Leadership is the quality in a person by virtue of which the person leads others towards the achievement of goals. Among the various leadership theories, the Path-Goal theory of leadership is one of the most prominent one.
The Path-Goal leadership theory is based on a specific leadership style that is best suitable for the employees as well as the organization. This leadership theory aims at increasing the employee motivation, along with empowering the employees to work diligently, towards the fulfilment of the organizations goals and objectives. The Path-Goal theory is based on the Expectancy theory of Vroom. According to (Avery & Ryan, 2002), the path goal theory have been popularized in the past two decades. This theory of leadership has received much importance and attention for the application in the organization. The path goal theory has a major role to play in the enhancement of the performance of the employees along with motivating them. The motivational function of the leader, as described in this theory includes the increase in the payoff of the employees, clarification of the path of the payoffs, reduction of the barriers that hinder the achievement of the organizational goals (Avery & Ryan, 2002). The increases in the opportunity of the satisfaction of the subordinates are also included in the motivational functions, as given by the Path-Goal theory. This theory highlights that path is the expectations of the employees and the goals are the performance of the employees. The theories have empirical support and essential in supporting the needs of the organization as well as the employees.
The Path-Goal theory highlights the fact that the effects of the leaders on the employees are controlled by situational variables. These variables are characterized into two categories. These are the characteristics of the environment and the characteristics of the employees (Evans, 1970). However, as opined by (Chemers, 2014), the characteristics of the task also play an essential role in the affecting the leadership on the employees. The task characteristics include the structure of the task, the job role, the ambiguity in the role, the scope of the role. The characteristics of the employees include the dependence on the employees, the authoritarianism, the locus of the control and the ability of the employees (Avery & Ryan, 2002). Most of the researchers are of the opinion that the task structure plays the most essential role in the Path-Goal theory.
The Path-goal theory of leadership highlights the fact that the employees who perform well receive more rewards than the employees who perform poorly. Thus, the top performing employees are motivated and work towards achievement of excellence (Evans, 1970). The four leadership behavioural styles include the directive leadership, supportive leadership, participative leadership and the achievement-orientated leadership.
This kind of leadership behaviour focuses on the basic task oriented approach. Under this leadership style, the goals are clarified, the procedures and policies of the organization are followed and the performances of the employees are monitored (Evans, 1970). Moreover, the use of rewards and punishments are also given to the employees according to their performances (Avery & Ryan, 2002).
This kind of a leadership model is a relationship-oriented model. This theory emphasises on the relationship with the employees (Dinh et al., 2014). Being nice and friendly with the employees and showing due respect to the subordinates are integral part of this kind of leadership. The leaders need to provide care and support to the employees and help them to achieve the organizational goals successfully.
This form of leadership encourages the employees to participate in the process of decision making in the organization (Avery & Ryan, 2002). The consultations of the employees make them feel important, along with encouraging new suggestions from the employees (House, 1996). The employees are also encouraged to be creative, under this leadership style.
Achievement Orientated Leadership
The achievement-orientated leadership sets goals and challenges to be fulfilled by the employees along with continuous improvement of the performance of the employees to work towards the achievement of excellence (Goswami et al., 2014).
The Path-Goal leadership model highlights the leadership behaviours such as the directive, supportive, participative and the achievement-oriented behaviour. The effectiveness of the leader includes the employee motivation, employee satisfaction and the leadership acceptance. The leadership model becomes ineffective if the employee characteristics changes. As highlighted by (Goswami et al., 2014), the relationships among the leadership behaviour and the satisfaction of the employees, are moderate by the use of the instrument that is used to measured the leadership behaviours. Thus, the Path-Goal leadership model has a key role to play in the achievement of the organizational goals among the employees.
The major limitation is if the behaviour of the leader is ineffective, then the Path-Goal theory becomes redundant. Thus, the behaviour of the leader plays an essential role in this theory. Moreover, the lack of effective behaviour of the employees also makes the theory less effective and less usable (Dinh et al., 2014). Another limitation of this theory is that, if there is misinterpretation between the employees and the leaders, and then this theory cannot be applied successfully. The effectiveness of this leadership theory is lost, if the employees and the leaders do not cooperate with each other (Polston-Murdoch, 2013).
The Path-Goal theory of leadership has been effective for me. Under this leadership, my leader practiced the principles of supportive and directive leadership. By using the directive leadership, my team leader ensured that I understood all the requirements of the task given to me. My leader ensured that my job role was clear to me (Daft, 2014). With the support of my leader, I was able to understand what exactly I had to do. Thus, using the leadership theory, my leader assisted me well.
However, I faced another incident where my leader was not supportive. I had confusion and in the lack of clarity, I made several mistakes. My leader, instead of encouraging me, discouraged me that I will not be able to perform well. This de-motivated me and I felt low at my workplace. With the change in the leadership style, the issue with the leader was mitigated.
My leader used the supportive leadership style also to support my colleagues and me. He kept on reminding me that I am capable of achieving the goals, set for me. This acted as a motivation in me and I was encouraged to work even more diligently. This support was essential for me as the work pressure often de-motivated me (Polston-Murdoch, 2013). My leader assisted me and encouraged me to work harder to achieve the organizational goals successfully. Whenever, I had to stay back at office due to the completion of the work, my leader ensured to stay back with me as well. This resulted in giving me encouragement as well as motivation.
Along with the adequate support, I got rewards and recognition for my hard work. As I worked hard, i received bonus and incentives. These rewards were much more than the other employees who were not diligent and hard workers. Thus, I got encouragement and the rewards acted as a motivation to work for the successful achievement of the organizational goals. Thus, the Path-Goal theory is an important theory and helped me to be successful in my career. My weaknesses in leading the people effectively are mitigated and my leadership skills are also enhanced.
The Path-Goal theory is an effective and useful leadership theory that had a lot of knowledge to be imparted. The main and most essential learning imparted by the use of this theory is the achievement of the motivation of the employees (Vecchio, Justin & Pearce, 2008). The rewards and recognition policy, that is effective in achieving employee satisfaction and employee motivation. I have learned about the significance of effective leadership (McCleskey, 2014). The effective leadership and the enhancement of the employee motivation are learned from the Path-Goal theory. The importance of this theory lies in the fact that using this theory, the employees are effectively rewarded according to their performances (Wofford & Liska, 1993). Hence, employee motivation is achieved successfully. The effective leadership requires efficient communication. Hence, the communication is enhanced by the application of the leadership (Marion & Gonzales, 2013). The importance of understanding the needs of the employees along with the need for motivation is realised (Tyssen, Wald & Spieth, 2014). For example, if the leaders provide more information and relevant information, than needed for the task, the employees will get de-motivated. Hence, the leaders need to identify the exact needs of the employees (Van Wart, 2014). Moreover, the employees need proper assistance from the leader as well as motivation in order to work efficiently. These learning could be applied in future. This learning has assisted me in modifying my behaviour and ensures that I work diligently under the motivation of my leader. Moreover, if I am given a leadership role, I will ensure that I follow the Path-Goal theory to motivate my subordinates. Thus, I am enriched professionally, along with enhancement of my leadership qualities.
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