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Path-goal theory

Path-goal theory, which states that the leader’s job is to assist followers in attaining their goals and to provide direction or support needed to ensure that their goals are compatible with the goals of the group or organization. Developed by Robert House, path-goal theory takes key elements from the expectancy theory of motivation. The term path-goal is derived from the belief that effective leaders clarify the path to help their followers get from where they are to the achievement of their work goals and make the journey long the path easier by reducing roadblocks and pitfalls.

House identified four leadership behaviors:

  • Directive leader- The leader lets subordinates know what’s expected of them, schedules work to be done, and gives specific guidance on how to accomplish tasks.
  • Supportive leader- The leader shows concern for the needs of followers and is friendly.
  • Participative leader –The leader consults with group members and uses their suggestions before making a decision.
  • Achievement oriented leader- The leader sets challenging goals and expects followers to perform at their highest level.
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