The Leader-Member Exchange Theory
Getting the Best From all Team Members
(Also known as LMX or Vertical Dyad Linkage Theory)
Meaning of LMX
This situation is at the heart of the Leader-Member Exchange Theory. This theory, also known as LMX or the Vertical Dyad Linkage Theory, explores how leaders and managers develop relationships with team members; and it explains how those relationships can either contribute to growth or hold people back.
Intro to LMX
Understanding the Theory
The Leader-Member Exchange Theory first emerged in the 1970s. It focuses on the relationship that develops between managers and members of their teams.
The theory states that all relationships between managers and subordinates go through three stages. These are:
Let's look at each stage in greater detail.
Role-taking occurs when team members first join the group. Managers use this time to assess new members' skills and abilities. 2. Role-Making
New team members then begin to work on projects and tasks as part of the team. In this stage, managers generally expect that new team members will work hard, be loyal and prove trustworthy as they get used to their new role.
The theory says that, during this stage, managers sort new team members (often subconsciously) into one of two groups.
In-Group - if team members prove themselves loyal, trustworthy and skilled, they're put into the In-Group. This group is made up of the team members that the manager trusts the most. Managers give this group most of their attention, providing challenging and interesting work, and offering opportunities for additional training and advancement. This group also gets more one-to-one time with the manager. Often, people in this group have a similar personality and work-ethic to their manager. Out-Group - if team members betray the trust of the manager, or prove that they're unmotivated or incompetent, they're put into the Out-Group. This group's work is often restricted and unchallenging. Out-Group members tend to have less access to the manager, and often don't receive opportunities for growth or advancement.
During this last phase, routines between team members and their managers are established.
In-Group team members work hard to maintain the good opinion of their managers, by showing trust, respect, empathy, patience, and persistence. ##can be used for outcome that effect the organization
Out-Group members may start to dislike or distrust their managers. Because it's so hard to move out of the Out-Group once the perception has been established, Out-Group members may have to change departments or organizations in order to "start over." Once team members have been classified, even subconsciously, as In-Group or Out-Group, that classification affects how their managers relate to them from then on, and it can become self-fulfilling.
For instance, In-Group team members are often seen as rising stars and the manager trusts them to work and perform at a high level. This is also the group that the manager talks to most, offering support and advice, and they're given the best opportunities to test their skills and grow. So, of course, they're more likely to develop in their roles.
This also holds true for the Out-Group. The manager spends little, if any, time trying to support and develop this group. They receive few challenging assignments or opportunities for training and advancement. And, because they're never tested, they have little chance to change the manager's opinion. Using the Theory
You can use the Leader-Member Exchange Theory to be aware of how you perceive members of your own team.
To do this, follow these steps:
1. Identify Your Out-Group
Chances are, you know who's in your Out-Group already. Take a moment to note their names down.