A Personal Theory of Leadership – Behaviors of Effective Leaders

If you are just joining the discussion, you may want to check out:

  • Part 1 to establish some context for this article.
  • Part 2 to see how I define leadership.
  • Part 3 to discover the key components of leadership.
  • Part 4 to understand the leadership values I count as most important.
  • Part 5 to uncover the goals of effective leadership.

The behaviors of effective leaders are dependent on the environment in which they are leading. (Yukl, p. 59) However, there are a few behaviors that are necessary for any leader to be effective. The first is doing the right thing by acting with integrity in every area. Next, a leader must do things right. An effective leader knows themselves because they engage in self-evaluation. This knowledge allows them to lead from their strengths while staffing to their weaknesses and empowering those they bring around them to operate in their individual strengths as well. In addition to self-evaluation, effective leaders think about the future and how to get there. They also motivate themselves and others through positive internal and external communication. (Neck & Manz, pp. 67-68)

Specific behaviors may be either task-oriented or relation-oriented. (Yukl, pp. 59-73) Those behaviors that are most relevant for effective leadership are planning, coordinating, communicating, monitoring, and developing and monitoring others. Effective leaders plan the work for themselves and others by identifying the necessary activities, proper sequences, and correct priorities for tasks that need to be accomplished. They also coordinate the resources needed to accomplish these tasks. Additionally, effective leaders clearly communicate what needs to be done and what they expect. Following the rule that you cannot expect what you do not inspect, effective leaders keep an eye on the right things. They build in systems that will alert them to problems before they become surprises. An effective leader is a master of asking questions. Furthermore, they create an environment where honest answers are encouraged, accepted, and appreciated and they have little patience for blowing smoke. Here, their efforts to support their followers directly affects their ability to monitor the progress of a project.

Some of the most important behaviors of effective leaders focus on developing and recognizing others. In developing others, love shows through in several ways. First, an effective leader is genuinely concerned with individual development. Knowing that love is patient and not self-seeking, they are patient with their followers as they provide opportunities for growth and development and set their subordinates up for present and future success. Effective leaders also intentionally recognize the contributions and accomplishments of others. This is something I practiced as a children’s minister and I saw the commitment level of my volunteers greatly increase. Even though I tend to overlook seemingly minor individual contributions, I put a system in place that forced me to express appreciation on a weekly basis. In this case, the behavior was effective even though it did not stem from strength of personal preference but strength of the system I developed. One key note is that everyone got recognized and praised – everyone does something right – even if it is just showing up.


Neck, C. P., & Manz, C. C. (2013). Mastering Self-Leadership: Empowering Yourself For Personal Excellence. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc. publishing as Prentice Hall.


Yukl, G. (2013). Leadership in Organizations, 8th Edition. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education Incorporated.