Leader Behavior and Path-Goal Theory


Path-goal theory indicates the methods of the leaders of motivating their employees. The primary target of this approach is to improve the performance of the team members of the company and the contentment of the followers by directing the efforts towards the inspiration of the workers. The central point of this attitude is focusing on the motivation and appraise of these followers and employees in different situations. From this angle, in order to be an effective leader, the person is expected to construct his style of leadership up to various circumstances that would motivate the followers. Therefore, there are different factors that affect the style of a leader.

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Annotated Bibliography

Hughes, R. (2014). Leadership: Enhancing the lessons of experience. New York. New York: McGraw-Hill Education.

Leadership: Enhancing the Lessons of Experience, 8ed includes sixteen chapters; four of them narrate the particular leadership techniques and features. The authors of the book draw upon several disparate kinds of research in order to produce a paper that is independently admissible, alluring, and educating. These types of literature are practical researches, entertaining anecdotes, narratives and findings, and leadership techniques. Leadership: Enhancing the Lessons of Experience, 8ed had been assiduously amended in every section for all practical purposes.

The strengths of the book include the biographies of several outstanding leaders such as Wait Disney, Gandhi, and Harry Truman. Moreover, the authors have provided an exceptional investigation in order to find an attentive balancing leadership performance and help the scholars to implement the gained experience and knowledge in real life.

Miner, J. (2006). Organizational behavior 1: Essential theories of motivation and leadership. Armonk, New York: M. E. Sharpe.

This extensive book presents an accurate examination and evaluation of the fundamental approaches towards organizational behavior. In extension to the preceding endeavor in this area, the author describes the decisive approaches that are needed to be understood by every student or academic in order to be viewed as a connoisseur of the given field of study. Moreover, in this book, the author provides an analysis of the groundwork of prominent logicians. Each section of a book consists of a background of a selected logician, the framework for his or her approach, the introductory and consecutive hypothetical allegations, the exploration of the approach by its author and others, and functional utilization.

The strengths of the book include the broad observation of the theory of organizational behavior, as well as a simple and understandable manner of presentation. Moreover, the paper is particularly beneficial for the students that are studying organizational behavior and organizational psychology. According to conventional opinion, the paper does not have any weaknesses.

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“The path-goal theory of leadership proposes that situational and subordinates’ characteristics moderate the effectiveness of various leader behaviors. A great deal of research has been devoted to the examination of situational moderators” (Mathieu, 1990, p. 180).

According to the research, leadership consists of the directive, supportive, participative, and achievement-oriented dimensions. A leader has to appraise his workers and determine whether they are capable of performing and fulfilling the task in order to evaluate the effects of the leadership. So, in my opinion, the situational-specific factors elect the directedness or support of the leader to meet the shifting requirements of the employees. Moreover, the influence on leadership leads to the leader’s interest in productive and efficient work, thus altering the level of the development of the workers.

The path-goal theory was firstly introduced by M. G. Evans in 1970; more precisely, the basis for the theory. In his research, the author established the relations between the standards of leader deliberation in Ohio State and the incepting leader scheme and the worker’s understanding of the path-goal relations. The researcher had discovered a backing for the theory of the behavior of the leader and its positive relations towards the follower path-goal consciousness within one company. Moreover, Evans has provided the suggestion for discoveries regarding a positive and beneficial connection between the incepting scheme of a leader and the contentment of the employees in different departments of a company, such as analytical and engineering.

Having taken the theory of Evans as a foundation for groundwork, the path-goal theory of leader efficiency was conducted in 1977 by Robert House. This approach implies that the style of behavior of a leader is conditional and dependent on the comfort, encouragement, and accomplishments of the workers.

How Does This Theory Address Organization Change?

The contingency theory implies that the efficiency of a leader is determined by his style and how it corresponds to the situation. The theory “provides a framework for effectively matching the leader and the situation” (Mind Tools, 2015, para. 2). There are three main contingency factors that affect leadership performance: the leader-worker connection, task structure, and the position power of the affected. Each of the factors defines whether the style of the leader would be developed or negatively interacted. Moreover, the theory implies that people are divided into two groups: task-motivated and relationship-motivated. Basing on this, the leader can understand in which situations different employees will be more productive. For example, people of the first category are more likely to perform their best in both beneficial and non-beneficial environment. On the other hand, the representatives of the second group are more likely to perform in fairly favorable conditions. “Individuals with a high need for achievement were demonstrated to prefer instrumental leadership, whereas individuals’ with a low need for achievement preferred supportive leader behaviors” (Cross, 2014, para. 5).

One of the main strengths of this approach is that it is established in various researches, and it is proved to be effective and compelling. Moreover, a better understanding of the leadership was achieved with the help of this approach. In other words, after the release of the theory, the researchers stopped trying to determine the single approach towards leadership and acknowledged it depends on the situation. Also, the theory has its structure and is quite predictable, so it provides information that can be useful for organizations other theories cannot. In conclusion, it doesn’t expect people to be effective in all situations. However, the main drawback of the approach is its inability to explain why certain types of leadership are more practical than the others. “A final criticism of contingency theory is that it fails to explain what organizations should do when there is a mismatch between the leader and the situation in the workplace adequately” (Keskes 2014, p. 32).

