Northouse spend…


Northouse spends a large portion of Chapter 3 discussing McGregor’s Theories X and Y.  While the distinction is clearly binary, the framework is an important one.  Ultimately, whether you align more with one or the other will likely shape your philosophy of leadership and/or values heavily.  So which to you buy? X or Y?  Let’s get some discussion going on this.

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35 Responses to Northouse spend…

  1. Lauren Nance says:

    I feel like I definitely have Theory Y values. I usually have a laid-back demeanor so it would be harder for me to be very directive and controlling like you would see with Theory X. I also would want to work with people who like their jobs and are accepting of their responsibilities and wouldn’t mind doing more. I think with Theory Y, the environment is much friendlier and encourages creativity which leads to greater group member satisfaction. I think sometimes though, the role you play depends on where you’re working. For example, Theory X might be the only way to go if you’re a basketball coach with a team full of disrespectful players. They need the direction and clarity from an authoritarian.

  2. Libby Howe says:

    Theory Y leadership values involve a friendlier, more relaxed environment and therefore are the set of values preferable to a lot of college students. However, my chosen prospective career field will probably require leadership values that lean more towards the Theory X realm. I am a Pre-Education English major hoping to one day be a High School Literature teacher. I am speaking from experience when I say a significant percentage of students are not inherently motivated to work hard and do well in a high school English class. Therefore, certain aspects of Theory X such as requiring incentives and rewards will be vital to the success of my personal leadership role. Theory X’s beliefs in leader encouragement coincide with a teacher’s job of enticing students to perform to the best of their ability. Also, while Theory Y involves leaders presence on the same level as subordinates, in order to instill respect and authority, teachers must maintain a position above students.

  3. Daniel says:

    I feel I fall in between the X and Y spectrum. I agree with the X theory assumption that people are lazy and dislike work, but I don’t think they should be controlled directly. I also don’t think people are against responsibility. In my opinion people should be motivated into doing work, so that they no longer consider it “work” at all. If you connect with your followers, you give them a reason beyond shallow rewards to have responsibility and care. They no longer become forced to work, but rather want to play. Sometimes however, an authoritarian leadership is needed initially to set up the system before making a transition into a more democratic Y theory style.

  4. Carly Scullin says:

    I feel like I fall between Theory X and Y, but I more strongly have Theory Y values. I agree with Theory Y in that I believe the average worker does not dislike work, but I also agree with Theory X in that many people need a goal in order to be motivated to work, like money. I also believe in assumption #3 of Theory Y that “the average person learns to accept and seek responsibility”. Before many of us entered college we didn’t have many responsibilities. Our parents took care of us before,but put in an environment like college where we are on our own we stepped up and accepted responsibilty. Even though many of my values and beliefs line up more with Theory Y, I believe that there still needs to be some control and direction in order to get work done efficiently.

  5. Kristen Fisher says:

    I can see both theories because it varies person to person and the field of work. Some people have no option to work and can’t find a job in their field; therefore, they usually dislike work and do it because they have to. It isn’t really what they want to do, but many are doing it because of supporting themselves or others. Also, some people would never work if it wasn’t for assumption #2 of Theory X which is: “Because people dislike work, they need to be directed, controlled, and sometimes threatened with punishment or reminded of rewards to make them work.” It really depends on the person. Not everyone can be self-motivated while others can’t be constantly pushed to be self-motivated. I personally think that I fall more in the Theory Y category more. I would like to think that my job will be something I am truly passionate about, and that I will not dread my field of work. However, I can’t predict the future. I know that no matter what, I will work. Right now at my age, I believe I fit into Theory Y more than Theory X.

    • Catherine (Cate) Beach says:

      I completely agree with what you are saying. It really depends on the person and their own set of values. Some people are just unmotivated and need to be given some sort of incentive. And yes, there are a lot of people who are doing jobs that they didn’t go to school intending to do or that they even want to do, but it’s what makes ends meet so they have to do that job. Depending on who you are and your outlook on things, the theories will differ. I am a Theory Y person but when I realize I am with certain people who need more motivation and direction, I definitely gain a few of the traits of X theory leaders.

    • Rachel Cotton says:

      I fit into Theory Y as well. My philosophy is, if you don’t want to work here or be here then leave. There is no point in me trying to make someone do something they don’t want to do when I can find someone else to do the job who actually wants to do it.

      I think that it is very interesting that you bring up the fact that people work to support themselves or others. I think that is something that neither Theory X or Theory Y take into account. Theory X and Theory Y think about whether or not you absolutely Need to work. These theories think that everyone has a choice in their work or whether they need to work or not when that is not the case at all. Someone who needs money very badly will be very motivated whether they enjoy their job or not.

