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Path Goal Theory of Leadership

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    PATH GOAL THEORY OF LEADERSHIP The path-goal theory, also known as the path-goal theory of leader effectiveness or the path-goal model, is a leadership theory in the field of organizational studies developed by Robert House, an Ohio State University graduate, in 1971 and revised in 1996. The theory states that a leader’s behavior is contingent to the satisfaction, motivation and performance of his subordinates. The Path-Goal Theory of Leadership was developed to describe the way that leaders encourage and support their followers in achieving the goals they have been set by making the path that they should take clear and easy.

    In particular, leaders: * Clarify the path so subordinates know which way to go. * Remove roadblocks that are stopping them going there. * Increasing the rewards along the route. According to the Path-Goal theory of leadership, leaders are effective because of their affect on employees’ motivation and ability to perform. The theory is known as the Path-Goal theory because it describes how the leader influences the employees’ goals, and the paths to reach those goals. The Path-Goal theory is a useful framework for understanding the effect of a leader’s behavior on employee satisfaction and morale.

    The Path-Goal theory offers useful insights that would be helpful in guiding the behavior of managers in different situations. The Leader’s strategic function is to increase the employees’ motivation to perform. In other words, the function of the leader consists in increasing the benefits to the employees for reaching well defined goals, and removing the road blocks on the paths to these goals. House and Mitchell (1974) describe four styles of leadership: Supportive leadership Considering the needs of the follower, showing concern for their welfare and creating a friendly working environment.

    This includes increasing the follower’s self-esteem and making the job more interesting. This approach is best when the work is stressful, boring or hazardous. Directive leadership Telling followers what needs to be done and giving appropriate guidance along the way. This includes giving them schedules of specific work to be done at specific times. Rewards may also be increased as needed and role ambiguity decreased (by telling them what they should be doing). This may be used when the task is unstructured and complex and the follower is inexperienced.

    This increases the follower’s sense of security and control and hence is appropriate to the situation. Participative leadership Consulting with followers and taking their ideas into account when making decisions and taking particular actions. This approach is best when the followers are expert and their advice is both needed and they expect to be able to give it. Achievement-oriented leadership Setting challenging goals, both in work and in self-improvement (and often together). High standards are demonstrated and expected.

    The leader shows faith in the capabilities of the follower to succeed. This approach is best when the task is complex. References Bass, B. M. (1990). Bass and Stogdill’s Handbook of Leadership. New York: Free Press. Likert, R. (1961). New patterns of management, NewYork: McGraw-Hill Likert R. (1967). The human organization: Its management and value, NY: McGraw-Hill http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Leadership_studies http://psychology. about. com/library/weekly/aa041502a. htm http://www. css. edu/users/dswenson/web/LEAD/path-goal. html

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