Path-Goal Theory of Leadership

Path Goal Theory

Sometimes notions are the purest source of commotion especially when it comes to decision-making about your team and team member’s performance and effectiveness. Individuals sometimes feel that the best way to manage a team is to set objectives and let them work for themselves and deliver the outcomes, which might turn out to be hard hitting on the team, as a whole.  When this model is carried out amongst the team, the team member’s haven’t responded well. As an individual with the leadership and management role, how would you respond?

• Involve yourself in taking all the decision by yourself rather than discussing with the team?
• Actively participate with the team to provide proper guidance on the project?
• Or just will leave them to learn their own?
• Conduct daily meetings to discuss and brainstorm?

Choosing the best way to lead a team could sometimes take you to lead a wrong approach to the team. If this happens, it can take a toll on the morale, effectiveness, and productivity of you as a leader and the team as well.

In 1971, Psychologist, Robert House, developed the Path-Goal Theory and redefined and updated it in a 1996 article in The Leadership Quarterly.

Here is a synopsis of Path-Goal Theory.

What is Path-Goal Theory?

Path-Goal Theory is one among proven theories to effectively choose the best approach to leadership, based on what your people want and your current situation.

Leadership Responsibilities

The first and foremost understanding about the Path-Goal Theory is that, if you want the team to achieve their goals, you need to help, support, and motivate them and this can be done in three ways:

• Facilitating them to identify and achieve their goals.
• Clearing away obstacles to improve performance.
• Offering appropriate rewards along the way.

In order to carry forward the above-mentioned traits, four types of leadership technique can be used:
1. Supportive leadership
2. Directive leadership
3. Participative leadership
4. Achievement-oriented leadership

Supportive Leadership Directive Leadership
The focus is on relationships. Team member’s best interests and sensitivity are considered. This technique is carried out when the tasks are repetitive or stressful. This technique communicates goals and expectation to assign clear tasks. This technique is carried out when the tasks are unstructured, complex and team members are inexperienced.
Participative Leadership Achievement-oriented Leadership
The focus is on mutual participation. This technique is carried out when the tasks are complex and challenging, and when the team members want to give their inputs and feedback. Challenging goals are set for the team in this technique. The confidence lies in the team’s abilities. This technique is carried out when the tasks are unmotivated or unchallenged in their work.

Employee Characteristics

The next thing to leadership responsibilities is Employee Characteristics, which needs a deeper comprehension. Employees follow their leader’s behavior such as the degree of structure they need, affiliation, perceived level of ability, and desire for control.

Task and Environmental Characteristics

Leaders come into play when the obstacles are too strong to be handled by the team members, as overcoming obstacles is the prime focus of Path-Goal Theory. Here are few of the most difficult tasks that often arise in a team.

Design of the task – This may require the support of the leader to make important decisions.

Formal authority system – The leader can provide clear goals and/or give the employee some or all control.

Workgroup – If the team is non-supportive, the leader may bring in esprit-de-corps which can improve the team effectiveness.

As mentioned earlier, the Path-Goal Theory is one among the others. If you are really into honing your leadership and management skills, the best way is to opt for a Leadership and Training program, be it Diploma or a Certificate course. They tend to teach you the best techniques and principles.

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