How to Write a Compare and Contrast Essay in Leadership Studies

Writing guide
Posted on April 23, 2020

Compare and contrast is a common style of academic writing that discusses similarities and differences of two or more things, ideas, concepts etc. By assigning you such papers, your instructors expect that you’ll use your analytical and critical thinking skills to establish connections between ideas or theories and produce an essay that demonstrates your thorough understanding of the topic.

If that sounds too challenging for you, read this easy guide where we discuss how to write a compare and contrast essay in leadership studies. You’ll learn how to get started and organize your work in an efficient manner. We’ll give you simple instructions on how to choose a good topic, create an outline, develop a thesis, and write and edit your draft. If you face difficulties with other types of academic papers, check out other articles on our website. Here you’ll find full guides to all writing assignments out there.

What Is a Compare and Contrast Essay in Leadership Studies?

In the compare and contrast essay in leadership studies, you need to examine two or more topics (ideas, concepts, theories, historical figures, texts, processes etc.). Your task is to compare their similarities and contrast their differences. You may focus your essay exclusively on comparison and write about what your subjects have in common, exclusively on contrast and explain how they differ or you may do the both.

The key to writing a good compare and contrast essay is to choose subjects that are connected in a meaningful way. That means that you need to choose two or more things that belong to the same category and have something in common so that you can determine the basis of comparison. Then you should create a list of their characteristics and choose a pattern for organizing your ideas. Let’s discuss each step of the writing process in detail.

Choose a Good Compare and Contrast Essay Topic

Leadership studies is a multidisciplinary field so it focuses on diverse topics related to leadership in human life and in organizational context. When writing your compare and contrast essay, you can explain differences and similarities in leadership styles, approaches to decision making, problem-solving, conflict management etc.

Choose a topic for your essay that you are interested in and make sure it is relevant to your course of study. It’s important to select a topic that you can argue. Then pick 2 or more subjects that can be obviously compared and contrasted. That means that they should be different enough to be compared and belong to the same or similar category to ensure that your comparison makes sense. For example, if you decide to examine an idea, you should select the opposite idea for comparison. And if you decide to examine a person, for example, a political or business leader, you should pick another political or business leader for comparison and contrast.

If you can’t decide what to write about in your compare and contrast essay in leadership studies, feel free to use this short list of impressive compare and contrast essay topics which we created to help you come up with your own ideas.

  • Compare Competing and Accommodating Approaches to Conflict Resolution;
  • Compare Collaborating and Compromising Styles to Deal with Conflict in the Workplace;
  • Democratic Leadership vs. Autocratic Leadership;
  • Laissez-faire Leadership Style vs. Transformational Leadership Style;
  • Emotional Intelligence vs. Cognitive Intelligence;
  • Emotional Intelligence vs. Soft Skills;
  • Authentic Leadership Theories vs. Transformational Leadership;
  • Individual Needs vs. Organizational Needs in Budgeting;
  • Motivation Management Theories: Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs vs. Alderfer’s ERG Theory;
  • Team Building vs. Team Coaching;
  • Principles of Influence: Reciprocity vs. Commitment;
  • Persuasion Techniques to Increase Your Influence: Social Proof vs. Authority;
  • Tuckman’s Group Theory vs. Belbin’s Group Theory;
  • Information-Processing Leadership Theory vs. Functional Leadership Theory;
  • Ethical Leadership vs. Unethical Leadership.

Brainstorm Your Topic

Now you have to brainstorm the qualities of each subject and use some pre-writing techniques to organize your ideas.

  • You can divide a piece of paper into 2 sides (one side is for the first subject while the other side is for the second one). Then create list of features that characterize each subject as they come to your mind. Think about similarities and differences.
  • You may also create a Venn diagram. Draw intersecting circles. List similarities of your subjects in the area where the circles intersect. Write differences of your subject in the areas that don’t overlap.

As you are comparing and contrasting two subjects, it’s important to maintain the balance of similarities and differences and evaluate each of your subjects fairly. If you find that there are more similarities between your subjects than differences, you may focus your essay on comparing. If there are more differences, it would be better to focus your paper on contrasting. And if there is a balance of differences and similarities, you may discuss both similarities and differences.

Decide what key points you’ll include in your essay and do additional research to find relevant evidence and examples that you will use to support your argument. As you read your sources, make notes of interesting ideas that you can quote or paraphrase in your essay with proper referencing.

Create an Outline for Your Compare and Contrast Essay in Leadership Studies

When you gather enough information to support your ideas, you should create a strong and highly specific thesis statement. You should clearly state whether you are going to compare your subjects, contrast them or discuss both their similarities and differences. Your thesis statement should also make it clear why you are doing so. Remember that the point of comparing and contrasting is to present useful information to your readers. For example, if the purpose of your compare and contrast essay is to examine cognitive intelligence vs. emotional intelligence, your thesis may look like this:

‘While both emotional intelligence and cognitive intelligence are importance for person’s success in life, cognitive intelligence can better predict performance on individual tasks while emotional intelligence is more important for building stronger relationships at work and achieving career goals.’

