Top 25 Models & Theories – Part 2

Continuing with our list of the 25 models, frameworks and theories that every leader needs to know, let’s look at 5 theories or models of leadership.  Again, these aren’t the only descriptions and frameworks available, but I believe these 5 really help us make sense of our role as the leader:   

1. Theory X, Theory Y – Douglas McGregor, an American social psychologist, proposed this theory in 1960; it remains relevant almost 50 years later. McGregor felt there were two competing assumptions about work – Theory X, which states that human inherently dislike work and will try to avoid it where possible, and Theory Y, which says that people view work as naturally as they do play and rest, and will expend the same amount of energy in their work as they would in their private lives. Both Theory X and Y have corresponding management styles and objectives, based on the premise of making people work or helping them find meaning in their work. McGregor believed that Theory Y was the preferable management model of course, but he felt it was difficult to implement in large organizations. Psychologists and researchers are still debating the theories today, and many believe empowerment is the bridge to Theory Y. Something to think about if you lead large organizations…

2. Situational Leadership – Ken Blanchard and Paul Hersey developed this classic model of leadership based on the premise that leaders must use different styles depending on the situation.   There are two primary leadership dimensions in the model – support and direction. Blanchard and Hersey believe these dimensions are applied in four main situations, as follows: Telling/Directing (where the leader defines the task and role and supervises people closely – in other words, high task focus, low relationship focus); Selling/Coaching (where the leader still defines the role, but seeks suggestions and ideas from the employee and coaches more actively – high task, high relationship focus); Participating/Supporting (where the leader gives day-to-day responsibility to the employee and spends her time supporting the employee – low task, high relationship focus); and Delegating (where the leader is mostly out of the day-to-day picture, and the employee is really in charge of determining how to get the leader involved – low task, low relationship focus). Situational leadership has had a long and storied history, and is still taught extensively in leadership programs around the world.

3. Servant Leadership – In 1970, Robert Greenleaf, an AT&T executive, coined this phrase in an essay entitled “The Servant as Leader”. Since then, it has picked up a following as a “model” of leadership that many embrace as the final phase in a leader’s development. It’s an altruistic principle that describes the leader as being in full service to his or her employees. The idea is that a servant leader is focused on removing barriers, developing people’s skills or careers, etc. Servant leaders encourage collaboration, trust, openness, and empowerment. Above all, the servant leader makes sure that other people’s needs are the highest priority. If you’ve ever worked for a servant leader, believe me, you won’t soon forget it!

4. Emotional Intelligence – this is less a theory, and more a body of research. In his 1995 book by the same name, Daniel Goleman presented the case that being aware of and leveraging one’s emotions and relationships is as important as brains and dedication to achieving career success. Several other books quickly appeared, one of them building on the emotional intelligence phrase with the moniker “EQ” – which has now become a companion to “IQ” as people describe whether a leader “gets it” in addition to having the smarts to do the job. Many executive coaches work with leaders who have high IQ and low EQ, meaning they know what to do, but often leave a wake of broken relationships as they go about getting results. Goleman favors four basic dimensions of EI, as follows: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management. Putting these dimensions into relevant questions can be a useful exercise. Do you know yourself? Do you manage yourself appropriately? Are you aware of how you show up with others? Are you managing your relationships accordingly? If you know this concept, great. If you don’t, read more about it – it’s worth the effort.

5. Leadership Pipeline – Finally, this leadership framework is helpful in knowing how leaders at different levels of the organization grow and develop. This concept, popularized by Ram Charan, Stephen Drotter, and James Noel in their 2001 book The Leadership Pipeline, builds on the work of Walt Mahler, who was working with career transitions at GE in the 1970’s. Essentially, this model suggests that as managers and leaders move up through the organization, they face different challenges and stages of development, and move through passages where certain skills and capabilities begin to take on greater importance. Leaders moving through these passages are facing new experiences that act as teaching moments, which add to their already existing toolkit of leadership competencies. The stages in the Leadership Pipeline model (moving up the organization) include: Managing Self, Managing Others, Managing Managers, Functional Manager, Business Manager, Group Manager, and Enterprise Manager. This model is important for all leaders to recognize, but especially those in a position to teach, coach and “give back” to their organizations in terms of helping junior managers develop and advance their careers.

Next up – 5 management techniques that every leader needs to know and apply on a regular basis.