MIT professor Douglas McGregor [1] developed two theories to describe motivation and management styles based on the beliefs of the respective leaders: Theory X and Theory Y [2].

Theory X is based on pessimistic assumptions. Theory X managers believe that employees …
… dislike work
… are lazy
… dislike responsibility
… need to be commanded
… need to be controlled
… need to be punished to be more productive
… have to be directed to do things they don’t enjoy
… have to be directed on how to do things

Theory Y is based on optimistic assumptions. Theory Y managers believe that employees …
… like work
… are creative
… seek responsibility
… want to be involved
… can think for themselves
… can make decisions
… share ownership of tasks
… will find work more rewarding if given responsibility
… will enjoy work when given a variety of tasks
… have good ideas

Now you surely ask, why I sum up those old theories? Because I believe that this is an important one. When it comes to other models of management, leadership and organizing work, it’s often not that important which management style someone is choosing – it’s more important which mindset that manager has. And those theories perfectly sum up the two extremes.


Literature / Further Reading
[1] Douglas McGregor @ Wikipedia

[2] Theory X and Theory Y @ Wikipedia
[3] Blog post on the topic @ Lithespeed