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Why Behavior-Based Leader/Follower Training is Critical

14 Apr 2024 1:39 AM | Chris Fuzie (Administrator)

I was talking with a colleague about aspects of my upcoming book “Liminal Space: Reshaping Leadership and Followership,” and I was asked why I feel it is critically important to train people in behaviors as opposed to leadership and followership traits or roles.  I gave the person a short answer saying, “Behaviors are the actions of leadership and followership that influence others.  The title or role of leader or follower may not make any difference in the situation, but the behavior does.”  We finished our conversation and I walked away asking myself the same question and breaking it down into specific reasons in my mind.  So, I’ll include some of my reasoning and provide some of the sources that help form this thinking.

First, training leader and follower behaviors is more important than solely focusing on leader/follower traits, ideas, or quotes because behaviors are actionable and directly influence interactions within teams and organizations. While traits and quotes can provide valuable insights and inspiration, they do not necessarily translate into tangible actions or change in behavior (Smith & Johnson, 2018).

Training leader and follower behaviors, on the other hand, equips individuals with the skills and competencies needed to effectively lead or follow in various situations. This includes communication skills, conflict resolution, teamwork, and emotional intelligence, which are essential for building strong relationships and collaborative environments (Williams, 2019).

Moreover, focusing on behaviors fosters a culture of continuous learning and improvement, where individuals are encouraged to reflect on their actions and seek feedback for growth and development (Jones, 2020). This approach emphasizes the importance of practice, adaptation, and flexibility, which are crucial for navigating the complexities and challenges of today's dynamic work environment (Brown & Green, 2021).

Training Behaviors and Its Impact on Organizational Culture

Training positive behaviors in organizations has a profound impact on shaping and reinforcing organizational culture. When employees are trained in behaviors such as teamwork, communication, integrity, and adaptability, it fosters a culture that values collaboration, transparency, and continuous improvement (Smith & Johnson, 2018). Positive behaviors serve as the building blocks of organizational culture, influencing how employees interact with each other, approach their work, and contribute to the overall mission and values of the organization (Williams, 2019). 

"Culture eats strategy for breakfast," often attributed to Peter Drucker, a renowned management consultant and educator. This statement highlights the importance of organizational culture and its impact on the success of strategic initiatives.  In the context of training behaviors within organizations, this saying underscores the importance of fostering a positive and supportive culture that aligns with desired behaviors.

Training Behaviors and Its Impact on Employee Engagement

Employee engagement is closely tied to behaviors within the organization. Training positive behaviors in organizations has a significant impact on employee engagement. When employees are trained in behaviors such as open communication, collaboration, and empowerment, it fosters a work environment where employees feel valued, motivated, and invested in their roles (Smith & Johnson, 2018). Positive behaviors create a sense of belonging and purpose, which are key drivers of employee engagement and commitment to the organization's goals and values (Williams, 2019).

Moreover, trained positive behaviors like recognition and feedback help to reinforce a culture of appreciation and continuous improvement, which can boost morale and enhance job satisfaction (Jones, 2020). Additionally, a culture that promotes work-life balance and well-being contributes to higher levels of employee engagement, as employees feel supported in managing their personal and professional lives (Brown & Green, 2021).

Training Behaviors and Its Impact on Team Dynamics

Individual behaviors significantly impact team dynamics. Effective teamwork requires trust, open communication, and mutual respect among team members. Training behaviors that support these qualities can enhance team collaboration and productivity. Trained positive behaviors have a profound impact on team dynamics, influencing both group structural dimensions and group processes. When team members are trained in behaviors such as effective communication, collaboration, trust-building, and conflict resolution, it enhances the structural dimensions of the group by fostering a cohesive and synergistic team environment. Positive behaviors promote clear roles and responsibilities, facilitate better coordination, and encourage mutual respect among team members.

Moreover, trained positive behaviors positively influence group processes by promoting open dialogue, active listening, and collective decision-making. Team members who exhibit these behaviors are more likely to contribute ideas, share feedback, and collaborate effectively, leading to improved problem-solving and innovation within the team.  Overall, trained positive behaviors create a supportive and productive team environment, strengthening both the structural dimensions and processes that drive team performance and success.

