In the past few decades, many leadership gurus came up with different definitions of leadership styles. Out of those theories, many of them are based on task – relationship characteristics. In 1938, Lewin and Lippitt proposed classifications of leaders based on how much involvement leaders placed into task and relationship needs.
Almost after four decades, in 1973, Tannenbaum & Schmidt came up with a continuum of earlier studies with range of leadership behaviors, ranging from manager-centered (task) to subordinate-centered (relationship).
Tannenbaum and Schmidt Continuum model shows the relationship between the levels of freedom that a manager chooses to give to a team, and the level of authority used by the manager. As we already discussed in Situational leadership, number of parameters goes into choosing the managerial style: manager’s competence, subordinate’s developmental level, the situation.
Based on the above parameters, level of delegation takes any one of the seven levels as depicted by the central arrow line.
Tannenbaum & Schmidt concentrated more on delegation & freedom in decision making to subordinates and there by on the team development. As the team’s freedom increases, the manager’s authority decreases. This is a positive way for both teams and managers to develop. We already dealt delegating in a different blog post.
Tannenbaum & Schmidt defined 7 levels of delegated freedom which moves from manager-oriented to subordinate-oriented. As team develops, level moves from one to the next – the area of freedom increases and the need for manager’s intervention decreases. Following levels are self-explanatory and easy to understand:
1. Manager takes decision and announces it – only manager plays the decision-making role; no team involvement
2. Manager decides and then “Sells” his decision to the team – no change in decision; but team may raise some concerns
3. Manager presents decision with background ideas for the decision and invite questions – team knows what options manager considered for his decision; more team involvement
4. Manager suggests provisional decision & invites discussion regarding the decision – team can have a say on manager’s decision; it can be changed based on discussion
5. Manager presents the problem or situation, get suggestions, then decides – team is free to come up with options; manager decides on those options
6. Manager explains the situation or problem, defines the parameters and asks team to decide on the solution – manager delegated whole thing to the team; but still manager is accountable for the outcome
7. Manager allows team to develop options and decide on the action, within the manager’s received limit – complete freedom level; team does all the work almost as what the manager does at level 1.
The main advantage of this theory: for leaders/managers – it defines the criteria for involvement and delegation & range of choices for the involvement.
Update on 08/16/2011 – Added Google Doc Presentation of this Article: