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.
McGregor’s two extremes relate to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and, from the leader’s perspective, are the basis of models such as Hersey and Blanchard and Blake and Mouton.
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.
From the team’s perspective McGregor is closely related to models such as Maslow, Hertzberg and Tuckman.
- McGregor, D (1960), The Human Side of Enterprise, McGraw-Hill, New York