In the past, it was widespread the belief that leadership was an innate individual quality, the previlege of a limited number of people and - as a consequence of this belief - numerous researches were carried out aiming at identifying the universal characteristics of leadership, with the aim of allowing the company to identify potential managers or leader with greater lucidity. The poor results obtained from these studies pushed research into other more profitable directions. The scholars of the Institute of social research of the University of Michigan, for example, chose a different approach from that of other universities, focusing on the forefront boss (the managerial executives), with reference to his attitude and behavior, in order to observe the influence on the productivity of its employees.
They discovered a new datum, leaders that is the "employee-centered" capo “centrato sul dipendente”, considerava suo prioritario compito orientare i suoi uomini, piuttosto che accelerare la produzione.; con metodi di comando che dimostravano la tendenza a dare direttive di massima ai loro sottoposti su come dover eseguire il lavoro, lasciando agli stessi la decisione di come fare. Essi quindi, non esercitavano uno stretto controllo su come il lavoro veniva eseguito, ma partivano dal presupposto che i loro uomini fossero sufficientemente responsabili e capaci, per mandare avanti il loro compito, senza qualcuno che li stesse eccessivamente a controllare.
Un capo leaders who generally operated within groups with high productivity, while those "centered on production" generally ran groups with low productivity. The “employee-centered” boss considered his priority task to guide his men, rather than to accelerate production.
On the contrary, a boss was evaluated as "centered on production" if he considered his priority task to carry out work and, consequently, if he considered people as means to "do", rather than intelligent and responsible human beings with needs and emotions very similar to his own.