All "X" Types may not necessarily be "X" types


Praveen Kumar Srivastava
Sr. Faculty Member-HR
ICFAI National College

Abstract: Employee Retention has become a key issue in the organizations now a days. Along with monetary benefits there are several internal and external factors which play an important role in retaining the employees in the organizations and one amongst them is Leadership style. This article discusses how autocratic style of the leader can lead to employee dissatisfaction resulting in turnover or change in working style.


Thomas J Watson JR, the chairman of IBM says that "I believe the real difference between success and failures in the organization can be traced to the question of  how well the organization brings out the great energies and talent of its people"

In the context of contemporary Management the given statement fits appropriately and management thinkers since ages are working out on the issues of Motivation and effective leadership to bring out hidden talents in the people and use it constructively and appropriately in order to develop organizations and people working for the same.

Douglas McGregor, an American social psychologist proposed his famous theory X and Y in 1960 in his book "The Human Side Of Enterprise" and proposed two distinct views of human beings: one negative labeled as Theory X and other positive labeled as theory Y; Theory 'X' assumes that employees dislike work, are lazy, avoid  responsibilities and need to  be coerced to perform whereas  theory Y assumes that employees like work, are creative, seek responsibilities and can exercise self direction and   proposed two approaches or management styles viz; Authoritarian Management Style and Participative Management style for X type and Y type workers respectively .

The given theory of Douglas McGregor about X&Y type people and authoritarian and participative style of management raises many questions.

1. Disliking work and responsibility is the basic nature of some employees or there are some other factors responsible for the same?

2. Is there any possibility of transition from X type to Y type?

3. Most importantly is there any transition from Y type to x type and if there is then


MR A K Saxena is working as executive in a leading pharmaceutical company has a great track record and has won many accolades from the management in the past. A person with good sense of humor, knowledge, creativity, responsibility and is self driven. He has 5 members in his family comprising parents, wife and a five year old child who has been recently admitted in to a public school.

Mr. Malhotra who has recently joined the company as manager is a result oriented  and deadline driven person , believes in giving instructions and ultimatums, highly distant and detached, one way communicator, gives instructions, directions, edicts and diktats.

Working under and managing such kind of managers at work has always been a big challenge to the subordinates. 

Mr Saxena was once asked by the Manager to go to a particular territory and appoint a new stockist, since Mr. Sharma was considered to be aware of that territory and also the sales position. However, Mr Saxena suggested to the Manager that changing the stockist would hardly benefit the Company and also said that under the organization's existing policies , no stockist will accept it. Hence , to change the stockist , the organization needs to change the policies.

The manager gave a very straight reply saying " Look Mr Saxena I am a kind of person who never likes to be given suggestions, your job is to comply with my orders and behave like a doer, don't be a planner, be an executer only. You keep this thing in mind that I only want compliance not comments".

Mr Saxena was startled on hearing this and in the heat of the moment wanted to leave the job, but he decided not to do so on thinking about his family condition and the liabilities on him .He decided to let the things go the way they were going and decided not to give any suggestion or opinion. He also thought of changing the job the moment he got a better one.

There are some more interesting facts which came out after a survey. Interviews conducted by the Saratoga Institute with 20,000 workers who had just left an employer, revealed that the supervisor's behavior was the main reason because of which people quit. A 25-year-long Gallup Organisation study based on interviews with 12 million workers at 7,000  companies also found that the relationship with a manager largely determines the length of an employee's stay.  Research by the Corporate Leadership Council found that a high quality manager is of standout importance in attracting and retaining key talent.

The references quoted above are some examples of the behavior of the manager towards employees and undoubtedly people who have got responsibilities of their families on their shoulders would definitely succumb to this kind of autocratic style of management.

The given examples strongly endorse the third view that the conditions prevailing in the organization and behavior of the management compels the employees to have a transition from Y type to X type.

Paul Heresy and Ken Blenchard, in their situational leadership theory, focused on the follower. Successful leadership can be achieved by selecting the right leadership style and which is contingent on the level of followers' maturity. Interestingly they defined maturity as ability and willingness of people to take responsibility for directing their own behavior. It endorses one more phenomenon that effectiveness of leader depends on the action of  his or her own followers.

According to Situational Leadership Model, as follower reaches high levels of maturity, the leader responds not only by decreasing control over his activities but also the relationship behavior. Hersey and Blanchard  came out with four specific leadership style of Telling, Selling,  Participating and Delegating.

The maturity continuum telling style is for the people who are at the lowest end, that is, neither they are willing nor having the ability to perform .These kind of people need to be given inputs like training, teaching, counseling and psychological upbringing which would help them to move from telling to delegating. But people in the organization can not be purely at the extreme ends all the time. Their position depends on the situation, culture and environment prevailing in the organization

Most importantly the term "Willingness" of the employee depends a lot on the kind of style manager has adopted. An employee will only be willing to work if the organization is providing the employees the opportunity to have some elbow space to work and a sense of belongingness in the organization and if these things are missing there in no doubt that even the most talented and creative employees would feel like stifled in the organization resulting in frustration, absenteeism, turnover and transition from Y type to X type.

Praveen Kumar Srivastava
Sr. Faculty Member-HR
ICFAI National College

Source: E-mail September 26, 2007


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