In my summer reading pile of fun, 🙂 I have recently started “6 Habits of Highly Effective Bosses” and thus far have been fascinated by how easily leadership styles can be “sorted”.
45 years ago Douglas McGregor coined his clarification of organizational management into Theory X and Theory Y. As you begin your new school year, take some time to see which of these styles apply to you, and which you feel you most want to emulate. I see direct parallels to the classroom.
Theory X think people have an inherent dislike of work, that they avoid working when they can, and need to be controlled. They think employees prefer to be directed, dislike responsibility, and prefer the security of their role more than anything else.
This is the manager who feels employees (or students!) can’t ever be trusted, and need to be watched at all times. They need to be given explicit instruction, down to the very last detail, because there is an assumption that it won’t be done, or done correctly. Theory X leaders can mildly be described as micro managers; they feel that employees don’t care about the company’s interests in the long run. Formal rules, clearly laid out in black and white, and structures have to be in place to define clearly what WILL happen when employees don’t do things correctly…because obviously, they won’t.
In contrast, Theory Y believes people need to be inspired and empowered. They assume that control and punishment are not the only ways to make people work, and that employees (or students!) will actually direct themselves if they are committed to the work. If people are not ALL IN, then what they do becomes a job, versus their passion, versus something they are fully committed in seeing become successful. Theory Y sees people as assets that can be nurtured for the talent that they bring to the organization.
This directly correlates to the culture eats strategy for breakfast mindset. Or as Ron Willingham, author and chairman of the consulting firm Integrity Systems says, “People are important than processes.” Managers should base their success on team accomplishments. Maslow (yes, THAT Maslow) even suggests that managers that are comfortable with interpersonal negotiation , mediation, teamwork, and staff empowerment are more likely to be “successful” than “power kick” managers. Let go of some of that control and recognize that if people understand the why, they’ll be able to handle the how without being micromanaged.
As you kick off your school year, consider taking more time to build relationships than establishing the “rules” and the consequences of your world, whether it be your classroom or your campus. Student choice, student voice, and allowing our students to have a say in what they do can make a difference!
theory Y hopeN,