Path Goal Vs. Situational Leadership Theories

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Path-Goal vs. Situational Leadership Theories


There have been numerous theories surrounding leadership, which attempt to explain which form is most effective in the workplace. A universalistic approach was once used to rationalize leadership and it was believed that successful leaders possessed certain common abilities and traits. However, today due to external factors such as globalization and advanced technologies, there has been an evolution towards a new paradigm of leadership. Subordinates want to feel empowered and engaged at the workplace and often the behaviors and relationships between leaders and their subordinates become important to understand in order to fully understand effective leadership. Contingency theories have been developed in which people began to look at the behavior of leaders in specific situations. Two such contingency theories are: Path-Goal and Hershey and Blanchard’s Situational Theory.

Path-Goal Theory

One form of a contingency approach to leadership is the Path Goal Theory, formed by Robert House. This theory states that it is the leader’s responsibility to define their organization’s goal, define the path to achieve that goal, and to remove obstacles which prevent the attainment of these goals, by increasing their subordinates’ motivation by clarifying the behaviors necessary for both personal and organizational goal attainment (Landrum & Daily, 2012).

According to Daft (p.77), a leader can motivate their

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