Behavioral Models
In the 1st Chapter of Leadership History, we have reviewed the trait theory and the critisism of this theory. In response to that theorists began to research leadership not from the individual point of view but rather to see leadership as a set of behaviors, evaluating the behavior of successful leaders, determining a behavior taxonomy, and identifying broad leadership styles.

Lewin, Lipitt, and White developed in 1939 the seminal work on the influence of leadership styles and performance. The researchers evaluated the performance of groups of eleven-year-old boys under different types of work climate.

In each, the leader exercised his influence regarding the type of

  • group decision making,
  • praise and feedback,
  • project management, as management of group task,

according to the following 3 leadership styles: authoritarian, democratic, free-rein leader (also known as laissez-faire)

Managerial grid model

A graphical representation of the managerial g...

Image via Wikipedia

The managerial grid model was developed by Blake and Mouton in 1964 and they concluded their studies in five different leadership styles (Autocratic or authoritarian style, Participative or democratic style, Laissez-faire or free rein style, Narcissistic leadership, Toxic leadership). The styles are based on the leaders’ concern for people and their concern for goal achievement.

As an example of the new view of leadership, David McClelland has described leadership as the person takes a strong personality with a well-developed positive ego: self-confidence and high self-esteem are useful even essential to lead.
Positive reinforcement Model

B. F. Skinner is the father of behavior modification and developed the concept of positive reinforcement. Positive reinforcement occurs when a positive stimulus is presented in response to a behavior, increasing the likelihood of that behavior in the future.

The use of positive reinforcement is a successful and growing technique used by leaders to motivate and attain desired behaviors from subordinates. Research covering the last 20 years suggests that reinforcement theory has a 17 percent increase in performance.

Additionally, many reinforcement techniques such as the use of praise

  • are inexpensive,
  • providing higher performance for lower costs,
  • increase productivity.

Situational theories

Spencer (1884) said that the times produce the person and not the other way around. This theory assumes that different situations call for different characteristics. Following this theory, no single optimal psychographic profile of a leader exists. “What an individual actually does when acting as a leader is in large part dependent upon characteristics of the situation in which he/she functions.” – explains Spencer

Some theorists started to synthesize the trait and situational approaches. Building upon the research of Lewin, academics began to normalize the descriptive models of leadership climates, defining three leadership styles and identifying which situations each style works better in.

The authoritarian leadership style – approved in periods of crisis but fails to win the “hearts and minds” of followers in day-to-day management;

The democratic leadership style is more adequate in situations that require consensus building;

The laissez-faire leadership style is appreciated for the degree of freedom it provides, but as the leaders do not “take charge”, they can be perceived as a failure in protracted or thorny organizational problems.

Theorists defined the style of leadership as contingent to the situation, which is sometimes classified as contingency theory.

Four contingency leadership theories appear more prominently in recent years:

Fiedler contingency model, situational contingency

He has defined two types of leader:

  1. those who tend to accomplish the task by developing good relationships with the group (relationship-oriented), and
  2. those who have as their prime concern carrying out the task itself (task-oriented).

Fiedler found that task-oriented leaders are more effective in extremely favorable or unfavorable situations, whereas relationship-oriented leaders perform best in situations with intermediate favorability.

Vroom-Yetton decision model

In collaboration with Arthur Jago  they developed together a taxonomy for describing leadership situations, which was used in a decision model where leadership styles were connected to situational variables, defining which approach was more suitable to which situation. This approach was novel because it supported the idea that the same manager could rely on different group decision making approaches depending on the attributes of each situation.

The path-goal theory

It was developed by House, according to him is the meta proposition that leaders, to be effective, engage in behaviors that complement subordinates’ environments and abilities in a manner that compensates for deficiencies and is instrumental to subordinate satisfaction and individual and work unit performance”. The theory identifies four leader behaviors, achievement-oriented, directive, participative, and supportive, that are contingent to the environment factors and follower characteristics. The path-goal model states that the four leadership behaviors are fluid, and that leaders can adopt any of the four depending on what the situation demands. The path-goal model can be classified both as a contingency theory, as it depends on the circumstances, and as a transactional leadership theory, as the theory emphasizes the reciprocity behavior between the leader and the followers.

The Hersey-Blanchard situational theory

The model proposes 4 leadership-styles and four levels of follower-development. For effectiveness, the model posits that the leadership-style must match the appropriate level of follower-development. In this model, leadership behavior becomes a function not only of the characteristics of the leader, but of the characteristics of followers as well.

Functional Leadership Model

Functional leadership theory (Hackman, Walton, McGrat) is a particularly useful theory for addressing specific leader behaviors expected to contribute to organizational or unit effectiveness.

Functional leadership theory has most often been applied to team leadership it has also been effectively applied to broader organizational leadership as well. In summarizing literature on functional leadership: observed five broad functions a leader performs when promoting organization’s effectiveness. These functions include environmental monitoring, organizing subordinate activities, teaching and coaching subordinates, motivating others, and intervening actively in the group’s work.

Transactional leadership and Transformational leadership

Berne first analyzed the relations between a group and its leadership in terms of transactional analyses.

The transactional leader (Burns) is given power to perform certain tasks and reward or punish for the team’s performance. It gives the opportunity to the manager to lead the group and the group agrees to follow his lead to accomplish a predetermined goal in exchange for something else. Power is given to the leader to evaluate, correct, and train subordinates when productivity is not up to the desired level, and reward effectiveness when expected outcome is reached. Idiosyncrasy Credit, first posited by Edward Hollander is one example of a concept closely related to transactional leadership.

The transformational leader (Burns) motivates its team to be effective and efficient. Communication is the base for goal achievement focusing the group on the final desired outcome or goal attainment. This leader is highly visible and uses chain of command to get the job done. Transformational leaders focus on the big picture, needing to be surrounded by people who take care of the details. The leader is always looking for ideas that move the organization to reach the company’s vision.

Functional leadership model

The Neo-emergent leadership theory (from the Oxford school of leadership) espouses that leadership is created through the emergence of information by the leader or other stakeholders, not through the true actions of the leader himself. In other words, the reproduction of information or stories form the basis of the perception of leadership by the majority. It can be contended that the perception of all leaders is created and in fact does not reflect their true leadership qualities at all.


Job performance generally refers to behavior that is expected to contribute to organizational success (Campbell). Campbell identified a number of specific types of performance dimensions; leadership was one of the dimensions that he identified.

The Ontological/Phenomenological Model for Leadership

One of the more recent definitions of leadership comes from Erhard, Jensen, Zaffron, Granger who describe leadership as “an exercise in language that results in the realization of a future that wasn’t going to happen anyway, which future fulfills the concerns of the relevant parties…”. This definition ensures that leadership is talking about the future and includes the fundamental concerns of the relevant parties.

Source: Wikipedia, Lewin, Lipitt, White, Blake, Mouton, McClelland, Skinner, Spencer, Fiedler, Vroom, Yetton, Jago, House, Blanchard, Hackman, Walton, McGrat, Berne, Burns, Hollander, Cazmpbell, Erhard, Jensen, Zaffron, Granger