I colleague recently asked: “I invite you to share more of your structure-based approaches that you have used to convert or help each type (theory X and theory Y). I would like to learn more.”
To which I replied: The “structure” I referred to is clarity about expectations, clarity about who is going to do what, clarity about who is going to make which decisions and how. This type of organized behavioral approach is helpful whether one tends to over-control (as is likely if leaning towards McGregor’s Theory X) or under-control (as is likely if leaning towards McGregor’s Theory Y). Theory X managers need to get clear in order to empower their subordinates, Theory Y managers need to get clear in order to lead, so it really doesn’t matter to me which type of manager I’m working with, because everyone has strengths and blind spots. Of course, an extreme Theory X person (such as Hitler) probably wouldn’t seek help, nor would an extreme Theory Y, who would probably put all their faith in self-organizing systems (anti-leadership).