4 Likert’s Management System and Leadership

The phenomenon of leadership was of interest to more than one generation of thinkers, scientists, researchers. And never among them, there were unified views on the definition, essence, and nature of this phenomenon. However, the development of ideas about leadership, experimental developments served as the fact that in the theory of leadership four basic approaches to understanding leadership were formed consistently one by one. Moreover, each of the following already represented a more mature position, based on the workings of its predecessors. Rensis Likert proposed four styles of organizational leadership, or a model of management systems, which were the result of years of research by the Michigan group.

The Four Systems of the Management System by Likert

R. Laikert and his colleagues also differentiated the leaders to those who are oriented to the activity, and those who are oriented to the person. But apart from that, he considered such a parameter as labor productivity.

The task-oriented leader cares first of all about the precise design of the task and the development of an effective reward system to increase labor productivity. A person-centered leader allows employees to participate in decision-making as much as possible, avoids petty care, and focuses on improving productivity by improving human relationships.

Later, R. Likert described four basic systems of leadership style.

  1. System 1 (Exploitative Authoritative) includes exploitative-authoritarian leaders, i.e. leaders for whom the desire for absolute and unlimited power is characteristic. Thus, system 1 is oriented to a problem with a rigidly structured control system.
  2. System 2 (Benevolent Authoritative) also includes authoritarian leaders. They also aspire to unlimited power, but they can allow other members of the group to at least sometimes participate in decision-making.
  3. System 3 (Consultative) includes leaders who use an advisory-democratic style. They significantly, but do not fully trust the other members of the group, so many specific decisions are made by ordinary members of the group, the leader makes significant decisions solely.
  4. System 4 (Participative) is based on participation. It includes leaders who completely trust ordinary members of the group, actively involving them in decision-making, using informal forms of communication. This system is focused on relationships, based on the brigade organization of labor, collegial management, the delegation of authority and overall control.

Advantages of Likert’s Management System

The advantages of Likert's concept are that it can be easily operationalized and used in a sociological study. To speed up the analysis of the organization, the author has developed a special tool, the full version of which includes 20 points (variables).

Three Variables Taken by Likert

R. Laikert established three types of variables that determine the long-term effectiveness of the organization.

To the causal variables, he attributed intraorganizational factors that are under the control of the administration. This is the formal structure of the organization, economic strategy and social policy, the professional and qualification composition of workers, and so on.

Intermediate variables denote the human resources of the organization. This includes attitude to work and people's skills, organizational climate, decision-making methods, level of trust in management, loyalty, ways to stimulate and motivate activities, etc.

The resulting dependent variables express the final result of the effort. It can be the growth or fall of labor productivity and profit, the satisfaction of their products with consumer requests, etc.

The relationship between these factors can be presented as incentives (causes) that affect the organism (resources) and create a certain result (output). This model explains why trying to directly influence intermediate variables, as a rule, does not lead to success. It is more appropriate to influence them through changing causal factors. Similarly, an attempt to improve the resultant performance of an organization through an impact on the intermediate, according to Likert, is less successful than changing the causal variables.

The negative consequences of the violation of such principles in the production team are obvious. The manager seeks at any cost to increase productivity or fulfill the plan (the resultant indicators), putting pressure on the behavior of employees (intermediate factors), not having previously taken care of improving the organization and working conditions, the selection of qualified personnel (causal variables).

In the end, he will achieve temporary successes and even make a personal career, but the climate in the team will gradually worsen. Other indicators can also change: the turnover of staff, the number of accidents, increased absenteeism in the workplace due to illness.

Restoring the disturbed balance in the organization will require much greater effort and material costs than the achievement of short-term success. According to a study by R. Laikert, in small organizations, the restoration of the socio-psychological climate takes from one to three years, in large organizations up to seven years.