A path goal approaches to Leadership

Like other contingency approaches, the path goal model of leadership tries to help us understand and predict leadership effectiveness in different situations. The model was formulated by Martin G Evans and Robert J House.

The path goal approach is based on the expectancy model of motivation which states an individual’s motivation depends on his or her expectation of reward and the valence, or attractiveness of the reward. Although managers have a number of ways to influence employees, Evans notes the most important is their ability to provide rewards and to specify what employees must do to earn them. Thus, managers determine the availability of “goals” (rewards) and the “paths” that will earn them.

Evans suggests that a manager’s leadership style influences the rewards available to employees, as well as employees’ perception of the path to those rewards. An employee centered manger for example will offer not only pay and promotion, but also support, encouragement, security and respect. Those types of manager will also be sensitive to differences between employees and will tailor rewards to the individual. A task oriented manager, on the other hand will offer a narrower , less individualized set of rewards, but will usually be much better at linking employee performance to rewards than an employee centered manager. Employees of a task oriented manager will know exactly what productivity or performance level they must attain to get bonuses, salary increases, or promotions. Evans believes that the leadership style most effective in motivating employee depends on the types of rewards they most desire.

House and his colleagues have tried to expand the path goal theory by identifying two variables that help determine the most effective leadership style: the personal characteristics of employees and the environmental pressures and demands in the work placed with which employees must cope.

Personal Characteristics:

The leadership style employees prefer will be, according to House, partially determined by their personal characteristics. He cites studies suggesting that individuals who believe their behavior affects the environment favor a participatory leadership style, while those who believe events occur because of luck or fate tend to find an authoritarian style more congenial.

Employees’ evaluations of their own ability will also influence their style preference. Those who feel highly skilled and capable may resent an overly supervisory manager, whose directives will be seen as counterproductive rather than helpful. On the other hand, employees who feel skilled may prefer amore directive manager, who will be seen as enabling them to carry out their tasks properly and earn organizational rewards.

Environmental Pressures:

Environmental factors also affect the leadership styles preferred by employees. One such factor is the nature of the employees’ tasks. For example, an overly directive style may seem redundant and even insulting for a highly structured task. If a task is unpleasant, however, a manager’s consideration may add to the employee’s satisfaction and motivation. Another factor is the organization’s formal authority system, which clarifies which actions are likely to be met with approval (coming in under budget, say) and which with disapproval (coming in over budget). A third environmental factor is the employees’ work group. Groups that are not very cohesive, for example usually benefit from a supportive, understanding style. As a general rule, a leader’ style will motivate employees to the extent that it compensates them for what they see as deficiencies in the task, authority system or work group.

All Managers obtain the necessary information from subordinate(s) then decide on the solution to the problem themselves. They may or may not tell subordinates what the problem is when they request information. The role played by subordinates in making the decision is clearly one of providing the necessary information to managers rather than generating or evaluating alternative solutions.

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