Exploring the Country Club Leadership Style With Examples

The country club leadership style is a people-focused management approach that prioritizes relationships and satisfaction over tasks and results. Leaders exhibiting this style aim to create a positive, relaxed environment for employees.

Country club leaders focus on making work fun and keeping team members happy and content. They have a strong desire to be liked and avoid conflict or difficult decisions that may upset others. Maintaining morale is viewed as more important than productivity or achievement.

This leadership style gets its name from the country club atmosphere it tries to cultivate – laidback, congenial, and focused on comfort. Leaders act more like club managers trying to please their members than bosses driving performance. They want employees to enjoy their jobs and feel part of a team.

Characteristics of Country Club Leaders

Country club leaders are focused on developing close relationships and making sure everyone feels included and happy. They put a high priority on the emotional needs and satisfaction of team members over concrete objectives and results.

Some key characteristics of the country club leadership style:

  • They are people-oriented, with a strong desire to be liked. Country club leaders care deeply about maintaining positive relationships.
  • They aim to create a friendly, relaxed environment. There is often a social, “club-like” atmosphere where people feel comfortable.
  • Additionally, they tend to be excellent listeners who make employees feel heard. They are empathetic and supportive.
  • They avoid exerting authority or control. Country club leaders give team members freedom and are reluctant to be firm.
  • They prioritize consensus and harmony. There is an effort to keep everyone happy by avoiding conflict.
  • Furthermore, they are reluctant to give negative feedback and shy away from difficult decisions that might upset people.
  • Results and deadlines take a backseat to keep things positive. There is more concern for morale than productivity.
  • They rely heavily on personal charm and popularity to influence people rather than assertiveness.

Overall, the defining trait of country club leaders is their focus on relationships over concrete results and their desire to keep the environment friendly and harmonious. They excel at connecting with people but may struggle to drive outcomes.

Blake and Mouton’s Managerial Grid Model

The Managerial Grid Model, developed by leadership experts Robert Blake and Jane Mouton, identifies five leadership styles based on the leader’s focus and concern for people and production.

The country club leadership style falls in the middle of the grid, with a moderate focus on both people and production. This style reflects a desire to keep people happy and maintain positive relationships. At the same time, there is some focus on getting work done, although leaders are flexible and willing to compromise production goals to keep morale high.

In the model, country club leaders are characterized as having adequate organizational performance and mediocre employee morale and engagement. There is just enough focus on production to keep the organization stable. But the leader’s higher concern for people means employees aren’t pushed very hard and instead are given a lot of latitude.

Overall, the country club leadership style seeks to balance results with providing a friendly, comfortable work environment. It aims to avoid the extremes of being too authoritarian or too relaxed. Country club leaders want to create a happy medium between controlling employees and focusing solely on their needs.

Pros of Country Club Leadership Style

like, facebook, social media

The country club leadership style leads to happy employees and a positive work environment. Leaders who adopt this style make employees’ emotional needs a top priority and focus on creating a supportive, collaborative, and enjoyable workplace.

Some key benefits of this leadership style include:

  • High employee morale and job satisfaction. Country club leaders develop close relationships with team members, show genuine care and concern for their well-being, and make work fun. This fulfills employees’ social and esteem needs.
  • Strong sense of community. Frequent team-building activities, social events, and a familial environment foster strong bonds between employees. This satisfies the need for belongingness.
  • Low turnover. Employees are less likely to leave an organization where they feel happy, valued, and part of a community. The country club style therefore promotes talent retention.
  • Reduced stress. A positive organizational climate and supportive leadership decrease workplace stress. Country club leaders try to make work relaxing and pressure-free.
  • Work-life balance. Leaders are flexible and understanding of employees’ personal lives. They promote reasonable workloads and hours to prevent burnout.

By making employees’ happiness a key concern, country club leaders succeed in cultivating an enjoyable, collaborative, and supportive work culture. This leads to satisfied and engaged team members.

Cons of Country Club Leadership Style

thumb, down, dislike

Country club leadership style has some potential downsides that leaders should be aware of. The most notable cons of this style are:

  • Lack of direction – Country club leaders tend to avoid imposing their will or pushing people towards clear objectives. While this creates a pleasant work environment, it can also result in ambiguity about priorities and goals. Without a clear sense of direction, some employees may feel aimless or uncertain about what they should be working on.
  • Low productivity – With the emphasis on people over results, country club leaders sometimes fail to provide enough focus on execution and output. Team members may socialize more than they work. Without accountability for hitting targets, performance can suffer. Some employees may take advantage of the relaxed environment and not put in their full effort.

To mitigate these potential weaknesses, country club leaders need to occasionally step up and provide direction when needed. They should ensure that social needs don’t completely override the necessity of productivity and results. With the right balance, leaders can maintain the benefits of a positive, collaborative culture while still accomplishing business objectives.

When Is Country Club Style Appropriate?

The Country Club leadership style tends to work best in social or recreational environments where maintaining positive relationships is a high priority. For example, at a country club, athletic club, or social club, members are there to relax, socialize, and enjoy facilities and activities. They want leaders who make them feel welcome, heard, and happy.

