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Why You Should Try a Behavioral Approach to Leadership

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Why You Should Try a Behavioral Approach to Leadership

Wondering how to foster stronger connections with your team? Curious about strategies to enhance team performance and morale? Learn the behavioral approach to leadership, a proven method that will help you hone your leadership capability. The Co-Active Training Institute offers insights into this transformative model, providing you with tools and techniques to revolutionize your leadership approach. By understanding and implementing behavioral leadership, you can drive team collaboration, boost productivity, and create a positive work environment that thrives on mutual respect and shared goals. Let’s dive in to uncover more insights. 

What Is Behavioral Leadership Theory?

Behavioral leadership theory emphasizes the specific behaviors leaders exhibit, rather than their innate traits or characteristics. Meaning, it’s not about who leaders inherently are, but what they do. This approach stands in contrast to trait theories, which center on inherent qualities, and contingency theories that argue leadership effectiveness is situational. Within the behavioral framework, leadership behaviors are typically categorized into two main types: task-oriented behaviors, focusing on tasks and results, and people-oriented behaviors, which prioritize team welfare and open communication.

Behavioral Theory of Leadership Origins

The origins of behavioral leadership theory are rooted in studies from the 1940s and 1950s, with institutions like Ohio State University and the University of Michigan leading the way in examining leader behaviors. A significant contribution to this field was Blake and Mouton’s 1964 Managerial Grid, which categorized leadership styles based on a balance between concern for people and production. This marked a departure from the previously dominant trait approach, which centered on inherent leadership traits, shifting the focus to behaviors that can be taught and learned.

Behavioral Theory of Leadership Examples

By examining real-world examples, we can gain a clearer understanding of how this theory manifests in various leadership styles. Observing these leaders can offer relatable lessons, helping aspiring leaders see the practical application of behavioral principles in everyday leadership scenarios.

Task-Oriented Leaders

Leaders in this category prioritize accomplishing tasks and achieving goals. Steve Jobs, with his unwavering commitment to Apple’s product excellence, is a classic example. Similarly, Elon Musk’s relentless drive for innovation at Tesla and SpaceX showcases this leadership style. Their approach often leads to rapid advancements and breakthroughs in their respective industries.

Relationship-Oriented Leaders

These leaders prioritize interpersonal relationships and team dynamics. Richard Branson of Virgin Group is a shining example of this style. Beyond just business metrics, he consistently underscores the significance of team cohesion, believing that a united and motivated team is the backbone of any successful enterprise. Such leaders often foster a positive work environment, leading to higher employee satisfaction and retention.

Participative Leaders

Leaders of this kind value collective decision-making. Satya Nadella, the CEO of Microsoft, exemplifies this approach. Rather than making top-down decisions, he frequently consults with his team, valuing diverse perspectives. This inclusive approach not only garners respect from team members but also ensures that decisions are holistic and consider multiple viewpoints.

Benefits of Behavioral Leadership

Behavioral leadership emphasizes the importance of actions and behaviors in guiding a team or organization. By focusing on what leaders do rather than the inherent traits they might possess, this approach offers a range of advantages that can significantly enhance organizational dynamics.


This approach allows leaders to adjust and modify their behaviors to meet the specific needs of their team or project. It offers a level of adaptability that’s not found in trait-based leadership theories. This adaptability means leaders can quickly respond to changing circumstances without being rigid in their approach. It fosters a dynamic leadership style that can navigate the complexities of modern business environments.


Leadership isn’t just about inborn qualities. Behavioral leadership emphasizes that with the right training and development programs, leadership skills can be cultivated and refined. This perspective democratizes leadership, suggesting that anyone with the right dedication and training can develop into an effective leader. It’s an empowering approach that encourages continuous learning and growth.

Emphasis on Action

Behavioral leadership places a strong focus on tangible actions. It provides leaders with clear steps and strategies to enhance their effectiveness in various situations. By centering on actionable behaviors, leaders have a roadmap to success, allowing them to measure and track their progress. It’s a proactive approach that encourages leaders to take charge and make impactful decisions.

Enhanced Employee Relations

By being adaptable in their approach, leaders can build stronger bonds with their teams. This not only boosts team morale but also enhances loyalty and productivity. When employees feel understood and valued by their leaders, they’re more likely to be engaged, motivated, and committed to the organization’s goals. Strong leader-employee relationships also foster a positive workplace culture, leading to higher job satisfaction.

Improved Performance

Research indicates that when leaders strike a balance between task-focused and relationship-focused behaviors, their teams tend to perform better and achieve more. This balance ensures that while tasks are being completed efficiently, the well-being of the team is also taken into consideration. Teams led by such balanced leaders often report higher levels of collaboration, innovation, and overall job satisfaction.

Co-Active's Approach to Leadership

Modern leaders, navigating ever-evolving landscapes, need a leadership style that marries task accomplishments with team well-being. Co-Active's leadership model champions this multidimensional approach. Recognizing the need for adaptability, Co-Active Leadership empowers leaders to tailor their leadership style to any situation. Dive deeper into effective leadership and explore our leadership training program to harness the full potential of behavioral leadership.

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Co-Active Training Institute (CTI)

Since 1992, CTI has been working with coaches and leaders around the world, helping them navigate toward stronger relationships, integral solutions, and creating meaningful impact in the world. The work we do goes beyond training. Through ground-breaking teaching methods and a global network of world-class faculty and partners, the Co-Active difference delivers contextually relevant and experiential learning that ignites transformation and a life-long journey developing the deepest expression of leadership in each human being.

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