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  • Writer's pictureMatt Garris

King Josiah's Leadership

The following post is adapted from my personal academic coursework.

Analyzing Josiah’s Leadership Using the Behavioral and Situational Approaches

King Josiah was one of Judah’s strongest leaders. Merida described his “stellar leadership” and likens him to a “second Moses.” However, perhaps the most glowing review of Josiah comes from 2 Kings 23:25(NKJV): “Now before him there was no king like him, who turned to the Lord with all his heart, with all his soul, and with all his might, according to the Law of Moses; nor after him did any arise like him.” Josiah is certainly a king worth studying and emulating. The behavioral and situational approaches to leadership provide further insights into King Josiah’s leadership.

The Behavioral Approach

Northouse wrote that the behavioral approach to leadership “offers a means of assessing… …the behaviors of leaders… [and] …their impacts on others… …through the tasks they perform as well as in the relationships they create.” Like other models, this leadership approach has its strengths and weaknesses, but is unique because it does not offer what Northouse described as “a neatly organized set of prescriptions for effective leadership behavior.”

Foundational Studies

The behavioral approach views behaviors on various continua. Northouse described the differences between the foundational studies from Ohio State studies which focused on initiating structure and consideration and from the University of Michigan which focused on employee orientation and production orientation. While the University of Michigan team ultimately followed the Ohio State model of independent continua, they initially proposed that these orientations were related and leadership was one-dimensional in this regard. The Leadership Grid followed these studies with a visual conceptualization of the relationship between these continua. More recently, Yukl et al. expanded this two-dimensional construct by identifying “three broad meta-categories [of leadership behaviors]: task-oriented leadership…, …relations-oriented leadership…, …and change-oriented leadership.”

The Situational Approach

The situational approach is closely related to the behavioral approach. While the behavioral approach assesses leadership, the situational approach suggests when certain behaviors are most effective. Like the common two-dimensional behavioral models, Northouse explained that the situational approach has a directive and supportive dimension. Not only are these dimensions similar in nature to the behavioral continua, they are likewise independent but related.

The situational approach expresses ideal occasions for implementing certain directive-supportive combinations based on the competence-commitment combination of the subordinate. Thompson & Glasø suggested that the situational approach is important because instead of advocating a one-size-fits-all approach, it emphasizes “the significance of flexible, adaptive [leadership] behavior.”


Josiah fits well within these frameworks because he demonstrates behaviors along these three dimensions which he adapts to different situations. One example of this is Josiah’s delegating leadership style with the highly competent and highly committed carpenters, builders, and masons. He instructed his scribe Shaphan that “there need be no accounting made with them… …because they deal faithfully” (2 Kings 22:7).

Josiah’s Finest Moment

Josiah did much good during his brief reign in Judah, but his finest moment was when he led Judah in repentance for its centuries of sins (2 Kings 23:1-24). In that season, Josiah operated as what Northouse would call a team leader . He was highly directive, task-oriented, and concerned about the results of his leadership. He was simultaneously highly supportive, oriented towards relationships, and concerned about his people. Finally, he also exercised change-oriented leadership in this moment in accordance with Yukl et al.’s three-dimensional construct.

True Leadership

Josiah’s leadership was not only flexible and adaptive; it was effective. His reign stands alone as one not mired in moral failures. Because he led effectively, all of Judah benefitted. The distinguishing feature of leadership is followers. People followed Josiah not only because of his position, but because he cared for them and set a godly example for them. Vincent-Höper and Stein discussed the relationship between leadership behaviors and follower well-being. Josiah’s leadership delivered results not only for the organization, but for his followers as well. Josiah’s subjects were better off because he reigned as king. That is true leadership.


Heimann, A. L., Ingold, P. V., & Kleinmann, M. (2020). Tell us about your leadership style: A structured interview approach for assessing leadership behavior constructs. The Leadership Quarterly, 31(4), 101364.

Holy Bible, New King James Version. (2020). Thomas Nelson (Original work published 1982).

Merida, T. (2015). Christ-centered exposition commentary: Exalting Jesus in 1 & 2 Kings. B&H Publishing Group.

Northouse, P. G. (2019). Leadership: Theory and practice (8th ed.). SAGE Publications, Inc.

Thompson, G., & Glasø, L. (2018). Situational leadership theory: A test from a leader-follower congruence approach. Leadership & Organization Development Journal, 39(5), 574-591.

Vincent-Höper, S., & Stein, M. (2019). The role of leaders in designing employees’ work characteristics: Validation of the health- and development-promoting leadership behavior questionnaire. Frontiers in Psychology, 10, 1049.


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