Path Goal Theory

The Path-Goal model is primarily concerned with identifying processes (paths) that will allow each team member to meet their individual objectives (goals). Leaders who implement this model adjust their behaviors and expectations to positively affect their team’s productivity. This goal requires the leader to be extremely flexible in their leadership style. They will have to find a way to meet each team member’s specific needs to assist them in reaching their daily or weekly goals.

The Path-Goal model focuses on improving employee motivation, autonomy and satisfaction to increase their productivity within an organization. To accomplish this, the model identifies four different leadership styles. These include:

The Directive Clarifying Leader: This style is used in situations where the leader tells employees what is expected of them and instructs them on how to perform certain tasks. The theory states that this style is the most effective when the employees’ role and task are unstructured or ambiguous.

The Achievement-Oriented Leader: This behavior occurs in situations where the leader sets lofty goals for employees, expects them to perform at a high level and shows complete confidence in their capabilities. This style is productive in environments that attract high-achievers, such as hospitals, scientific laboratories and law firms.

The Participative Leader: Leaders who use this style consult with their employees and ask for their input before making decisions. This behavior would be well-received in a workplace where the employees are personally invested in the outcome and results of their work.

The Supportive Leader: This style focuses on the satisfaction of employees’ needs and considers their personal preferences. A supportive leader is as concerned with their employees’ mental health and well-being as they are with their productivity. This style is suitable for work environments that can be stressful or mentally challenging.


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Organizational Behavior by Icfai Business School is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.