Behavioral Leadership Theory

Understanding leadership theories helps any leader to be successful in their supervision and leadership duties, mainly if teamwork or a group of people are involved. Furthermore, comprehending leadership theories aids people in recognizing and incorporating their management practice or approach in their leadership role. One of the leadership theories which includes leadership modification with changing situations or differences in the individuals being managed is the behavioral leadership theory (Blanchard, 2018).

Governance is a process of power, and at some stage in life, everybody can become a leader. Successful leaders are those who care about people and are responsible and well organized. Therefore, this essay will concentrate on behavioral motivational theory, its history, ethical and legal considerations, and biblical illustrations related to the theory.

In behaviorism, the primary consideration is that human behaviors are altered by changes which can be detected and evaluated. Behaviorism is composed of an extensive array of positive and negative motivational strategies which are developed through comprehensive research over time. These approaches cause behaviorism to be viewed as a scientific psychological discipline, which has had plenty of concerns about the ethics of past research (Rieger, 2017). In long-term situations, not all of the motivational strategies behind behaviorism are successful. Therefore, some will need adjustments to ensure consistent organizational practices.

This is why behavioral theory is an ideal philosophy of motivation to be explored as a habitual desire to do good when incorporated into situational leadership (Mea & Sims, 2019). Behaviorists agree that employee motivation is less internal and sustained more intentionally through positive leadership, which encourages behavioral and productivity improvements (Mkandawire, 2017). Hence, people in management should use operant conditioning in an attempt for them to build leadership roles and efficiently use behaviorism leadership theory.

To enhance or degrade voluntary actions, the characteristic of behaviorism exploits positive and negative consequences. Conditioning and improving cognizant habits is an act which requires particular methods to accomplish. The theory concludes that attitudes can be formed by a scheme of rewards and punishments which, by strengthening more constructive acts, aims to abolish malicious behavior (Sekar Gondo & Prasetya, 2017). The basic concept of the behaviorism leadership theory is that there is no exact way to lead. The leadership model is based upon the desire and skill of the team being led, and the mission or role which has to be achieved (Blanchard, 2018). Successful leadership should also apply to the mission and readily be adaptable to the individuals being led dependent on their behaviors.

In essence, this determines the theory and its underlying concept. All leaders have different desired ways of governing people, and which is divided into four styles: supporting, coaching, delegating, or directing (Yasir & Mohamad, 2016). Nevertheless, authentic leadership does not use the approach that one is most confident with, but rather recognizes the type of leadership which team members want. It is the concept of servant leadership, which is the foundation of the teaching paradigm which Jesus used in the Bible, and the perfect method for motivational behaviorism.

Maturity Levels

Before considering leadership styles, people in charge should concentrate on the individual members of the team. In conjunction with the management style, which may be used, the team members’ degree of maturity plays a significant role in determining the leadership style to be used. This applies primarily to the level of experience and competence of the members of the group. According to Blanchard (2018), team members could be divided into four phases of progression, which should be considered when choosing a leadership style.

These are mainly enthusiastic novice (D1), disillusioned learner (D2), competent yet careful performer (D3), and self-reliant achiever (D4) (Blanchard, 2018). D1 refers to team members who have a high degree of dedication but lack the expertise and skills needed. D2 applies to those with specific competence but with weaknesses which lead to a low degree of commitment. D3 refers to the team members who are increasingly becoming professional, but the degree of commitment differs. The last stage is D4, in which the members are highly qualified and have the requisite dedication.

Behaviorism theory also defines four fundamental leadership types: guiding, coaching, helping, and delegating, which are revamped variations of the above developed progression phases. Directing includes providing orders and specifications as to what needs to be achieved. Coaching includes leading and encouraging the members of the group (Blanchard, 2018). Supporting is more encouraging than guiding, and ultimately, delegating emphasizes hands-off where people in the team have full obligation to create and execute decisions. This last one, is most applicable at the starting of the process, where the group lacks the necessary skills.

Though as the project progresses and the group members become more qualified and experienced, the leader should be flexible enough to change the management style to the next maturity level. Therefore, the behavioral theory considers both the complexities of maturity and the challenge of determining the most suitable leadership style in a specific scenario (Cafferky, 2017). In any given case, if an outline has been developed, the motivational principle of behaviorism can be initiated.


Behaviorism is best represented in Matthew 25:14-15, where a master set out on a journey and delegated his riches to his servants. He gave five bags of gold to the first servant, two bags to the second, and one bag to the third and last one, each as per his capacity. The first two characters sold their gold and doubled their savings. The third one hid the money out of fear. When the master came back, the first two employees were “promoted” and provided with more responsibilities, while the third servant was “fired,” and his gold was given to the first worker. The verse is a perfect picture of how professions work and the development of adherents through behavioral leadership. It is a real expression of how occupations function and the development of followers through behavioral leadership. Everyone begins in a different position in their career, but the person’s evaluation of their abilities and potential to conquer adversity makes them succeed (Mauer et al., 2017). The servants were not matched against each other, but the same orders were given to all of them, and their skills were used in various ways.

Due to anxiousness, shyness, and lack of exposure to new experiences, many people conceal their talents (Mkandawire, 2017). It can be highly effective if these abilities are not withheld, and the areas of development are focused on by these persons. Success stories are readily available for those who have begun at the bottom of the ladder and have progressed to become great leaders, and these tales have always served as encouragement to upcoming leaders. Behavioral leaders are also cautious in using these talents and creating potential front-runners for organizations.

