Managers – Competence OR Style?

Most management development programmes focus on developing either management competence or management style. Whilst at first glance these two areas seem independent of each other but that is not the case. Management Competence deals with the question “what managers have to do to” and management style deals with “how they do it”. Whether we like it or not every manager has a management competency level and a management style.

Management style is partially an individual choice but increasingly organisations, especially high performing ones, define the management style they are looking for the organisation to have. That organisational management style is looked for when recruiting new managers, implementing management development programmes and is a pre-requisite to advance in the organisation.

So it is important that individuals and organisations alike can define the management style they are looking for and measure the management style they have now so they know what their development areas are.

Traditionally management style has been measured using models such as Hersey & Blanchard’s Situational Leadership Model or the Blake & Mouton’s Managerial Grid both of which are as valid today as when they are written. But we want to give you a little more of my insight behind what makes management style.

Management Style

We believe management style can be broken down into three key areas:

Personal Style

Personal Styles are based on 4 of the patterns first recognised by Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Jung whose book ‘Psychological Types‘ was translated and published in 1974. Although Jung’s research and theory has been around for a long time managers are only now just beginning to discover the value of his work.

According to Jung, what really accounts for our personality differences is the mixture of the four patterns of behavior that each of us possesses. We are all a combination of Intuitor, Thinker, Feeler and Sensor.

Jung believes that this mixture is genetically determined and can be seen in infants at an early age. Teachers in primary schools have no difficulty in identifying the prominent styles in their pupils and this is carried on into our work lives and is clearly observable by everyone and underpins everything we do.

McGregor’s ‘X’ and ‘Y’ styles

Douglas McGregor, an American social psychologist, proposed his famous X-Y theory in his 1960 book ‘The Human Side Of Enterprise’. McGregor’s ideas suggest that there are two fundamental approaches to managing people. Many managers tend towards theory X, and generally get poor results. Enlightened managers use theory Y, which produces better performance and results, and allows people to grow and develop.

Managers must adopt an Adult-Adult (Theory Y) management style to create independence of learning, action and decision making, i.e. being more of a coach than a traditional ‘boss’. However, Parent-Child (Theory X) management style is required in certain situations, e.g if the fire alarm is sounded. It is important that managers flex between the two styles as the situation requires.

Communication Styles

When we communicate with other people we can have one of four responses:

Empathic Response is a non-judgmental reply that captures the essential theme of what was said and/or the feeling expressed. This communication style reflects a positive attitude, addresses elements of personal value and goes a long way in making communication a two-way exchange.

Critical Response expresses judgment or evaluation that results from a natural tendency to judge others either approvingly or dis-approvingly. This response style often challenges what people say and why they feel like they do and people do not take kindly to criticism, regardless of the spirit in which it is given.

The Searching Response asks for additional information so that we can understand the other persons actions or feelings. Managers may ask for additional information to get to the root cause of a problem or just let the other person ‘let off steam’ and thereby express their emotions.

An Advising Response is a recommendation to the other person of what they should or should not do. The myth that when someone comes to us with a problem it is our job to solve it or at least tell them what to do is not true instead we should help them work out their own solution.


In order to be effective, managers need the twelve core competencies at the right level to be able to ‘do the right things’ but they need to combine these with the appropriate management style to be the most effective. Management style is made up of our personal style, our ability to flex between ‘X’ and ‘Y’ styles and our communication style. Only when everything is working together can we optimise our management effectiveness. The key is how you measure both – there are tools around like MAP 2.0 assessment which enable you to measure both management competency and style so make sure you leverage their benefit.

For more information on the MAP 2.0 Competency Framework and other MAP 2.0 products contact us at 0330 660 0220 or email management@dpgplc.co.uk