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Friday, October 22, 2010

Lean Quote: The Two Dimensions of Leadership

On Fridays I will post a Lean related Quote. Throughout our lifetimes many people touch our lives and leave us with words of wisdom. These can both be a source of new learning and also a point to pause and reflect upon lessons we have learned. Within Lean active learning is an important aspect on this journey because without learning we can not improve.

"Outstanding leaders go out of the way to boost the self-esteem of their personnel.  If people believe in themselves, it's amazing what they can accomplish." --Sam Walton.

Some leaders are very task-oriented; they simply want to get things done. Others are very people-oriented; they want people to be happy. And others are a combination of the two. If you prefer to lead by setting and enforcing tight schedules, you tend to be more production-oriented (or task-oriented). If you make people your priority and try to accommodate employee needs, then you're more people-oriented. 

A popular framework for thinking about a leader's 'task versus person' orientation was developed by Robert Blake and Jane Mouton in the early 1960s. Called the Managerial Grid, or Leadership Grid, it plots the degree of task-centeredness versus person-centeredness and identifies five combinations as distinct leadership styles.

By plotting 'concern for production' against 'concern for people', the grid highlights how placing too much emphasis in one area at the expense of the other leads to low overall productivity. The model proposes that when both people and production concerns are high, employee engagement and productivity increases accordingly.

As Same Walton alludes the goal of effective leadership is to make others successful in performing their jobs!  Therefore consider where you place your concern.

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  1. It's interesting that this model is nearly 40 years old and the proper balance continues to be an ongoing battle. It seems like treating people properly should understood as the way to go. Yet new leaders are learning as they go. Some seasoned leaders buy in while others don't. Then there is the question of how concern for people manifests itself. The leader may think he (or she) demonstrates great concern and a good balance while his team may see otherwise. That same leader may have a manager that thinks he is putting too much emphasis on people and not enough on production. Even those with the head knowledge still need to be able to execute.

    Thanks for sharing.


  2. I don't think it is any surprise that Toyota's House had the two pillars of respect for people and JIT (just in time). In TPS it is well understood you must consider both people and production if you want to create value for the customer.