The Path-Goal theory is explained and application of the model is discussed with attention given to the continuing education of medical professional’s serving as an illustration. Consideration of the similarities between the four leadership styles identified in the Path-Goal model and those outline in the Situational Leadership model are explained. After consideration of the similarities a reporting of insights gain from personal application of the Path-Goal questionnaire found in Northouse (2007) is given.
Path-Goal theory seeks to educate leaders in using the expectancy theory to improve employee performance and satisfaction. Management scholar Robert House (as cited in Knight, Shteynberg, & Hanges, 2004, p. 1164) summed up the theory by stating “leaders, to be effective, engage in behaviors that complement subordinates’ environments and abilities in a manner that compensates for deficiencies and is instrumental to subordinate satisfaction and individual and work unit performance”. This synopsis includes the major components of the theory. A leader’s behavior, the subordinates’ environment and abilities, and the task characteristics, are all being used to motivate individuals to complete goals. This definition also reflects the 1994 revision to the theory that included the importance of group leadership (Knight et. al, 2004).
Application of the Theory
Northouse (2007) suggests that leaders can use this theory to identify what subordinates need to accomplish their goals. By increasing the number and varieties of the rewards, removing obstacles to the goal, illuminating the pathway through guidance and coaching, and making the work more personally satisfying, leaders will be more effective.
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Changingminds.org. (2010). Path-Goal theory of leadership. Retrieved May 24, 2010, from http://changingminds.org/disciplines/leadership/styles/path_goal_leadership.htm.
Fox, R., & Miner, C. (1999). Motivation and the facilitation of change, learning, and participation in educational programs. Journal of Continuing Education in the Health Professions, 19(3), 132. Retrieved from Education Research Complete database.
Knight, A., Shteynberg, G., & Hanges, P. (2004). Path-Goal analysis. In George Goethals, Georgia Sorenson & James Burns (Eds.) Encyclopedia of Leadership, Vol. 3. (1164-1169). Thousand Oaks: Sage Reference. Retrieved May 21, 2010, from Gale Virtual Reference Library via Gale.
Northouse, P. (2007). Leadership theory and practice. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications
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