Another contingency model of leadership was developed by management profes≠sor Robert House as a product of the expectancy theory of motivation. Path-goal theory is so named because it is concerned with how a leader affects subordinatesí perceptions of their personal and work goals and the paths to goal attainment. It considers leaders effective to the degree that their behaviour increases employees' attainment of goals and clarifies paths to these goals. What behaviours will help to accomplish these positive results depend on two aspects: leader behaviour and situational factors.
Path-goal theory recognizes four major types of behaviour:
1. Directive Leadership: As with situational leadership theory, directive behaviours include giving task guidance, scheduling work, maintaining standards, and clarifying expectations.
2. Supportive Leadership: Leaders concentrate on being approachable, showing concern for employees' well-being, doing little things to make the work environment more pleasant, and helping to satisfy employees' personal needs.
3. Participative Leadership: Leaders consult with subordinates, solicit suggestions, and seriously consider their input when making decisions.
4. Achievement-Oriented Leadership: Leaders set challenging goals, expect high performance, constantly seek improved performance, and show confidence in employees' ability to accomplish goals.
At different times and under different conditions, any of these leader behaviours may be most effective. Unlike Fiedler's model, path-goal theory assumes that leaders can adapt their styles to meet the demands of the situation or needs of subordinates to gain favourable results from them.
Path-goal theory proposes that two classes of situational factors affect what leadership behaviours are appropriate: (1) employees' personal characteristics, and (2) environmental pressures and demands with which the employee must cope to accomplish the goal.
One important personal characteristic is an individual's locus of control (LOC), the extent to which a person believes he or she has control over what happens to him or her in life. Individuals who have an internal locus of control believe they largely control what happens to them; those with an external LOC believe that their lives are more controlled by fate, luck, chance, or significant other people. Consider Sarah, who has done poorly on a management test. If Sarah has an internal LOC, she will probably say her poor grade is due to not studying hard enough, but if she has an external LOC, she may attribute the poor grade to bad luck or an unfair professor. An individual with an internal locus of control may require less directive behaviour than one with an external LOC.
Another personal factor is an employee's belief in his or her own ability to perform the task. People with low confidence in their ability would likely respond better to directive behaviour.
Environmental characteristics include (1) the nature of the task structure, (2) the formal authority of the situation, and (3) the nature of main work groups. Although there are many propositions concerning how situational characteristics, personal characteristics, and leader behaviours interact to influence employees, the general premise of the path-goal theory is that the leader should apply whatever behaviour that helps to provide more positive rewards for employees, strengthen their belief that their effort will lead to goal accomplishment and positive rewards, or make rewards more dependent on goal accomplishment. Table 6 demonstrates several ways in which this may happen.
Path-goal theory has been very beneficial by pointing out a number of important situational contingency variables not dealt with in other theories: it also points out the important motivational consequences of leader style on subordinate attitudes, beliefs, and behaviours.
1. Which of these statements expresses the main idea of the text?
a) Path-goaltheory is concerned with how a leader affects subordinatesí perceptions of their personal and work goals and the paths to goal attainment.
b) Path-goal theory assumes that leaders can adapt their styles to meet the demands of the situation or needs of sub≠ordinates to gain favourable results from them.
c) Path-goal theory proposes that two classes of situational fac≠tors affect what leadership behaviours are appropriate: (1) employees' personal characteristics, and (2) environmental pressures and demands with which the employee must cope to accomplish the goal.
d) The general premise of the path-goal theory is that the leader should apply whatever behaviour that helps to provide more positive rewards for employees, strengthen their belief that their effort will lead to goal accomplishment and positive rewards, or make rewards more dependent on goal accomplishment.
3. Are these statements true or false? Correct the false ones.
a) Leaders are thought to be effective if their behaviour increases employees' accomplishment of goals and explains ways to these goals.
b) Directive leaders give task advice, plan work, take care of complying with standards, and explain would-be results.
c) Supportive leaders are friendly, they show concern for employees' welfare, try to make the work environment more enjoyable, and help to satisfy employees' per≠sonal needs.
d) Participative leaders seek advice from persons in charge, ask for ideas, and seriously consider their contribution when making decisions.
e) Achievement-oriented leaders set easy goals, expect excellent performance, try to get superior performance, and show belief in employees' ability to achieve goals.
f) An individual's locus of control shows that a person has doubts as to his or her ability to control what hap≠pens to him or her in life.
g) Individuals who have an internal locus of control consider that fate, luck, chance, or significant other people control their lives.
h) If Sarah has an external LOC, she will almost certainly say that her poor mark is because she did not study hard enough.
i) People with low confidence in their ability are expected to respond better to participative leadership.
j) Environmental characteristics include three factors.
k) Path-goal theory called attention to some essential situational contingency variables not considered in other theories.
4. Answer the questions.
a) What theory of motivation is path-goal theory based on?
b) What two factors do positive results in employees' achievement of goals depend on?
c) What types of behaviour does path goal theory acknowledge?
d) What do individuals with external LOC consider?
e) What reasons would Sarah give to explain her failure at a management test if she had an internal LOC?
f) Does a person with an external LOC require more directive behaviour then a person with an internal locus of control?
g) What motivational effect does leader style have on subordinates, according to path-goal theory?