Path-Goal Theory
(House)

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Offering paths to achieve goals. Explanation of Path-Goal Theory of Robert House. ('71)


What is the Path-Goal Theory? Description

This idea of Robert House holds that a leader can affect the performance, satisfaction, and motivation of a group by:

  • Offering rewards for achieving performance goals,
  • Clarifying paths towards these goals,
  • Removing obstacles to performance.

However, whether leadership behavior can do so effectively also depends on situational factors.
 

Situational Factors of the Path-Goal Theory

  • Subordinates' Personality
    • Locus of Control. A participative leader is suitable for subordinates with internal locus of control; A directive leader is suitable for subordinates with external locus of control.
    • Self-perceived ability. Subordinates that believe they have a high ability themselves, do not like directive leadership. Compare: Attribution Theory
  • Characteristics of the environment:
    • When a group is working on a task that has a high structure, directive leadership is redundant and less effective.
    • When a highly formal authority system is in place, directive leadership can again reduce workers' satisfaction.
    • When subordinates are in a team environment offering great social support, the supportive leadership style becomes less necessary.

According to House, there are four different types of leadership styles depending on the situation.


Four Leadership Styles (House)

  1. Directive Leadership. The leader gives specific guidance of performance to subordinates. Compare: Theory of Needs
  2. Supportive Leadership. The leader is friendly and shows concern for the subordinates.
  3. Participative Leadership. The leader consults with subordinates and considers their suggestions.
  4. Achievement-oriented Leadership. The leader sets high goals and expects subordinates to have high-level performance.

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