Path-Goal Theory of Leadership

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Path- Goal Theory of Leadership
Torey Shannon and

There are many theories that are considered relevant when it comes to interpersonal relationships and the roles of leaders in behavioral science. According to Robert House, the relevance of these theories to the overall success of the organization is skewed. Robert House is an American Psychologist who graduated from Ohio State University with a Ph.D. in Management. He formulated The Path-Goal Theory of Leader Effectiveness (House, 1971). This theory was formulated on the precepts of two previous theories, the Expectancy Theory of Motivation by Victor Vroom and the work of Martin G. Evans. Victor Vroom originated the first work place oriented theory on motivation in 1964. It stated that: employees tend to rationally evaluate the types of on the job/work behaviors and then select the best behaviors they believe will result in the most valued work related rewards and outcomes (Vroom, 1959). This theory, I believe, states the notion that employees will use their behaviors, values, and work ethic to put in more effort to complete a task with a reward or some desired outcome. These rewards can be a promotion, rise in pay or compensation, or personal satisfaction. In short, the results have to be attractive to the subordinate. Micheal Evans’ research suggests that the relationship with structure and employee satisfaction and motivation is contingent on the level that the subordinates need some type of clarification on the behaviors necessary of them to perform effectively. It further states: there is a unique relationship in the leader initiating structure and the expectancies of subordinate employees (Evans 1970). When the two are intertwined and a hypothesis is conceived, Robert Houses’ theory of Path-Goal of Leadership Effectiveness is made relevant. This paper will give the origin of the theory, define the theory, and describe and give example of the four types of leadership behavior styles and the types of professions that could use them. The path-goal of leadership effectiveness was created to rectify prior research and anomalies resulting from empirical investigations of the effects of leader/task orientation and leader/person orientation/relationship on worker satisfaction and performance (House 1971). THE THEORY

Before the theory is explained, it is necessary to define the words leadership and motivation, and goal. According to Peter G. Northhouse, leadership is the process whereby an individual influences a group of individuals to achieve a common goal (Northhouse 207). Motivation is considered to be the process that initiates, guided, and maintains goal-oriented behaviors. A goal is a desired result. These three principles are essential to understanding the Path Goal of Leadership effectiveness. The Path-Goal Theory of Leadership was conceived to describe the way leaders motivate and support their followers in achieving the goals, personal and organizational, by making a path clear and easy to follow. The theory is consistent in noting that the leaders’ job is to assist followers in attaining goals and the demands of a particular environment (House and Mitchell (1974). The Path-goal of leadership effectiveness is a leadership concept in which the subordinates accept the leader's behavior in so much as they view it as resulting in immediate or future benefit. Therefore, a leader's main function is to 'clear a path' to the realization of the subordinates' goals; he or she must choose the behavior patterns that are most applicable in helping the subordinates get what they want. In the original version of the theory, it was asserted that the motivational function of the leader consists of personal payoffs to subordinates for work-goal attainment and making the path to these payoffs easier to travel by clarifying the way, reducing roadblocks and pitfalls, and increasing the opportunities for reward en route. In order to this, leaders can take a...
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