The behavior approach to studying leadership is fairly new as it relates to research into the area of leadership study. This approach actually focuses on what managers do and the results associated with their actions. The approach can be broken down into two distinct areas of focus. The first addresses the responsibilities of the manager, job functions and other identifiable objective criteria. The second looks at the effectiveness of how a manager’s behavior impacts overall job function. Yukl (2010) stated, “In the past 50 years, hundreds of survey studies examined the correlation between leadership behavior and various indicators of leadership effectiveness” (p.14).
Strengths of the Behavior Approach The research that has historically been done in the area of the behavior approach involves several ways to gather information for analysis. This is routinely done through hands on methods that the managers themselves provide to the researcher. In so doing, the results obtained tends to be more accurate and more pertinent to all concerned parties, most particularly the manager himself. Yukl (2010) stated, “Self management (sometimes called self leadership) involves identifying personal objectives and priorities, managing one’s time efficiently, monitoring one’s own behavior and its consequences, and trying to learn to be more effective in accomplishing personal goals” (p.17). There is an implication that because the manager is so focused on his or her success then leadership effectiveness is increased.
Weaknesses of the Behavior Approach The primary weakness of the behavior approach to studying leadership is that the behavior approach was not originally designed to measure effectiveness. Because of this, subjective indicators of effectiveness are used most of the time with the behavior method. Yukl (2010) stated, “One common indicator of leader effectiveness is the extent to which the performance of the team or organizational unit is enhanced and the attainment of goals is facilitated” (p.10 ). While this is an admirable intention, there is no measurement of the correlation between the manager who is considered effective and the behavior that he or she exhibits in a given situation. This inability to identify managerial ineffectiveness sometimes leads to a company not being as productive as need be because retaining a manager that is not doing what needs to be done in the most efficient manner. Example of the Behavior Approach The evaluation of the Wal-Mart manager is an example of the behavior approach to studying leadership. The Wal-Mart manager is expected to be a hands on supervisor who needs to possess several management skills that may or may not be directly associated with a