Leadership is a Behavior
Dr. Peter G. Northouse, a noted authority on leadership, states the following about “Leadership Is a Behavior”:
"Leadership is also a behavior. It is what leaders do when they are in a leadership role. The behavioral dimension is concerned with how leaders act toward others in various situations. Unlike traits, abilities, and skills, leadership behaviors are observable. When someone leads, we see that person’s leadership behavior.
Research on leadership has shown that leaders engage primarily in two kinds of general behaviors: task behaviors and process behaviors. Task behaviors are used by leaders to get the job done (e.g., they prepare an agenda for a meeting). Process behaviors are used by leaders to help people feel comfortable with other group members and at ease with the situations in which they find themselves (e.g., they help individuals in a group to feel included). Since leadership requires both task and process behaviors, the challenge for leaders is to know the best way to combine them in their efforts to reach a goal."
Behavior theory broadened the understanding of leadership beyond traits and skills and placed an emphasis on the behavior of leaders and what they do in various situations.
Incidentally, there is also a “situational theory” of leadership that suggests that there is no single ideal leadership style—that is, the optimal leadership behaviors are dependent upon the specific situation at hand.
A criticism of behavior theory is that researchers have not been able to establish a consistent link between task and process behaviors and outcomes such as morale, job satisfaction, and productivity.
Peter G. Northouse, Introduction to Leadership: Concepts and Practice (Los Angeles, CA: Sage Publications, 2009).
Peter G. Northouse, Leadership: Theory and Practice (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2004).