Country Club leaders focus on providing an enjoyable member experience. They aim to create a friendly, relaxed, and supportive environment. This style can help attract and retain members who want to feel like part of a community.

At country clubs and similar organizations, production metrics and hard results often take a backseat to member satisfaction and engagement. Country Club leaders recognize that members don’t want an authoritarian manager cracking the whip. They want someone who listens to their needs and makes sure they feel valued.

Examples of Country Club Leaders

Country club leaders are typically found managing exclusive clubs and communities. Here are some examples:

  • Club managers – These leaders oversee day-to-day operations at country clubs. They ensure high standards are maintained in facilities, services, and member experience. While focused on member satisfaction, they also have to meet club objectives.
  • Community directors – In private communities like golf estates, the community director serves as a country club-style leader. They focus on building relationships with residents and providing services that enhance their lifestyle. This involves managing amenities, events, communications, staff, and contractors.
  • Head professionals – At many country clubs, the golf pro, tennis pro, or other head professional takes on a country club leadership role. They often oversee their entire department and staff. Their goal is to provide exceptional instruction, programs, and experiences for members.
  • Event planners – Country clubs host frequent social events, parties, weddings, and more. The event planner is focused on relationship-building with members to understand their needs and deliver highly personalized, memorable events. Their passion for service creates happy members.
  • Concierge staff – Front-of-house staff like concierges personify country club leadership. They develop close relationships with members to fulfill requests and anticipate needs. This could include restaurant reservations, travel arrangements, or specialty gifts.

The common thread is these leaders prioritize member relationships over tasks. They lead with service, emotional intelligence, and human connection. This exemplifies the relationship focus of the country club leadership style.

Country Club Leadership vs. Other Styles

The country club leadership style differs from other common leadership styles in several key ways:

  • Autocratic leadership focuses strictly on task completion and productivity with little concern for people. Country club leaders emphasize relationships over tasks.
  • Democratic leadership aims to involve team members in decision-making. Country club leaders make most decisions themselves with a focus on harmony.
  • Laissez-faire leadership takes a completely hands-off approach. Country club leaders stay involved to nurture relationships.
  • The transformational leadership style inspires change through vision and motivation. Country club leaders prefer to maintain the status quo.
  • Transactional leadership rewards performance and addresses problems as they arise. Country club leaders give less critical feedback to avoid conflict.
  • Servant leadership puts team members’ needs first. Country club leaders prioritize social connections but aren’t solely focused on serving others.
  • The coaching leadership style develops people through mentoring. Country club leaders care about relationships but don’t necessarily coach team members.

So while some overlap exists, the country club style is distinct in its emphasis on positive social connections and harmony over tasks, change, or mentoring. Leaders who excel with a country club approach create a friendly and relaxed team environment.

Developing As A Country Club Leader

career path, keyhole, business

To develop as a Country Club leader, you must focus on building strong relationships and developing self-awareness. Here are some tips:

  • Make relationship-building a priority. Get to know each of your team members on a personal level and understand what motivates them. Show sincere interest in their lives outside of work. Make time for one-on-one meetings to build trust.
  • Improve your emotional intelligence. Work on identifying your own emotions as well as reading the emotions of others. Learn what makes you tick and what triggers reactions in you or your team. Self-awareness is key.
  • Lead with empathy. Put yourself in your team members’ shoes to understand their perspective. Validate their feelings and needs. Make them feel cared for.
  • Create an open and relaxed environment. Country Club leaders focus on making work enjoyable. Encourage casual interactions. Allow flexibility when possible. Make time for team bonding.
  • Communicate openly and frequently. Share information, provide context for decisions, and explain your reasoning. Listen carefully and ask for input. Frequent communication builds connection.
  • Develop coaching skills. Guide each team member’s growth by understanding their strengths, weaknesses, and goals. Provide supportive feedback. Empower them to develop.
  • Model integrity. Demonstrate consistency between your words and actions. Make decisions based on shared values. Earn trust by being honest and ethical.
  • Adapt your style when needed. While the Country Club approach focuses on people, task-related directives are sometimes necessary. Adjust your style to fit the situation.

With a focus on relationships, empathy, openness, and self-awareness, you can become an effective Country Club leader. Supporting your team’s needs helps unlock their full potential.


In summary, the country club leadership style focuses primarily on developing relationships and keeping people content and relaxed. Leaders who adopt this style aim to create a friendly, collaborative environment where team members feel supported.

Some key takeaways:

  • Country club leaders prioritize the needs and happiness of team members over tasks and production goals. They make an effort to get to know people on a personal level.
  • This leadership style works well in situations where maintaining morale and job satisfaction are top concerns. It is less effective when tasks need to get done quickly or efficiency is critical.
  • Leaders should be aware of the potential downsides of overusing a country club style, such as lack of direction, low standards, and poor productivity.
  • To develop as a country club leader, focus on building trust, being approachable, showing empathy, and creating a positive team culture. But also learn to set clear expectations when needed.
  • No one leadership style is universally effective. The best leaders are flexible and able to adjust their approach based on the needs of the situation and team.