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What Are the Leader’s Behaviors and Characteristics? What Are the Follower’s Behaviors and Characteristics?

Drastic changes have occurred in the last few years in the position and duties of the leaders within the company or business establishments. Before these changes, the role of a leader was quite explicit: the person in charge stood on top of the team and gave direct and precise orders. Nonetheless, nowadays, the position of the leader has shifted as more and more companies embed the strategy of dividing the employees into teams with almost equal positions within them in order to accomplish their goals. The post of the leading person in the team of the present day is divergent from the classic direction function, as it lies in not directing and ordering the group members but in guiding and coordinating them (Miner, 2006).

One of the main roles of the modern leader is to assist the team members in receiving new information, to teach the best-known practice concerns, and to intervene in the work process at the right moment. Moreover, the leader needs to learn how to pass on the necessary knowledge, how to give comprehensive advice, and how to trust and be trusted.

The roles of the follower are limited to providing helpful and appreciable backing for the leader. Moreover, the follower has to take advice, trust, and accept the help of the leader; in other words, to maintain the credibility of the leader. There are several followers’ characteristics such as “need for affiliation, preferences for structure, desires for control, and self-perceived level of task ability” (Hughes, 2014, p. 21).

“The directive leadership aims to reduce job function ambiguity. Here, a leader gives specific expectations to workers regarding task performance. Supportive leadership implies support for a subordinate’s psychological well-being. Stress reduction and frustration mitigation are of central importance in these workplace environments. The primary goal of participative leadership is consulting with employees regarding preferences in performing job requirements. Here, subordinates are directly involved in the decision-making process. And last but not least is Achievement-oriented leadership, where a leader focuses on encouraging performance excellence by setting goals that challenge employees. Subordinate goals are designed to encourage high performance, and supervisors exhibit confidence in employees to motivate them in meeting performance goals” (Cross, 2014, para. 2).

The binary relations between the leader and the members of the team are the essence of the exchange theory, which impacts both sides. The capability of the leader is directly related to the constructive feedback from the workers. Some researchers say that followership is reflected in leadership; furthermore, these two processes cannot be isolated from each other. In the business environment, the difference between leadership and followership occurs to be rather insignificant. In order to achieve the highest efficiency, the leaders would be forced to level down and collaborate with other members of the team, while the followers would need to enhance their work and assert leadership. These processes require certain alliances and harmonious work so the company would give the best performance.

What Situational Characteristics Does This Theory Work In?

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Locus of control indicates the range to which a person considers himself to be able to administer the occurrences that are affecting him or her. An individual can have an external and internal locus of control. “People who base their success on their own work and believe they control their life have an internal locus of control. In contrast, people who attribute their success or failure to outside influences, have an external locus of control” (Locus of control, 2014, para. 3).

For instance, in the situation when an individual with an internal locus of control receives a promotion or accomplish other achievements, he would most apparently ascribe this success to the efforts and hard work he made. To be more precise, the successful outcome is directly related to the unremitting toil of a particular individual. On the contrary, if a person has an external locus of control, under the same circumstances, the foundation of success for that individual would be laid in assorted external reasons, such as good fortune, destiny, favorable predetermined course of actions, even a divine intervention and so on.

Examples of the Theory in Action

The path-goal theory has a target of motivating followers to accomplish more complicated goals. In a case where a leader chooses the right approach towards his employees, the path-goal theory will prove its efficiency and allow the workers to achieve the designated targets. For example, in a company where a significant amount of workers are employed part-time, a leader should provide them with direction and support while not forgetting about the full-time staff. When most of the employees are working part-time, a leader is obliged to help students to schedule their work time around their studying and resolve the schedule conflicts in general. Moreover, a good leader will not find any small conflict and will offer his help and guidance for every employee in order to meet the needs of his team. As a result, everyone would feel included and appreciated; and, therefore, the team would become more motivated and effective.

Another example of the path-goal theory is the observations of the work of different people by the same team. For instance, one team of employees has three different supervisors. Three people have chosen different methods of leadership; as a result, a team appears to be more effective on the shift of those supervisors, who selected motivating his employees instead of adopting the same techniques on every worker.


Cross, V. (2014). The path-goal theory of leadership in companies. Web.

Hughes, R. (2014). Leadership: Enhancing the lessons of experience. New York. New York: McGraw-Hill Education.

Keskes, I. (2014). Relationship between leadership styles and dimensions of employee organizational commitment: A critical review and discussion of future dimensions. Intangible Capital 10(1), 26-51.

Locus of control: Definition and examples of internal and external. (2013). Web.

Mathieu, J. (1990). A test of subordinates’ achievement and affiliation needs as moderators of leader path-goal relationships. Basic and Applied Social Psychology, 11(2), 179-189.

Mind Tools. (2015). The Hersey-Blanchard situational leadership theory. Web.

Miner, J. (2006). Organizational behavior 1: Essential theories of motivation and leadership. Armonk, New York: M. E. Sharpe.

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