People or Production
In management studies, there is a rich history of work engaging the importance of focus on people and results.
— A Concern for People is characterized by leaders or managers emphasizing and recognizing the needs of followers, and then working to meet followers in these areas of need.
— A Concern for Production or Results is characterized by leaders emphasizing organizational objectives and what the best pathways are for meeting these goals and objectives.
Engaging Leadership Style
The “Ohio State” studies, and the “University of Michigan” studies on these themes were complemented by what is known as Blake and Mouton’s Managerial Grid. Based on the categories of concern for people and concern for production or results, Blake and Mouton’s categorizes leaders in the following manner:
- Impoverished (low results/low people)
- Authority-Compliance (high results/low people)
- Country-Club (low results/high people)
- Middle-of-the-Road (med. results/med. People)
- Team (high results/high people).
People and Production
As leaders, it is easy to feel this tension between a focus on results or a focus on people. Many times, managers and leaders view it as a mutually exclusive decision. Either the focus will be on results, or the focus will be on people.
Thankfully, contemporary models of leadership are emphasizing the priority of both. Both people and production are valuable, and in fact the two serve each other in a healthy organizational system.
Chicken or Egg
But what comes first. Must a leader prioritize one over the other, even though both are valuable? Generally, transformational models of leadership emphasize change and getting things done. These approaches emphasize results along with individualized consideration as a necessary part of the leadership approach. This commitment to organizational goals is seen as the best way to meet the needs of people.
Servant-oriented models of leadership emphasize a commitment to people. These approaches emphasize a commitment to serving the needs of people as primary. This commitment to people is seen as the best way to accomplish organizational goals and objectives.
A Matter of Emphasis
It really comes down to a matter of emphasis. Both people and production are a priority. Both followers and goals are essential. But which is the best way to meet these aims. For the time being, I land on the side of emphasizing people first, and seeing this as the best way to also get things done.
Thankfully, there is a growing body or research helping us understand this relationship between goal-orientation and follower-focus.
Pursue both. Leaders who value and develop their people will have a solid community ready to meet organizational goals. Leaders who work with their community to get things done will have healthy organizations that provide stability for their people. Both are a priority, so lead well toward both of these ends.