Path Goal Leadership Theory

What is it?

Path Goal Leadership Theory or path-goal theory of leader effectiveness or the path-goal model was developed in describing leader’s dependency to the satisfaction, motivation and performance of his followers. It was establish to describe how leaders inspire and upkeep the goals achieved by his or her subordinates by setting a path that they should precede.

Specifically, leaders must guide his or her subordinates on which path to go, eliminate barriers that would come on their way, acknowledging any good deed or efforts done by the subordinates.

Robert House

Who develop it?

Path Goal Leadership theory was developed by Robert House. The theory was based on the belief that subordinates insight of effort and performance has to do with the leader’s performance and behavior.

Leaders support their subordinates in in their goals by helping in achieving their rewards and eliminating hindrances that comes along the way by supplying information which are necessary to finished a task or job.

When the leader’s behavior is dependent on performance, and the leader assist, instructs and gives rewards to good performance, the behavior is then acceptable to the followers. Path goal theory recognizes 4 behaviors of the leaders, theses are:


  • Achievement-oriented leadership behavior

The leader set goals that would stimulate subordinates and improve self and work. High values and morals are established and greatly expected. In order for the follower to succeed, the leader must show to his subordinates trust and confidence that the follower maybe able to do the task.


  • Participative leadership behavior

Participative leadership behavior is allowing subordinates to take their part and ideas in making decisions and actions. Leaders take followers ideas in account. This leadership approach is best when followers are already expert, experienced and confident.


  • Supportive leadership behavior

This approach is best for novice and beginners. The leaders support the subordinates all the way. He/she considers the needs and concerns of the followers whereby creating a friendly environment. This approach increases employee’s self confidence.


  • Directive leadership behavior

Directive leadership behavior is an approach where the leaders give directions to the followers. He/she directs his subordinates on what to do, when to do, and when the task should be done. Leaders guide their subordinates on the task, making sure that they are correct.

This approach is suited for difficult situations and when the employee has little experience.

Path goal leadership theory shoulders that leaders must be able to change their leadership style when the situation calls for it. Attitude and environment of each of the follower are the two things that the leader has no control of. With these, the leader must be able to adjust and be flexible to the situation.

The path goal leadership theory prompts the leaders to be consistent in their role. They must be a role model to their followers since they are looked up to. They have to instill in their mind that their role is very important in molding their followers to become good follower, as to the saying “a good leader, is a good follower”. The theory creates a map to the leaders on how they are going to increase followers satisfaction and performance level.



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