Compare Leadership Theory X And Y With Leadership Theory Z Thesis

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Comparing Leadership Theories

The most successful managers today strive to understand human nature and what truly motivates employees to be productive. In the most productive working environments, employees understand how they fit into the company and managers understand how to support their employees and encourage them to be successful.

Many managers are now straying from traditional leadership theories, such as Theory X and Theory Y, in favor of newer, more holistic theories, such as Theory Z This is largely because some of the more traditional theories focused on hierarchy and salaries, which proved to be ineffective in achieving business goals. Newer models focus on understand how working environment, personalities, and motivational forces impact employees and promote business goals.

The goal of this paper is to discuss two leadership theories, Theory X and Theory Y, and compare them to Theory Z the paper will discuss the theories' assumptions about motivation, leadership, power, job satisfaction, and authority.

In 1960, a leadership theorist named Douglas McGregor analyzed different assumptions about how employees work in various environments. As a result of McGregor's studies, Theory X and Theory Y -- also referred to as hard and soft theories, respectively -- were born (Benson, 1983). In a nutshell, Theory X is based on the assumption that employees have little interest in work and will try to avoid it whenever possible. Theory Y, however, assumes that employees enjoy their jobs and want to advance in their careers. These two theories hold generally opposing views. William Ouchi, took the Theory X, Theory Y concept one step further after studying Japanese management styles (Braden, 2007).

Theory X -- a "Hard" Leadership Style

Theory X manager operates under the assumption that employees do not like to work. To motivate his employees, this manager feels that he must pressure or micromanage his employees if he wants to achieve a decent level of productivity (Bittel, 1989). A Theory X manager will create a working environment that is rigid and uncreative. He will reward employees with financial incentives and punish them with disciplinary action.

This theory is based on a very hierarchical style (Bittel, 1989). Theory X managers are at the top of the management chain and prefer to keep the authority and power at the top. They do not usually involve employees in their decision-making; rather, they make decisions and instruct employees on how to execute on these decisions. It is very important to these managers that the job gets done and they tend to care very little about how employees feel about their work environment or any decisions that are made.

According to Kopelman et al. (2008): "At the foundation of McGregor's Theory Y are the assumptions that employees are: (1) not inherently lazy, (2) capable of self-direction and self-control, and (3) capable of providing important ideas/suggestions that will improve organizational effectiveness. Thus, with appropriate management practices, such as providing objectives and rewards and the opportunity to participate in decision making, personal and organizational goals can simultaneously be realized. In contrast to Theory Y, McGregor posited that conventional managerial assumptions (which he called Theory X) reflect essentially an opposite and negative view -- viz., that employees are lazy, are incapable of self-direction and autonomous work behavior, and have little to offer in terms of organizational problem solving."

Theory Y -- a Soft Leadership Style

Theory Y is, in many ways, the opposite of Theory X Rather than treating employees as subordinates, Theory Y recognizes a partnerships between employees and managers. It assumes that employees work because they like working and want to express their creativity (Bittel, 1989). It also assumes that they want to be responsible and appreciate being a part of the decision-making process. Theory Y managers aim to create a working environment that promotes creativity and gives employees a say in decisions, rather than simply making decisions without input and expecting everyone to be on board.

Theory Z -- a Hybrid Style

William Ouchi's Theory Z is somewhat of a hybrid leadership style, which is a cross between an American management style and a Japanese management style (Bittel, 1989). Ouchi perceived Japanese workers as being very involved in decisions and very good at multi-tasking. In the Japanese work environment, employees frequently rotated job roles, developed new skills, and favored generalization as opposed to specialization.

Theory Z assumes that employees and managers both desire good relationships that are mutually beneficial (Bittel, 1989). Theory Z holds that employees want to be supported by their managers and their companies in general. They value a working environment that promotes productivity but also encourages a good work-life balance. Managers assume that employees are there because they want to be there. They believe that employees are responsible and will get the job done without micromanagement.

Theory Z manager is confident that his employees are interested in their jobs and in the company. He looks to these employees to help make sound decisions based on their knowledge. Like Japanese managers, a Theory Z manager encourages his employees to become generalists, meaning that they will cross-train and rotate jobs with other employees. While promotions may be slower in such a setting, this is because an employee must learn a great deal about the company and how it operates before he is equipped to rise to the management level.

Ouchi believed that Japanese companies produce high employee commitment, motivation, and productivity. According to McGraw Hill (2008): "Many Japanese employees are guaranteed a position for life, increasing their loyalty to the company. Careful evaluation occurs over a period of time, and the responsibility for success or failure is shared among employees and management. Most employees do not specialize in one skill area, but work at several different tasks, learning more about the company as they develop. And Japanese companies are often concerned about all aspects of their employees' lives, on and off the job."

Ouch held that Type Z organizations have stable employment, high productivity, and high employee morale and satisfaction -- outcomes that are similar to those of Theory Y

Comparison of Theories

There are many similarities and differences between McGregor's Ouchi's theories. Both theorists developed their theories based on assumptions and perceptions. However, while Theory X and Theory Z focus mainly on how managers perceive employees, Theory Z also talks about how employees perceive their managers.

When it comes to leadership styles, Theory X and Theory Y managers are more formal that their Theory Z counterparts.

While Theory X and Theory Y managers have very different views of employees, they both hold that employees should be specialists rather than generalists, meaning that they specialize in one task or job. Theory Z is very different in this respect, as it holds that workers should get a broad view of the company and what makes it tick. Theory Z employees may jump role frequently in a quest to obtain this knowledge.

Theory Y and Theory Z managers see their employees in a similar light -- as responsible and important contributors to the decision-making process. As a manager, they aim to guide their employees, rather than instruct them. Theory X managers are very different in this respect, as they see themselves as authority figures who are responsible for making decisions and then ordering their employees to carry them out.

One of the biggest differences between traditional management styles and Theory Z is the logic behind what motivates employees (Braden, 2007). For example, Theory Z is based on the idea that employees have a need for self-actualization, meaning that they want to feel as if they are part of something worthwhile.

Theory X manager assumes that an employee is motivated primarily by money (Braden, 2007). Therefore, if an employee is unhappy, it would make sense to offer him or her more money in an attempt to solve the problem. On the other hand, a Theory Z manager recognizes that employees are motivated by other things, as well, such as fulfilling their personal goals, feeling respected, and security.

Theory X manager also operated under the assumption that employees are coming to work just to earn a paycheck (Braden, 2007). This manager assumes that employees are not excited to be at work, will shirk responsibility if they can get away with it, and works hard only if there is a financial incentive to so. For these reasons, this type of manager will lead by using such tactics as coercion, control, direction, micromanaging, disciplinary actions, or firing.

Theory Y manager is a little less black and white. This manager assumes that employees consider work to be a natural activity and will look for opportunities to have increased responsibility and greater understanding of their tasks (Braden, 2007). This type of manager uses leadership tactics such as providing favorable working conditions and trying to make situations as unthreatening as possible.

Theory Z manager takes this idea a step further with the assumption that employees actually crave opportunities to advance and learn more about the company (Braden, 2007). This type of manager will lead by encouraging… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Compare Leadership Theory X And Y With Leadership Theory Z.  (2008, November 20).  Retrieved January 21, 2020, from

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"Compare Leadership Theory X And Y With Leadership Theory Z."  20 November 2008.  Web.  21 January 2020. <>.

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"Compare Leadership Theory X And Y With Leadership Theory Z."  November 20, 2008.  Accessed January 21, 2020.