity and innovation will grow.
Cooperation will prevail.
Short-term financial measures may be low, due to the need for investing in facilities and staff development.
Long-Term productivity will be at an all-time high.

 If the benefits of being a Theory Z (Team) leader are superior to any of the

other management styles then why do so few managers actually practice this amazing leadership style?


 Leadership is the art (or process) of influencing people so that they are willing to strive towards a common goal.  This process has two basic dimensions:  concern for production and concern for people.  These two dimensions produce four leadership styles, the Lackadaisical, the Autocrat, the Benevolent and the Team Leader.

In terms of affect on long-term productivity the Team Leader is superior in most situations.  It then becomes critical that enlightened organizations promote Team Leaders from within because they are healthy personalities, they are effective human beings and new managers needing role models can emulate them.

Mr. Young is a nationally certified activity director working at his local nursing home. He is currently working towards improving his state’s education requirements for becoming a certified activity director and building his consulting service based on the simple truths of Taoism.  He has completed his master’s level advanced coursework for his ACC certification.He received his minister’s ordaination from the ULC Monastery in 2007 and he holds a MetD degree in Metaphysics.He consults with other nursing homes and activity directors about how to meet spiritual needs of their geriatric residents and improve their activity programing.
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