Douglas McGregor is most famous for his Theory X and Theory Y as described in his book ‘The Human Side of Enterprise’ 1.
McGregor identified two extreme views of leadership. Theory X managers assume that people fundamentally dislike work and need authoritarian leadership. Theory Y managers assume that people can be ambitious and self-motivated and see their role as developing each individual’s potential.
Being a good leader is not about being a Theory X or Theory Y manager, it is about knowing three things: firstly, what is your natural style; secondly, what combination of theory X and theory Y is needed at different phases of a project or programme; finally, what combination of theory X and theory Y is appropriate to the team being led and the individuals within it.
- McGregor, D (1960), The Human Side of Enterprise, McGraw-Hill, New York