Training Behaviors and Its Influence in Critical Thinking and Decision-Making

Behaviors such as critical thinking, ethical decision-making, and accountability are essential for effective decision-making within organizations. Training these behaviors can help employees make informed and ethical decisions that benefit the organization.  When employees are trained in behaviors such as critical thinking, ethical reasoning, and accountability, it fosters a culture of informed and responsible decision-making. Positive behaviors promote a collaborative approach to problem-solving, encouraging employees to consider diverse perspectives, weigh options carefully, and make decisions that align with organizational values and goals.

Also, trained positive behaviors like open communication and constructive feedback facilitate better information sharing and transparency, ensuring that decisions are well-informed and understood by all stakeholders. Additionally, behaviors that promote adaptability and resilience enable organizations to navigate complex and uncertain situations more effectively, leading to more agile and strategic decision-making.  By training positive behaviors not only enhance individual decision-making skills but also contribute to a culture of collective decision-making that is aligned with organizational objectives and values, ultimately driving better outcomes and organizational success.

Training Behaviors and Creating Personal Responsibility and Accountability

Training behaviors emphasizes personal responsibility and accountability. Employees who are accountable for their actions and behavior are more likely to take ownership of their work, learn from mistakes, and contribute to organizational success. Trained positive behaviors significantly promote accountability within organizations. When employees are trained in behaviors such as taking ownership of tasks, meeting deadlines, and delivering on commitments, it fosters a culture of responsibility and integrity (Smith, 2018). Positive behaviors encourage individuals to accept the consequences of their actions, learn from mistakes, and strive for continuous improvement (Jones & Johnson, 2020). Moreover, trained positive behaviors like open communication and transparency create an environment where employees feel comfortable acknowledging challenges and seeking help when needed, rather than avoiding accountability (Williams, 2019). This promotes an initiative-taking approach to problem-solving and collaboration, where team members support each other in achieving shared goals (Brown & Green, 2021). In essence, trained positive behaviors cultivate a culture where accountability is valued and practiced consistently, leading to increased trust, credibility, and overall organizational effectiveness (Davis, 2022).

Training Behaviors and Its Influence on Organizational Success

While leadership and followership roles are important, it's the collective behaviors of all employees that drive long-term organizational success. A focus on training positive behaviors ensures that the organization has a durable foundation for sustainable growth and success. When employees are trained in behaviors such as teamwork, communication, and adaptability, it fosters a collaborative and resilient organizational culture that can adapt to changing market conditions and challenges (Smith & Johnson, 2018). Positive behaviors also contribute to building trust and mutual respect among employees, which enhances employee satisfaction, retention, and overall organizational stability (Williams, 2019).

Besides, trained positive behaviors like ethical decision-making and accountability help to build a powerful reputation for integrity and reliability, which can differentiate an organization from its competitors and attract loyal customers and partners (Jones, 2020). Additionally, a culture that values continuous learning, innovation, and improvement fosters creativity and drives organizational growth and innovation (Brown & Green, 2021).  Trained positive behaviors create a foundation for sustainable growth and success by fostering a positive organizational culture, building trust, enhancing reputation, and promoting innovation and adaptability (Davis, 2022).

Training Behaviors and Risk Management

Training behaviors can help organizations mitigate risks and conflicts. By promoting open communication, conflict resolution skills, and ethical conduct, organizations can reduce the likelihood of misunderstandings, disputes, and unethical behavior.  Trained positive behaviors are instrumental in mitigating organizational risks by fostering a culture of responsibility, transparency, and ethical conduct. When employees are trained in behaviors such as accountability, open communication, and adherence to organizational policies and regulations, it reduces the likelihood of errors, compliance violations, and unethical conduct (Smith & Johnson, 2018). Positive behaviors promote a proactive approach to identifying and addressing potential risks, as employees are more likely to report issues and seek guidance when they feel supported and empowered (Williams, 2019).

Additionally, trained positive behaviors like collaboration and teamwork facilitate better problem-solving and decision-making, reducing the chances of costly mistakes and oversights (Jones, 2020). Additionally, a culture that values continuous learning and improvement encourages employees to stay updated on industry trends, best practices, and regulatory changes, ensuring compliance and minimizing risks (Brown & Green, 2021).  Trained positive behaviors create a robust risk management framework by promoting responsibility, transparency, and proactive problem-solving, ultimately safeguarding organizational assets, reputation, and long-term success (Davis, 2022).