Positive Reinforcement

To repeat healthy behaviors, the same good traits should receive favorable response. This is most important to David’s reward for battling against Goliath. Jonathan son of King Saul spoke highly of David to his father. He told him not to kill or even hurt David, because he had done nothing wrong against him, but instead, David had risked his life by killing Goliath, for the sole purpose of saving the Israel nation, and which indeed greatly benefited Saul. After listening to Jonathan, Saul took an oath promising that as long as he was still alive, he would never harm David in any way. In this case, after the work David had done for the king, Jonathan was not willing to let him be killed. Jonathan suggests that God chose David, and the king is only glorified by God in his place.

Although conventional incentive systems are not as extreme as this life and death example, they may offer a theoretical rationale for reward-driven human behavior (Itri et al., 2019). Leaders should search for ways to improve the behavior of their subordinates significantly. Such an engagement brings a sense of evaluation of the team’s success reflected on the management. Leaders are not necessarily meant to be at the forefront, but they are always supposed to be in a position to illustrate their team’s rightful merits.

Negative Reinforcement

In general, if unpleasant behavior is accompanied by discomfort or irritation, it might not be replicated. In Numbers 13-14, twelve scouts from twelve tribes are sent by Moses to explore Canaan and to report whether the lands were fertile and whether there was fruit. Just two spies had a good report on their return. The other ten, nevertheless, provided false report based on their opinion. In response, only the first two agents were sent back to Canaan to resume their investigation. Punishment after intervention changes actions, and therefore, the most common time when negative behavior happens is when bad news is not needed (Itri et al., 2019).

The secret to communicating bad news is to create a straightforward, factual, and concise message that behavioral leaders can respond to. Clear messaging sets out clear objectives, leading to a reduction in dissatisfaction.

Teams can withstand unfortunate news if they trust the message, but the lack of consistent communicating results in need for corrective control, which could be real or imagined negative reinforcement. In the truth of this scripture, God had prepared the enemies of the people of Moses by placing terror and anxiety in them when the spies were observed. By eliminating the ten unreliable agents’ negative actions, the risk of future false reports was reduced.


Most people will avoid executing an ambitious act if there is no reward for it. These differences need to be resolved to build well-rounded leaders in an atmosphere where change is the only constant (Mdluli & Makhupe, 2017). Samson’s tale in Judges 15-16 is an indication of extinction which can be faced if its popularity is not ethically exploited. God gave Samson immense power, and rather than using this resource for good, it was used for self-satisfaction. In addition to this selfishness, Samson violated the vow of God and Nazirite. This is an example of how performance causes tension and stress. Stress is an indicator which defines organizational limits, and these limitations do not mean that the target is not attainable, but that strategies can be changed.

There is also a need to adjust structure or approach during difficult times. If the company is overwhelmed, there is a need to reset or reconfigure and add resources or contextual leaders to cope with the stress. When an organization expands, and there is no joint expansion of the plan to accommodate unforeseen growth, the potential could fail within the entity.

As a team leader, the Human Dignity-Centered Paradigm must be used for guiding principles in the creation of teams by developing an ethos for their organization (Mea & Sims, 2019). Developing such an ethos helps organizations be less vulnerable to harmful and immoral consequences (Cote, 2017).

Organizational strategies and manuals cannot cover all circumstances in which a leader may be confronted with during his career, or once they are being been enrolled for the leadership role. There is no complete description of the person being recruited since their behavior has not yet been noticed. They introduce themselves in the best way, and the work offer is dependent on a resume and a brief dialogue during the interview. This can lead to a leader’s long-term growth or a rise in the turnover of the role employed. Organizational achievements can be as overwhelming as failures; they can turn the leader into a failure, and if he or she fails to change the outcome, they can be disastrous.

There are many more opportunities than the resources can accommodate, and this opportunity can turn into a disadvantage if the company is not prepared, and the leaders cannot adapt. Hiring non-behavioral leaders will not help the organization if they are unable to adjust to organizational alignments. To improve but still retain the new standard of accomplishment, behavioral leaders build on accomplishments.

A good leader is one who can use the principles of natural law to determine whether these rules can be circumvented in the best interests of an entity or its team members. This combination of culture and day-to-day behavior in an ethical manner contributes to improved outcomes in an endlessly repeatable process. For effective teams, the need for ethical servant leaders is the cornerstone. Such leaders’ concerns become all about caring for those in their care. It is a full celebration of human dignity when representatives want to help their team win. By setting goals, managers of tactical reinforcement and strategy implementation will assist their teams with selfless intention.


Behavioral leadership theory demonstrates, in essence, that leadership does not apply to a single style that is suitable. Still, those multiple considerations are taken into account when choosing an appropriate style. These factors are primarily the level of growth of the team members in terms of competence and behavior. Moreover, attention should also be given to the task which has to be performed. Leaders should also consider the degree of maturity of the group to determine the most suitable leadership style which could be introduced for transformational teamwork. In the end, it is up to the leader’s ethics and willingness to direct people through transition, development, or setbacks. Today, this is the most significant attribute of successful leaders.


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Cote, R. (2017). Vision of effective leadership. Journal of Leadership, Accountability and Ethics, 14(4). Web.

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Yasir, M., & Mohamad, N. A. (2016). Ethics and morality: Comparing ethical leadership with servant, authentic, and transformational leadership styles. International Review of Management and Marketing, 6(4S), 310-316.

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