Now you should decide how you are going to organize your compare and contrast essay. There are two methods that you can use to structure your argument: the point-by-point method and the block method.

  • For the block methods, you should discuss one subject, examining all its characteristics and then analyze features of the second subject. This approach is easier and since you don’t switch between topics, your argument develops more smoothly.
  • For the point-by-point method, you need to switch between subjects and discuss them in relation to each point. This approach is easier for your readers to follow because they can clearly see when you are discussing similarities and when you are discussing differences. That’s why this method is often used for longer essays.

No matter which organization pattern you use in your essay, you should include lots of transitional words and phrases that show when you are discussing similarities and differences. Here are some examples of compare and contrast structure words.

  • When you compare subjects, you can use such words and phrases like also, too, as well as, the same as, similarly, comparatively, both, like, just as, in addition, in the same way, similar to, likewise.
  • When you contrast subjects, you can use such words and phrases like yet, while, although, besides, unlike, unless, though, conversely, compared with, but, nevertheless, in contrast to, regardless, rather than, even though, differ, otherwise, on the other hand, however, furthermore, notwithstanding, more than, less than.

You should follow the basic essay structure that consists of an introductory paragraph, body paragraphs, and a concluding paragraph. Let’s discuss how to write each part of your essay.

Write a Strong Introduction of Your Compare and Contrast Essay in Leadership Studies

The purpose of an introductory paragraph is to engage your audience and inform them about the topic of your essay. You should use ‘general to specific; structure.

  • Start with a hook to catch your readers’ attention. It may be a provocative question, a surprising fact, a good quote.
  • Provide background information and introduce your topic. You should be concise and include information that is relevant to your argument. You may also give short definitions of the key terms.
  • State the thesis to establish the focus and purpose of your paper. Let your readers know what exactly you are going to argue. Briefly outline the main points of your argument.

Write Convincing Body Paragraphs

Each body paragraph should discuss one main point and have a single controlling idea. Besides, each paragraph should explain, prove, and support your main claim or thesis statement. You may structure each body paragraph this way.

  • Start every paragraph with a topic sentence that presents the controlling idea – the main point.
  • Add 1-2 sentences that further explain your topic sentence.
  • Provide your evidence that supports the controlling idea. You may include common sense facts, figures, statistics, and relevant quotes.
  • Explain your evidence and tell your readers why it is important and how it helps support your main point and the argument of the entire essay.
  • Finish each body paragraph with a concluding sentence. It should summarize the ideas of each paragraph and explain how each paragraph contributes to the development of the essay’s argument.

Make sure you include transition words and phrases between sentences and paragraphs to help your audience see connections between your thoughts. You may use such transitional words and phrases to clarify relationships between different sentences in your essay: for example, in this case, furthermore, therefore, however, that, who, which, when, although, while etc.

Write a Memorable Conclusion

A conclusion is one of the most important parts of any paper. It’s your last chance to emphasize the significance of your argument and make a final impression on your reader. Here are some tips on how you can do it right.

  • You should avoid using such phrases like in conclusion or to sum it up. Instead, you should start this paragraph with a transition sentence.
  • Don’t include any new pieces of information in the concluding paragraph. Instead, you need to briefly summarize everything you’ve written and synthesize the main points by showing connections between them.
  • You should also restate your thesis statement and remind your audience why it matters. You should show your readers the broader implications of your argument.
  • A good conclusion wraps everything up and brings a sense of closure to your essay.

Revise and Edit Your Compare and Contrast Essay in Leadership Studies

When you finish the first draft of your essay, you should put it aside for at least a couple of hours and then revise it and edit. When you revise, your goal is to improve the content and the logical flow of your ideas. You may want to add some additional information or remove some paragraphs and sentences to ensure that your ideas better fit the chosen topic. You should also fix some issues in the logic and organize your writing in way that your readers can understand your message. Besides, you should improve the sentence structure and word choice to ensure that your essay is clear and concise.

After that, you need to edit your essay and fix minor issues like grammar and spelling errors or awkward words and phrases that may prevent your readers from fully understanding your argument. Finally, should polish your essay and eliminate grammar, punctuation, and spelling errors and typos that you may have overlooked. You should also reread your compare and contrast essay in leadership studies once again and make sure that there are no sentences that don’t make sense. You should also check your citations and make sure that you cite your sources strictly according the guidelines of a specific citation style.

Writing a powerful compare and contrast essay in leadership studies is a rather time-consuming process so it’s important to start early to ensure that you’ll have enough time for brainstorming your ideas, planning your essay, writing a draft, editing, and proofreading. We hope that our guide will help you organize the writing process, successfully cope with your assignment, and impress your professor.

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