  6. Jacob Melton says:

    Personally I fall closest to Theory Y, but this isn’t to say I wouldn’t find value in Theory X. I believe that different types of people require a different method of leadership. The book gives examples of where each is beneficial which speaks to the idea that both theories hold value. I believe if you find someone a task or subject that they are passionate about, they will work on it without question or need for motivation. I believe each person has this passion and it’s a responsibility of a leader to help find it. Additionally there are situations where establishing clear goals, deadlines, and boundaries are needed to set up a proper environment for whatever task is being done, but as the relation between leader and follower develops these can be slackened.

    • Grace Ellis says:

      I completely agree with Jacob. I believe that in general people who are passionate about their work will not need strict rules to guide them and harsh punishments to motivate them. I like what he said about different types of people require different methods of leadership. People who are motivated on their own could thrive under Theory Y leadership, since they have room to be creative and learn how to be leaders themselves. People who perhaps are not particularly driven in their current situation but need to complete tasks would benefit from Theory X leadership, since it would offer them sufficient guidance and incentive to carry out their work in an orderly and timely fashion.

  7. Allyson True says:

    I think I fall somewhere in between but I am probably closer to Theory X. In high school, I was drum major of our marching band and looking back, I feel like I lead with Theory X ideals. Band wasn’t required and even though everyone wanted to be there, the motivation wasn’t always there, so you have to be a little more dictator-like. I think that both of these styles could be very effective if they are used in the proper setting. Like someone else said, a high school classroom setting definitely needs a Theory X leader because most of the kids really don’t want to be there. But I think something like a church youth group would do better with a Theory Y leader, so that the members feel like they have a friend and someone to talk to. That leader would also be there to keep the meetings on track and lead discussions.

  8. Emma Douglas says:

    It seems as though Theory Y is much more positive than Theory X. Even though I do find myself leaning more towards Theory X as my own personal leadership philosophy, I do definitely find a lot of value in Theory Y. I thoroughly believe that different situations require different styles of leadership, just like how different groups of people require different styles. This being said, I believe that people need goals to be set (sometimes for them) in order for a task to be completed. A little Theory Y comes in here: I also believe people must be passionate about the task they are completing in order to complete the task successfully. I don’t think it is possible to completely rely on Theory Y, because without motivation or goals that are clearly set and defined, it would be difficult to complete tasks efficiently.

  9. Lewis Tucker says:

    I believe I am more of a Theory Y person but I also think Theory X is valid in that some individuals dislike work. I feel that both theories are very useful in different situations and a combination is a good way to go. I strongly agreed with assumption #2 of Theory Y because in my experience when people really want something and are committed to it, they will work hard. Apart from that assumption in Theory Y, I feel that different people have each theory but all people have assumption #2 of Theory Y. I like the idea of Theory Y but in truth people differ and are lazy and therefore Theory X must be implemented.

    • Ryan Jenvey says:

      I agree with Lewis, I too am a Theory Y kind of person. I do not think that one theory is better than the other. There are certain contexts and situations where one theory might be better than another. The difference between Theory X and Theory Y is simply incentive. In one situation the incentive may be punishment while the other may be a reward.

  10. Haley Ward says:

    I am definitely more of a Theory Y type of person, however, there are times where I have had to develop some Theory X qualities just because of the audience I was leading. Looking back on the leadership positions I held back in high school, I was more than often on the same level with the groups that I led. For instance, I was president of a sorority at my high school and I never felt the need to be “above” them because like most Theory Y leaders assume, the girls wanted to be there doing service projects or at meetings. Although, I do understand where some of the assumptions are coming from with Theory X. I believe it is true that the average working adult does not want to be at his or her job, however, I agree with a few people above that not everyone may be doing what they love and probably did not exactly choose the job they have. I agree with all the assumptions made by Theory Y, though most of the time while I was reading the assumptions for Theory X, I kept thinking how dictator-like they were and disagreed with most of them, but I do understand that there is a time and place for some of those qualities to take effect.

  11. Shane Tolley says:

    Personally I prefer a Theory Y approach. In high school I was an officer in the marching band, and one of our responsibilities was to teach the younger members how to march, we did these in “Squads.” Many officers decided to punish mistakes in squads by assigning push-ups. Before I was an officer, I was assigned push-ups on several occasions and I felt like push-ups never taught me anything. We were just told to “drop out, do five, and then join back in,” but not helped to understand how I could avoid making the same mistake again. So when I became I squad leader I decided to operate on a no push-ups basis. Instead of punishing mistakes, I decided to try and help that squad member understand what he/she did wrong and how they could avoid the problem in the future.
    I would rather lead while acting as a guide to my followers rather than as a director. I think Theory Y leadership builds a better attitude within the entire group. While completing the task is important, it is also important to build a relationship with your followers. I believe the work will be done better if everyone is happy while they’re doing it.

