Path Goal Theory Of Leadership

Topics: Leadership, Motivation, Path-goal theory Pages: 5 (1016 words) Published: December 12, 2014
12/12/2014

Path-Goal Theory of Leadership

Path-Goal Leadership Theory
The Path-Goal model is a theory based on specifying a leader's style[1] or behavior that best fits the employee and work environment in order to achieve goals (House, Mitchell, 1974). The goal is to increase an employee's motivation, empowerment, and satisfaction so that they become productive members of the organization. Path-Goal is based on Vroom's (1964) expectancy theory[2] in which an individual will act in a certain way based on the expectation that the act will be followed by a given outcome and on the attractiveness of that outcome to the individual. The path-goal theory was first introduced by Martin Evans (1970) and then further developed by House (1971).

The path-goal theory can best be thought of as a process in which leaders select specific behaviors that are best suited to the employees' needs and the working environment so that they may best guide the employees through their path in the obtainment of their daily work activities (goals) (Northouse, 2013). While Path-Goal Theory is not an exact process, it generally follows these basic steps as shown in the graphic below:

1. Determine the employee and environmental characteristics
2. Select a leadership style
3. Focus on motivational factors that will help the employee succeed

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Employee Characteristics
Employees interpret their leader's behavior based on their needs, such as the degree of structure they need, affiliation, perceived level of ability, and desire for control. For example, if a leader provides more structure than what they need, they become less motivated. Thus a leader needs to understand their employees so they know how to best motivate them.

Task and Environmental Characteristics
Overcoming obstacles is a special focus of path-goal theory. If they become too strong, then the leader needs to step in. Some of the more difficult task characteristics that often arise are:
Design of the task - The design of the task might call for the leader's support. For example, if the task is ambiguous, then the leader might have to give it more structure or an extremely difficult task might call for leader support. Formal authority system - Depending upon the task authority, the leader can provide clear goals and/or give the employee some or all control. chrome-extension://iooicodkiihhpojmmeghjclgihfjdjhj/in_isolation/reformat.html

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Work group - If the team is non-supportive, then the leader needs to be cohesiveness and esprit-de-corps that provides comradeship, enthusiasm, and devotion to all team members.

Leader Behavior or Style
The independent variables of Path-Goal Theory are the leaders' behavior — employee motivation to excel at their goal or task is increased when the leader adjusts her style of behavior to employee and task characteristics. House and Mitchell (1974) defined four types of leader behaviors or styles. They are based on two factors that were identified by an Ohio State University study behaviors (Stogdill, 1974): Consideration - relationship behaviors, such as respect and trust. Initiating Structure - task behaviors, such as organizing, scheduling, and seeing that work is completed.

The first behavior listed below, Directive, is based on initiating structure. The other three (achievement, participative, and supportive) are based upon consideration. The four path-goal types of leader behaviors are:

Directive: The leader informs her followers on what is expected of them, such as telling them what to do, how to perform a task, and scheduling and coordinating work. It is most effective when people are unsure about the task or when there is a lot of uncertainty within the environment.

Supportive: The leader make work pleasant for the workers by showing...

References: Evans, M. G. (1970). The effects of supervisory behavior on the path-goal relationship.
House, R. J. (1971). A Path-Goal Theory of Leader Effectiveness. Administrative Science
Quarterly
House, R. J., Mitchell, T. R. (1974). Path-goal theory of leadership. Journal of
Contemporary Business
House, R. J. (1996). Path-goal theory of leadership: Lessons, legacy, and a
reformulated theory
Northouse, P. (2013). Leadership Theory and Practice. Thousand Oaks: Sage
Publications, Inc.
Ridley, M. (2003). Nature Via Nurture[6]. New York: Harper Collins.
Stogdill, R. M. (1974). Handbook of Leadership: A Survey of Theory and and Research[7].
Vroom, V., H. (1964). Work and motivation. New York: Wiley.
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