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Path-Goal Theory Essay

Purpose: Leadership is the key to the success of organizations, businesses or individuals. While the leaders are important, so are the subordinates. This article digs deep into the leader-subordinate relationships, what are the expectations from the leader, what are the various kind of leadership styles and how each styles impacts the subordinates. There have been immense amount of researches done on the topic of leadership and impact on subordinates.

One theory ‘Expectancy theory’ states that and individual’s attitude (eg. Satisfaction with supervision or job satisfaction) or behavior (e.g. leader behavior or job effort) can be predicted from 1) the degree to which the job or behavior is seen as leading to various outcomes (expectancy and 2) the evaluation of these outcomes. Our interest on any project basically depends on the expected outcome. I want to relate this theory to a different kind of topic. I have observed, peoples’ passion for a certain “demand” goes down after they don’t see an outcome from the authorities. A good example could be the “Immigration Protests”. The proponents of “path to citizenship” and illegal aliens did protests etc. several times between 2008-2011. These protests were more common and passionate in President Obama’s previous tenure.

But since nothing has come out even after several years of unrelenting protests, debates and voting on numerous immigration bills in the congress, I feel now that they are exhausted and not very positive this time around. The Path-Goal Theory of Leadership suggests that effective leadership affects subordinates’ motivation and their ability to perform. The theory proposes that leaders behavior is acceptable to subordinates as far as it is a source of satisfaction also leaders behavior is motivational for the subordinates if it helps the subordinates to perform better or it provides coaching, guidance, support or reward for effective performance.

Considering these propositions Path-Goal theory suggest that leader’s main functions are to enhance subordinates’ motivation to perform, satisfaction with the job and acceptance of the leader. Leader’s Function: Path-Goal Theory and other leadership-Subordinate theories describes there are several strategic function of the leader which consists of 1) recognize and arouse subordinates’ needs for outcomes over which the leader has some control. 2) Setup a rewarding system after achievement of certain objectives 3) Make the path to achieve easier by participation, or supporting them

4) remove barriers 5) Give more opportunities that motivates them. Leadership Behavior: There are four important leadership behaviors that are discussed in the article, Supportive, directive, participative and achievement oriented. The research suggested that supportive leadership works best in the stressful & frustrating conditions also when the tasks given to subordinates are not satisfying. Leader’s directiveness is found to be positive when tasks are ambiguous and directions are not clear.

In this scenario subordinates gets information from the directions and have more information how to achieve the task while directive nature of the leadership has a negative effect when the tasks are clear, it kind-of frustrates the subordinates. A study by House, Valency and Van Der Krabben suggested that “Achievement Oriented leadership”, has positive effects on the workers who does non-repetitive and ambiguous jobs, the reason behind workers satisfaction could be their belief that good performance could mean better payoffs. While it seems that “Achievement-oriented” leadership has no or very little effect on the subordinates who does repetitive or “clearly outlined” tasks.

There is one more reason that is provided in the article is about the nature of the people who does non-repetitive and more ambiguous jobs. These people may be IT professionals or white collar jobs who may get more flexibility and autonomy while working for achievement-oriented tasks. Mitchell described four ways in which Participative Leadership affects subordinates’ behavior, first a participative climate increases the clarity of the tasks, organizational contingencies etc. Secondly it gives a choice to the subordinates to pick their goals they are able to see what they value more and how they can achieve it.

Thirdly when the leader participates with the subordinates they get more involved in the process and subordinates get more ownership of the work. The fourth impact is a result of the third point, when subordinates starts to feel to get “ownership” of the work, then they starts feeling the pressure for high performance due to inner conscience. I think it is a very good article as it is very relevant to our daily work be it professional or personal challenges. It clearly shows the path for the leadership style you should take for managing your subordinates and ultimately reach your organization’s and your personal goals.

1)Discussion: Can people, who hold certain personality traits, fit in situation where a different kind of leadership is required? For example a “micromanager”, who has a directive nature, will he be able to fit in the situation where the subordinates’ job is stressful and tasks are dissatisfying. 2)How can these researches be used when companies are hiring managers? Do they need to first layout the kind of the work company does and then they should interview people and try to find out the personality traits and their leadership style and then map it with what is best for the organizations’ environment. 3)Can there be leaders who have all the leadership styles ie. Directive, Supportive, Participative and Achievement Oriented?

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