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LAC Leadership Reflection Essay

I choose to investigate the Douglas McGregor Theory of X and Y


Leadership Style. McGregors theory was originally used to develop
managerial leadership in an industrial setting, but can be adapted to a more
universal ideology. His theory includes two categories of leadership
approaches (Shafritz 154).
The first, X theory, states that managers must direct, motivate, control
and modify workers actions. This approach assumes that workers are
inherently unambitious and will avoid responsibility unless directed. This type
of worker is indifferent to the needs and purpose of the organization.
Therefore, the leadership model requires a hands-on, authoritarian manager,
who utilizes control and the threat of punishment (McGregor 166).This style
is not often necessary in the Learning Assistance Center (LAC) as the
students normally book an appointment of their own free will, however the
LAC does also work with academic alert students. These students go to
tutoring under the threat of expulsion from the university. They havent met
certain academic requirements and the university assumes they will avoid
responsibility of improving their grades unless otherwise directed. For
example, I received a repeat student for German tutoring who was on
academic alert. He seemed disinterested in the session and asked if we could
simply work on his homework. A type X leader would assume that the
student is inherently lazy or unintelligent. They might enforce the fact that
doing homework would get the student and tutor in trouble and then direct
the session towards a seemingly productive vocabulary review without
asking if the student would like to work on something else. The downside to
these approaches is that the student is never motivated to go beyond what
is asked. The leader believes they are incapable of responsibility so they
have no motivation to take any on. I think it is important for the tutor to
understand that there may be other extenuating circumstances that have
lead this student to be put on alert. In my sessions I tried to allow for the
utmost autonomy with academic alert students. I want to put the power to
succeed back in their hands by offering encouragement and discussing
benefits to their immediate and future academic growth. Usually I try to start
at a peer level and grow into the tutoring leadership position. This style is
more strongly correlated with the second category of leadership approaches,
Theory Y.
Theory Y states that people are generally hardworking. They are
motivated by the intrinsic value of work and effort is natural. These types of
workers have the capacity for ingenuity and self-direction. This leadership
method requires a manager to fully utilize the workers intellectual potential
and obtain commitment through rewards (Madueke 47). I often see this type

of student, as a math and science tutor, amongst those trying to attend


graduate school. They have a strong need to go above expectations. They
are attending tutoring not because they are struggling in a class, but
because they want to change that B range grade to an A. In particular, I
received a lot of these types of students as a tutor for organic chemistry. For
them I recommended creative challenges such as making their own
diagrams or reaction webs. For one student who was struggling with
substitution reactions, I had her look a table up on the internet and reformat
it with at least two examples outside of the tutoring session. In a different
session a student told me she had trouble translating knowledge from her
notes to test questions so I guided her in how to start creating a reaction
web summary. These students were dedicated to the learning of the subject
material due to short term incentive of a good grade and the long term
motivation to get into graduate school and obtain a desired occupation.
These rewards gave the tutoring session meaning and a sense of purpose so
they were more willing to work out a complex problem. My job was to
evaluate their ability level and challenge them to develop their intellectual
curiosity based on that assessment.
Overall I believe the participative or Y-theory was more constructive
and beneficial to my students than the authoritarian or X-theory. Perhaps its
the demographic of young, up and coming college students with a large
potential and capacity for ingenuity, but based on my experience the
possibility for reward is a more meaningful and effective leadership strategy
than the threat of punishment.

Citations:
Madueke, Chizoba. Regressive Leadership and Governance: A State of
Anarchy. Xlibris
Corporation (2010): 47
McGregor, Douglas. "The human side of enterprise." New York 21 (1960):
166.
Shafritz, J. Jay, Yong Jang, Ott. Classics of Organization Theory. Cengage
Learning (2015): 154