The Path Goal Theory of Leadership

2659 Words Mar 20th, 2009 11 Pages
The term path-goal is derived from the belief that effective leaders clarify the path to help their followers get from where they are to the achievement of their work goals and make the journey along the path easier by reducing roadblocks and pitfalls (Robbins 2001, p. 229).

The path-goal theory developed by Robert House is based on the expectancy theory of motivation. The leader 's job is viewed as coaching or guiding workers to choose the best paths for reaching their goals. "Best" is judged by the accompanying achievement of organizational goals. It is based on the precepts of goal setting theory and argues that leaders will have to engage in different types of leadership behavior depending on the nature and demands of the particular
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Locus of control refers to the individual perception of attribution of reasons to outcomes as internal (one 's own behavior) or external. For subordinates with internal locus of control a participative leader may be better suited because they feel that their own efforts make a difference. A directive leader is better for subordinates with an external locus of control (since they perceive their efforts to be of little consequence).

Perceived ability pertains to how individuals view their own ability with respect to the task. Subordinates who rate themselves as having high ability are less likely to need directive leadership.

The environmental characteristics are task structure, the formal authority system and the primary work group. The path-goal theory will motivate subordinates if it helps them cope with environmental uncertainty created by the environmental characteristics. In certain environments certain kinds of leadership becomes redundant like when working on a task that has a high structure, directive leadership tends to be redundant and hence less effective. Similarly, when subordinates are in a team environment that offers great social support, the supportive leadership style becomes less necessary. The subordinates ' motivation to perform will be influenced by the extent to which the leader behavior matches the people and the environment in a situation.

The path goal theory says that the behavior of leaders is used to stimulate the
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