  12. Emma Reeves says:

    I can see validity in both Theory X and Theory Y, and I can think of examples of both. Many high school students, for example, need at least a little bit of direction and control. Otherwise, many of them would refuse to accept any responsibility. This supports Theory X. On the other hand, I have come across people that are extremely self-motivated and go out of their way to take on responsibilty. I’ve seen this in people my own age here at Tech and in adults who love the work they do. These are examples that support Theory Y. Ultimately, I think both theories are valid and it just depends on a person’s personality when it comes to who falls under which category.

  13. Riley St. Pierre says:

    I am both a Theory Y and Theory X person. I think it all depends on the person. Some people are lazy and don’t like working so they do need to be pushed and motivated to work. I also think a lot of people like to work and find incentives in doing so other than money: pride, self encouragement, joy, production, and also the ability to improve or move up in a position. I think all those things allow many people to enjoy work as well as find it as their natural duty here on Earth, therefore they don’t need as much leadership motivation. I think the majority of people, however, are in between. They need some motivation to work yet they do enjoy being productive. I don’t like to do some work but I love being productive and getting things done. Also, when I don’t work for a long time or I have a period of being lazy I find myself wanting to work and do something. So therefore as I said earlier I fall in between X and Y.

  14. Cat Hauser says:

    I think it depends on the situation for what theory is used. It also depends on the people that are being led. Some people like to work and get the job done, those people can be led by Theory Y. They do not need motivation or to be bribed. However, if the people are lazy and do not want to do work to begin with, they may need to be led by Theory X. From my experience, most people I have come in contact with generally like to work or get the job done. There is always that one person who does not want to do anything, but when they are surrounded by a group of hard workers, they are usually motivated that way and not because they need someone to tell them to work. I would like to say that if the situation arises, I would be more of a Theory Y leader because I like to think that people are hard workers on their own.

  15. Courtney H says:

    I agree with Cat on this one. Theory X and Theory Y both have their positives and negatives and each individual situation determines which Theory is practiced. I do not identify with just one or the other, because sometimes certain people I work with need direction, so I assume the Theory X role. And other times I find myself surrounded by driven and determined people in need of no minimal leadership.

  16. Anna Fox says:

    I feel like I definitely align more with Theory Y. There is definitely need for both styles depending on the situation. In my life I definitely have come across more people that are driven to work and dont need that much direction. Theory X and Theory Y are definitely both valid ways of thinking, it just depends on a person’s personality as to which they align with more.

  17. David Bohn says:

    I see myself as primarily exhibiting traits of a Theory Y leader. But I believe each Theory exhibits benefits. Certain situations and people call for different reactions and implementation of the Theory’s. In jobs where people are there just for the pay checks, motivation and direction would be a requirement. When people are in a job because they enjoy the work and atmosphere, Theory Y can be implemented. Working alongside people providing support helps to build respect as a leader (Theory Y). Really the Theory implemented depends on the situation and the determination/mood of the followers.

  18. Sam Weber says:

    I definitely believe more in the ideas presented in Theory Y. In general people can work hard to achieve goals on their own, and seek responsibility. Of course everyone needs a little motivation now and then but for the most part, Theory Y seems to be a more effective approach to leadership. I would almost say that disagree more with the ideas of Theory X more than I agree with those of Theory Y. I don’t agree that people dislike work; I think that most people like work sometimes, but at other times need some extra drive and motivation.

  19. Victoria Gray says:

    My personal belief is that my leadership style is represented my Theory Y. I am a person who values cooperation and harmony. I believe that direct orders are not the way to create a sense of community and respect in a work situation. When people are treated fairly, individuals do want to work and have much more motivation to complete a task. However, I cannot ignore that in certain situation Theory X must be implemented. I believe situations are when people hate their jobs or see them as only a temporary situation, like a fast food restaurant.

  20. Francisco Gabitan says:

    Both theories apply to me, it’s a just a matter of situation and circumstance. Realistically, not everybody is the same and different types of approaches will work for some while they won’t for others. No company in existence has employees in which all either like to work or dislike it, there will always be a mixture of both therefore concepts from both theories must be applied depending on these variables. Some people must be directed to work because they simply have no motivation while others are self motivated, this is true of all work places. The fact of the matter is, everyone has a different personality and there will be hard workers who will accept and seek responsibility because their personal values make them do so but there will also be those who need a little push, leadership and guidance. Depending on what the circumstances call for, my alignment with both theories will change to whatever type I need to associate myself with in order to be the best leader that I need to be.

