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Practical Application: Comparing Trait Theories & Behavioral Theories of Leadership

Instructor: Natalie Boyd

Natalie is a teacher and holds an MA in English Education and is in progress on her PhD in psychology.

What makes a person a good leader? What makes leaders very different from each other? Trait and behavioral theories of leadership explain the differences between leaders. Compare these two theories with this open-ended reflection question.

Theories of Leadership

Leadership can be a complicated thing. There are many different theories about what makes leaders different from each other. For example, trait theory looks at the personality traits that a strong leader has. In contrast, behavioral theory looks at the types of behaviors of different leaders.

For more information on trait and behavioral theories of leadership, see the lesson Trait Theories vs. Behavioral Theories of Leadership. Then, deepen your understanding by comparing the two theories with the reflection below.

Comparing Theories

Take a moment and think about two leaders that you know or have worked with. These can be people who are in leadership positions (such as a manager or CEO) or people who lead naturally (such as a colleague with influence over others). Choose one leader who is very effective and one who you believe is not very effective at leadership. Then, take a few minutes to write a reflection on the differences between the two leaders. Use the questions below to guide your thinking.

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