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Path-Goal Theory of Leadership

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Path-Goal Theory of Leadership

The path goal theory focuses on how motivating followers can have a major influence on the outcome of a task presented to them. It was originally proposed by Robert House (1971) while he was trying to explain various differences that were found in studies related to people vs. task concern leadership styles. The path goal theory of leadership has a very practical theoretical framework. It is useful for understanding how various leadership behaviors affect the satisfaction of followers and their work performance. The most common expectations of employees from their jobs have roots in their socio-economic status, people are motivated to work not just to make a living but also how they compare against their peers (Changing Minds, 2011).

The path goal theory has three major components. The components are leadership style, subordinate preference, and task structure (Practical Management, 2011). Leadership style is the basic function of situational leadership, specifically directing, coaching, contributing and delegating. Subordinate preference focuses on assessing how followers will perceive a particular leadership style. Will they find your style satisfying and motivating or stressful and unsatisfying? Task structure deals with analyzing a task and restructuring it in way that makes it clear. A leader has the capabilities to remove any road blocks that may hinder the follower from being successful. This increases the confidence and willingness of the followers.

The core of path goal theory is that leaders are going to be effective, engage in behaviors that complement followers, and have the ability to compensate for deficiencies. The leader must be instrumental to the follower's satisfaction and individual work performance. In order for a leader to apply this theory successfully, he or she must adopt knowledge from other leadership skills and apply those skills where needed based on the situation presented.

The leadership styles that coincide with path-goal theory are directive, supportive, participative, and achievement-oriented leadership (House and Mitchell, 1974). Directive leadership focuses on given advice to a group and having ground rules and structure established, for example, clarifying expectations and assigning certain tasked to be followed. Supportive leadership promotes good relations with followers and is sensitive to their needs. Participative leadership consists of including followers when important decisions are being addressed. Achievement-oriented leadership sets challenging goals and encourages followers to perform at a high level while leaders show confidence in their abilities.

There are a few advantages and disadvantages of path-goal leadership style. One advantage is the theory focuses on the importance of motivation from the perspective of the follower. A leader's behavior



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