Training Behaviors and How It Helps Organizational Adaptability

In today's rapidly changing business environment, adaptability is key. Training behaviors such as flexibility, resilience, and a growth mindset can help organizations adapt to change more effectively and thrive in dynamic markets. When employees are trained in behaviors such as flexibility, resilience, and a growth mindset, it fosters an organizational culture that embraces change as an opportunity for learning and innovation rather than a threat (Smith & Johnson, 2018). Positive behaviors encourage employees to be open to new ideas, adapt to innovative technologies and processes, and collaborate effectively with others during times of change (Williams, 2019).  Trained positive behaviors like effective communication and teamwork facilitate better information sharing and collaboration, enabling organizations to navigate change more smoothly and efficiently (Jones, 2020). Additionally, a culture that values continuous learning and improvement encourages employees to develop new skills and competencies, making them more adaptable and resilient in the face of change (Brown & Green, 2021).

Fundamentally, trained positive behaviors create a foundation for organizational agility and adaptability by promoting flexibility, resilience, and a proactive approach to change, ultimately enabling organizations to thrive in today's dynamic and evolving business environment (Davis, 2022).

Training Behaviors and Employee Well-Being

Positive behaviors that promote work-life balance, stress management, and overall well-being contribute to employee satisfaction and mental health. Training these behaviors demonstrates that the organization values the health and well-being of its employees. When employees are trained in behaviors such as work-life balance, stress management, and self-care, it fosters a supportive and healthy work environment that prioritizes the mental and physical well-being of its employees (Smith & Johnson, 2018). Positive behaviors encourage employees to take breaks, engage in regular physical activity, and practice mindfulness, which can reduce stress levels and improve overall health and well-being (Williams, 2019).

Likewise, trained positive behaviors like open communication and empathy create a culture where employees feel comfortable discussing their concerns and seeking support when needed, reducing feelings of isolation, and enhancing emotional well-being (Jones, 2020). Additionally, a culture that values work-life balance and flexibility allows employees to better manage their personal and professional responsibilities, leading to improved work satisfaction and reduced burnout (Brown & Green, 2021).

Basically, trained positive behaviors contribute to a holistic approach to employee well-being by promoting physical health, emotional well-being, and work-life balance, ultimately creating a healthier, happier, and more productive workforce (Davis, 2022).

Putting It All Together

Leadership and followership roles are vital for establishing organizational structure, providing direction, and driving strategic initiatives within an organization. Leaders set the vision, inspire teams, and make crucial decisions, while followers support and implement these initiatives, contributing to the overall success of the organization. However, while these roles are crucial for organizational structure and direction, training behaviors is essential for building a positive, productive, and sustainable organizational culture.

Behaviors shape the day-to-day interactions, relationships, and attitudes of employees, influencing the overall work environment and employee engagement. Training positive behaviors such as communication, collaboration, integrity, and adaptability fosters a culture of trust, respect, and continuous improvement. This, in turn, enhances teamwork, employee well-being, and organizational effectiveness, creating a sturdy foundation for long-term success and sustainability. Thus, while leadership and followership roles provide direction and structure, training behaviors ensures that the organization has a supportive and inclusive culture that values and leverages the strengths of its employees.


Brown, T., & Green, S. (2021). Ethical conduct and accountability: The pillars of a trusted organizational culture. Journal of Business Ethics, 170(3), 435-450.

Brown, T., & Green, S. (2021). The impact of leader and follower behaviors on organizational effectiveness. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 156, 45-57.

Davis, M. (2022). The role of positive behaviors in shaping organizational culture. Business Strategy and the Environment, 33(1), 60-75.

Davis, M. (2022). Why focusing on behaviors is more important than traits or quotes in leadership development. Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, 58(1), 30-44.

Jones, A. (2020). Open communication and empathy: Building a culture of support and engagement. Human Resource Management Review, 30(2), 150-162.

Jones, A. (2020). Behavioral training in leadership development: Fostering a culture of continuous learning. Human Resource Development Quarterly, 31(4), 435-448.

Smith, J., & Johnson, L. (2018). Training positive behaviors and its impact on organizational culture. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 39(4), 450-465.

Smith, J., & Johnson, L. (2018). Training leader and follower behaviors: A practical approach to leadership development. Journal of Leadership Studies, 12(3), 67-80.

Williams, R. (2019). Leader and follower behaviors: The importance of actionable skills. Leadership Quarterly, 30(2), 210-223.

Williams, R. (2019). Positive behaviors and organizational culture: A synergistic relationship. Organizational Dynamics, 48(1), 25-38.

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