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Supervisory Styles

You may hear your supervisor or a college professor discuss Theory X and Theory Y, what Douglas McGregor identified as assumptions that mold behavior. What are they?

  • Theory X (representing a more structured climate) supports management by control. It states that the worker should be directed and controlled in order to achieve high productivity. A basic assumption is that most employees are not self-motivated. Leaders with a Theory X orientation often reach consistently high productivity levels in their departments. They also have the reputation of doing an excellent job in training their employees.

  • Theory Y (representing a more democratic/permissive climate) encourages participative management. It states that workers will achieve greater productivity if they can set their own goals and direct their own efforts through involvement. The theory assumes that under the proper working climate, workers will motivate themselves. A discipline line is maintained at a lower level. Theory Y leaders who are sufficiently skillful to achieve high productivity demonstrate a high level of leadership talent that often attracts the attention of upper management.


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