The trait approach and behavioral approach are very similar yet very different ideas.

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The trait approach and behavioral approach are very similar yet very different ideas. The trait approach focuses on traits. “These might include mental characteristics such as intelligence, integrity, confidence, and other personality characteristics; physical characteristics such as strength or stamina, social characteristics including the ability to influence others and sociability, and communication skills such as empathy plus talent in the area of public speaking.” (Warrick, 2016, 3.2). While the behavioral approach focuses on the behaviors of the individual.  Some behaviors and traits do have some correlations where a trait might turn into a behavior, so that is one similarity. “The main similarity is that both approaches emphasize that there are identifiable actions that any leader must be capable of doing in any given situation” (Johnson, 2019). Both approaches are approaches, that have the same idea of trying to get the same goal. At the same time, the main difference is that they are two different things. A trait is an attribute, but a behavior is something that one does. Somebody might show the trait of intelligence but using their brain might not be a behavior that they display. In some ways, some people think that leaders are raised with their traits and behaviors and others think they may be innately within them from the moment they are born.

Johnson, W. (2019, March 9). Describe the Major Similarities & Differences Between the Trait & Behavior Leadership Theories. Retrieved January 10, 2020, from

Warrick, D.D. (2016). Leadership: A high impact approach [Electronic version]. Retrieved from

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The situational leadership model, developed by Ken Blanchard and Paul Hersey, is based on the philosophy that there is no one leadership style that can embody leadership entirely. In other words, one style of leadership is not effective for every circumstance. They recommend that the preferred leadership style is one that adjusts to the situation at hand (Warrick, 2016). The ability of the employee to perform a certain task, per se, will determine how involved the leader needs to be in helping the employee to complete the task. If an employee is expertly skilled, the leader might use a democratic leadership style, in which the employee completes the task and the leader only comes in at the end to make the final decision (Amanchukwu, Stanley, & Ololube, 2015). Conversely, if the employee is not aptly skilled, the best leadership style would then be authoritarian, in that the leader would have to provide clear instructions, give specific goals, and direct the entire process with no feedback or participation from the employees (2015).

The authentic leadership theory involves knowing one’s true self and being true to one’s values. Authentic leaders are honest, have a high level of integrity, are aware of their strengths and weaknesses, and always remain true to their values (Klenke, 2007). They can be characterized as having an awareness of how their individual traits affect others. They are genuine, fair, and always do the right thing. They consider all options and viewpoints before making a decision and they are transparent.

In comparison, both theories are alike in that they involve having balance in the approach taken to lead. This means that the situational and authentic leadership styles can be characterized as demonstrating fairness, providing clear instructions when necessary, and delegation of tasks. In contrast, the situational leadership style is more apt to change with the current situation. Therefore, the ability to be flexible is a key component as it allows leaders to change methods and apply the necessary traits that can best handle a current situation. Authentic leaders are the same all the time. They make decisions based purely on their personal beliefs and values. They are guided by empathy and morals. When making decisions, an authentic leader will act in an ethical manner regardless of any consequence(s) he/she might have to face later. Situational leaders are more task based and authentic leaders could be classified as more relationship-based.


Amanchukwu, R. N., Stanley, G. J., Ololube, N. P. (2015). A review of leadership theories, principles and styles and their relevance to educational management. Scientific and Academic Publishing, 5(1), pp. 6-14. doi: 10.5923/ Retrieved from (Links to an external site.)

Klenke, K. (2007). Authentic leadership: A self, leader, and spiritual identity perspective. International Journal of Leadership Studies, 3(1). Retrieved from (Links to an external site.)

Warrick, D.D. (2016). Leadership: A high impact approach [Electronic version]. Retrieved from (Links to an external site.)