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McGregor's Theory X and Theory Y Model

In the 1960s, Social Psychologist Douglas Mcgregor proposed two opposing beliefs that leaders had that affected their leadership style.

Theory X was focused on the mindset that people didn't work because they liked to. They worked because they had to and they felt coerced into work.

This type of leader focused their efforts on finding a way to force and control their people to do what was required. Whereas the opposing theory was that people worked because they chose to, and they found intrinsic motivation through their work, they wanted to be part of something and connect to a purpose.

What is fascinating is that, although most modern-day research indicates that Theory Y is true of what should be driving leadership behaviour, much of the retained thinking of days gone by still affects how many leaders lead today with some elements of Theory X leadership.

McGregor's Theory X and Theory Y Model

Think about your own leadership behaviour. What would the people you lead say?

Are you more Theory X or Theory Y?


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