Behaviour theory: developing  your leadership skills as a student (1)
The writer

Behaviour theory: developing your leadership skills as a student (1)

A journey into the financial frontier with Korsi Dzokoto, Managing Director of Waxson Advisors. Building on our previous discussion on Trait Theory, which highlights the inherent characteristics of effective leaders, we now shift our focus to Behavioural theories of leadership. Unlike Trait Theory, which emphasizes innate qualities, Behavioural theories focus on the actions and behaviours of leaders. 


These theories suggest that leadership is a set of learned behaviours that can be developed and refined over time. Understanding these behaviours is crucial for students looking to assess and enhance their own leadership skills. 

Let's delve into some key theories and models that shed light on leadership behaviours and their impact.

1.    McGregor’s Theory X and Theory Y

McGregor's Theory X and Theory Y provide contrasting views on the nature of employees and how managers should approach their leadership style. Theory X assumes that employees are inherently lazy, dislike work, and need to be controlled and directed. In contrast, Theory Y assumes that employees are self-motivated, enjoy work, and can be trusted to take responsibility.

Understanding these theories can help students reflect on their own assumptions about people and how these assumptions influence their leadership approach. Students can learn to adopt a more Theory Y mindset, which emphasizes empowerment, trust, and collaboration, leading to a more positive and effective leadership style.

2.    Black and Mouton Managerial Grid

The Black and Mouton Managerial Grid is a tool that helps identify different leadership styles based on the balance between concern for people (relationship-oriented behaviour) and concern for production (task-oriented behaviour). 

The grid categorizes leadership styles into five positions:

•    Impoverished Management: Low concern for both people and production.

•    Country Club Management: High concern for people, low concern for production.

•    Organization (Wo)Man: Balanced concern for both people and production.

•    Authority-Obedience Management: High concern for production, low concern for people.

•    Team Management: High concern for both people and production.

Students can use this model to assess their own leadership style and identify areas for improvement.

They can strive to achieve a balanced approach that considers both the needs of their team members and the goals of the organization.

3.    Tannenbaum and Schmidt (Leadership Continuum)

Tannenbaum and Schmidt's Leadership Continuum suggests that leaders should choose their leadership style based on the level of control they want to maintain versus the level of freedom they want to give to their team members. 

The continuum ranges from a highly autocratic style (Tell) to a highly participative style (Join).

Students can learn to assess situational factors such as the competence and commitment of their team members to determine the most appropriate leadership style. 

By adapting their style to suit the situation, students can enhance their effectiveness as leaders and build stronger relationships with their team members.

4.    Hersey and Blanchard’s Situational Leadership

Hersey and Blanchard's Situational Leadership theory proposes that effective leaders should adjust their leadership style based on the readiness or development level of their followers. The theory identifies four levels of follower readiness:

•    Enthusiastic Beginner: Low competence, high commitment (S1: Directing).


•    Disillusioned Learner: Some competence, low commitment (S2: Coaching).

•    Capable but Cautious Contributor: Moderate to high competence, variable commitment (S3: Supporting).

•    Self-Reliant Achiever: High competence, high commitment (S4: Delegating).

5.    Fiedler’s Model of Contingency Theory

Fiedler's Contingency Theory proposes that effective leadership depends on the match between a leader's style and the characteristics of the situation. Fiedler identified two types of leadership styles: relationship-oriented and task-oriented.


The theory suggests that leaders should assess the favourability of the situation based on three factors:

•    Leader-Member Relations: The degree of trust and confidence between leaders and their team members.

•    Task Structure: The extent to which tasks are clear and well-defined.

•    Position Power: The amount of authority and influence a leader has over their team.


Fiedler argued that leaders have a relatively fixed leadership style and that certain situations are more favourable for one style over the other. 

For example, in situations with high leader-member relations and task structure, a relationship-oriented style may be more effective, while in situations with low leader-member relations and task structure, a task-oriented style may be more appropriate.

6.    House and Mitchell’s Path-Goal Theory

House and Mitchell's Path-Goal Theory is based on the Expectancy-Valence theory of motivation and suggests that leaders can motivate their followers by clarifying the path to goal achievement. The theory identifies four main types of leadership behaviour:

•    Directive: Providing clear instructions and guidance on how to achieve goals.

•    Supportive: Offering encouragement, support, and assistance to followers.

•    Participative: Involving followers in the decision-making process and considering their input.

•    Achievement-Oriented: Setting challenging goals and expressing confidence in followers' ability to achieve them.

Leaders can choose the most appropriate behaviour based on the needs and characteristics of their followers and the context of the situation. By adopting the right leadership behaviour, leaders can increase followers' motivation and effectiveness.

7.    Transactional vs. Transformational Leadership

Transactional leadership focuses on maintaining stability, order, and hierarchy within an organization.

Leaders use contingent rewards, management by exception (both active and passive), and a laissez-faire approach when it comes to overtaking responsibility that is not directly assigned to their task.

In contrast, transformational leadership is associated with change and innovation.

Transformational leaders use their charisma, emotional intelligence, inspirational motivation, intellectual stimulation, and individual consideration to engage the hearts, minds, and emotions of their followers. 

They act as change agents by recognizing the need for change, creating a vision for change, and implementing the change effectively. To be continued….

Connect With Us : 0242202447 | 0551484843 | 0266361755 | 059 199 7513 |

Like what you see?

Hit the buttons below to follow us, you won't regret it...