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Flaws of "The Boss": Authority-Obedience Management

Where the Boss Goes Wrong

In the assessment of the varied management styles, one should examine Authority-Obedience Management and what it represents. Authority-obedience management is identified by an organization’s motivations. Worth writes, “Organizations that are high on production (task) and low on relationships are said to have authority-obedience management” (Worth, 2017, p. 111). More specifically, they likely value quantitative measures of output results over qualitative measures of the work environment. Generally considered dictatorships, such organizations are authoritative in their approach to management. As a consequence, they seemingly do not connect the concept of effective employee engagement with organizational success. When leaders consider the impact of team members on their own potential for success, they must recognize and exploit the skills and efforts of their staff. However, in order to effectively gain commitment from employees to maintain high performance, they must first engage them and gain their alliance. Thereby, they will establish an appropriate relationship which is mutually beneficial. Unfortunately, however, relationships are often neglected in the pursuit of production.

Authority-obedience management results from such a management style that is task-oriented, or task-motivated. A task-motivated management style focuses on goal-setting, task structuring, and performance measurement (Law, 2009). To formally describe management styles or behaviors, Blake and Mouton established The Managerial Grid where they plotted nine degrees of concern for the two management behavior variables, “concern for production” and “concern for people” (Blake & Mouton, 2006). At one corner of the grid, one will find Country-Club Management plotted at 1,9. Meanwhile, 9,1 at the bottom-right corner of the grid, Authority-Compliance (obedience) Management is found. While each degree has its benefits, both are flawed in their makeup.

The authority-obedience management style overly emphasizes the value of completing tasks to the extent that it risks human relationships. Contrarily, though, the country-club management style overly emphasizes the aspect of human relationships to the extent that it may jeopardize effectual production of work. Clearly, both extremes can be disastrous to the success of a team. Therefore, it must be noted that team management, found in the middle of the grid at 5,5, is the ideal position in that it is balanced.

One effective method for a leader to accomplish this is to learn how to transition from the role of a diminisher to that of a multiplier. Wiseman and Mckeown (2010) document that, “Some leaders seem to drain intelligence and capability out of the people around them” (Wiseman & McKeown, 2010). Too often, leaders maintain an overt focus on production results. Consequently, they may devalue relationships with and contributions of others.

Overshadowing the value that team members possess can be easily accomplished when a leader attempts to make a name for themselves. However, when a leader learns to value relationships and also master the utilization of skills and expertise beyond his own capacity, he finds that the commitment, trust, and efforts from others will only serve to make him more successful. Therefore, a healthy focus on relationships, when teams are empowered to perform, will actually increase productivity as a result. Especially important in the nonprofit sector, employees must be engaged in order to perform well. Since many nonprofits value their work over finance, team management that focuses on relationship will be instrumental to the success of the organization.

References

Blake, R. R., & Mouton, J. S. (2006). The Managerial Grid. Thinkers. London: Chartered Management Institute.

Hill, S. D. (Ed.). (2012). Management Styles. Encyclopedia of Management, 632-636.

Kippenberger, T. (2002). Leadership Styles : Leading 08.04. Oxford, United Kingdom: Capstone.

Law, J. (Ed.). (2009). A Dictionary of Business and Management. 5. Oxford University Press.

Management Styles. (2012). In S. D. Hill (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Management (7th ed., pp. 632-636). Detroit: Gale.

Olson, D. T. (2014). Discovering Your Leadership Style : The Power of Chemistry, Strategy and Spirituality. Downers Grove, US: IVP Books.

Wiseman, L., & McKeown, G. (2010). Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter. New York: Harper Collins Publishers Inc.

Worth, M. J. (2017). Nonprofit Management Principles and Practice. Thousand Oaks: SAGE.

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