  21. Abby says:

    Personally, I think that it’s easier to accept Theory Y. It follows more closely to why I believe people should work hard, and it also let’s us have more faith in humanity (instead of thinking that we’re all selfish and lazy and will only work for money). Unfortunately, there are always those exceptions where you have to change your leadership style to be more effective. Sometimes there will be that person who is lazy or just doesn’t understand the concept of working and will only work if it is beneficial to them. In that situation, Theory X is applicable; however, I think that for the most part, Theory Y is more accurate because a lot of people want to work because they want to be of help, or they just have a conscience…

  22. Crista Watson says:

    I think that there is a little of both theories in every situation. However, I lean more towards theory “Y” because I believe that in each one of us lies the motivation to do work and take on responsibility. Every single time after a long and lazy summer vacation, I have felt ready to do work and looked forward to the new school year. Life would be boring with no responsibility. My responsibility was to be a student and it felt awesome when I finished my homework or a big project. There was always something that motivated me to finish it: hanging out with friends on the weekend, taking a trip somewhere, a party, etc. Nevertheless, school is not something kids love because the work can become tough and overbearing. This is where theory X would come into play. The dislike for schoolwork lead to a dislike for work in general. I always wished I didn’t have to go to school so I could sit at home and be stress free. Except, that feeling of nothingness only made me happy for some time (summer vacation) because when it was over I was ready to do work again.

  23. Jasmine Porter says:

    As a leader, I consider myself to be a little bit of both theories. Although, If I had to choose between X and Y theory I would choose Y. I show the traits of the Y theory by not controlling my followers but leading to be an individual. I believe that if you want to do big things in life you have to work for it; therefore, I believe people like to work for what they want. As I analyze myself, I see that I am willing to work and I accept and seek responsibility.

  24. Maggie D says:

    I see myself as having more theory y qualities. I tend to be self-motivated and take responsibility of my actions. However, I definitely think it is possible to have qualities of both theory x and theory y. As a SGA Board Member and varsity lacrosse captain in high school, I chose to lead by example instead of being controlling and pushing authority onto others. As a SGA Board member I had to teach student government classes to freshmen/sophomores and juniors/seniors. The freshmen/sophomore class required more of a theory x approach because they need to be directed and controlled more while the junior/senior class allowed for a theory y approach because they were more self-motivated and sought responsibility.

  25. Macy Kinder says:

    I think theory ‘Y’ is more effective. This is because theory ‘Y’ encourages positive thinking to motivate followers/workers. People will put more into something when they feel like they’re being appreciated. Theory ‘X’ makes the followers/workers feel completely controlled and incompetent of doing something themselves. Theory ‘Y’ makes people want to seek out responsibility because they know that their leader is behind them all the way.

  26. Mariana Sa says:

    I am totally an adept of theory Y, no questioning. As a leader, I don’t believe people dislike work, and their general tasks, I believe people need great leadership guiding the bigger party, and this is how they get excited to accomplish their tasks or not. Considering my own experience with both leadership styles, X and Y, I can say I worked much better – if not to say I only worked properly – when guided by theory Y, as well as had better response from groups I guided using theory Y. The fact that some people indeed are not happy with their jobs and lives in general cannot simply rely on the type of leadership surrounding them. People have personal issues and goals besides the work environment and this influences their performance. Nevertheless, well prepared professionals – who are also leaders – are able to separate their personal aspect from their professional one, so that they can rely exclusively on leadership relations. In summary, theory Y seems to me to work more effectively on well prepared people, that are ready to be led and guide other at the same time.

  27. Courtney Green says:

    I feel like my leadership style is in between theory X and Y. This is because I think in order to accomplish a task you need goals, determination, and occasionally a leader to help everyone stay motivated and on the right track. However, sometimes theory X can seem controlling. Theory Y is also good because it allows followers to have a larger role in the decision making process. They have more responsibility and are less controlled.

  28. Patrick Lawrence says:

    I relate closest to Theory Y, but I can still relate to Theory X in a sense. All people are different so their styles of leadership are never the same. The book gives examples of where each is beneficial which speaks to the idea that both theories hold value. When you find someone a task or subject that they are passionate about, they will work on it or need for motivation. I think that each person has this passion and it’s a responsibility of a leader to help find it. Sometimes there are times where goals need to be more clearly established.

  29. Crista Watson says:

    I personally relate to Theory Y because I truly believe that humans have the innate capability to be self motivated and strive to achieve a goal for their own personal matters. People like to work, they like to be doing things, and be involved. People are motivated by different things and if someone is truly determined they will work hard to achieve that goal.

  30. Jerry Huang says:

    Theory Y and Theory X values are all situational in nature where people will act a certain way in different situations. It is foolish to go to extremes with saying which one is most accurate or beneficial as either side will be shown as true with different cultures.

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