- Published: January 26, 2022
- Updated: January 26, 2022
- Language: English
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The Path-Goal Theory of Leadership was developed to describe the way that leaders encourage and support their followers in achieving the goals they have been set by making the path that they should take clear and easy.
In particular, leaders:
Clarify the path so subordinates know which way to go.
Remove roadblocks that are stopping them going there.
Increasing the rewards along the route.
Leaders can take a strong or limited approach in these. In clarifying the path, they may be directive or give vague hints. In removing roadblocks, they may scour the path or help the follower move the bigger blocks. In increasing rewards, they may give occasional encouragement or pave the way with gold.
This variation in approach will depend on the situation, including the follower’s capability and motivation, as well as the difficulty of the job and other contextual factors. House and Mitchell (1974) describe four styles of leadership:
Considering the needs of the follower, showing concern for their welfare and creating a friendly working environment. This includes increasing the follower’s self-esteem and making the job more interesting. This approach is best when the work is stressful, boring or hazardous.
Telling followers what needs to be done and giving appropriate guidance along the way. This includes giving them schedules of specific work to be done at specific times. Rewards may also be increased as needed and role ambiguity decreased (by telling them what they should be doing).
This may be used when the task is unstructured and complex and the follower is inexperienced. This increases the follower’s sense of security and control and hence is appropriate to the situation.
Consulting with followers and taking their ideas into account when making decisions and taking particular actions. This approach is best when the followers are expert and their advice is both needed and they expect to be able to give it.
Setting challenging goals, both in work and in self-improvement (and often together). High standards are demonstrated and expected. The leader shows faith in the capabilities of the follower to succeed. This approach is best when the task is complex.
1. (b) Situational theory
The situational theory of leadership and the LEAD instruments for determining leadership style are explained, and the application of the situational leadership theory to the process of planning for and implementing organizational change is described. Early studies of leadership style identified two basic leadership styles: the task-oriented autocratic style and the relationship-oriented democratic style. Subsequent research found that most leaders exhibited one of four combinations of task and relationship behaviours. The situational leadership theory holds that the difference between the effectiveness and ineffectiveness of the four leadership styles is the appropriateness of the leader’s behaviour to the particular situation in which it is used. The task maturity of the individual or group being led must also be accounted for; follower readiness is defined in terms of the capacity to set high but attainable goals, willingness or ability to accept responsibility, and possession of the necessary education or experience for a specific task. A person’s leadership style, range, and adaptability can be determined from the LEAD self and LEAD other questionnaires. By applying the principles of the situational leadership theory and adapting their managerial styles to specific tasks and levels of follower maturity, the authors were successful in implementing 24-hour pharmacokinetic dosing services provided by staff pharmacists with little previous experience in clinical services. The situational leadership model enables a leader to identify a task, set goals, determine the task maturity of the individual or group, select an appropriate leadership style, and modify the style as change occurs. Pharmacy managers can use this model when implementing clinical pharmacy services.
The Situational Leadership Theory suggests that effective leadership requires both acts of “ leadership” and “ management.” Depending on the level of each of these acts necessary, four different styles of leadership can be utilized. These are delegating, coaching, directing, and supporting. For a leader to be purposeful in their direction, they must use the correct style by being able to evaluate a follower’s readiness level. In other words, they must “ meet a follower where they are.”
A follower’s readiness level is determined by two factors. The first is the level of ability to do what is needed. The second is the level of willingness to do what is needed. The diagram above will aid you in identifying your officer’s readiness level.
Once the officer’s readiness level is defined, you will be able to determine what style of leadership will lend the best results when you are advising. An advisor that is capable of adjusting his/her style to meet the needs of the officer will be much more effective.
1. (c) Behavioural theory
Logically, behavioural theory complements the flaws in trait theory because putting together what leader are naturally and what they do seem to pretty much encompass every dimensions of leadership. One important appeal of behavioural theory is that if we know what leaders do, then it is possible to teach people leadership. So in theory everyone is capable of become a leader if they learn leadership properly. Now, to discuss about what leaders do is quite a daunting task. Most of the books and journals we read on organisational learning, effective management which talks about listening, empowering, and inspiring people are on this subject. They are all by in large stylistically prescriptive while ignoring the situational aspect of leadership (Maurik 2001). The leadership style that works in one situation may not work at all in another situation. Churchill’s great leadership during WWII didn’t carry his premiership afloat after the war ended (Maurik 2001). However, despite being limited in this way, behavioural theory can still shed light on how we understand leadership. If you wish to read up more about it, there are two seminal research studies on this subject (Bake and Mouton 1964; Tannenbaum and Schmidt 1958 cited in Maurik 2001). One is by Bake and Mouton in 1964 who defined leadership behaviours in task-relationship oriented dichotomy (cited in Maurik 2001). This is looking at management approaches which are “ focused on finishing assigned tasks with little concern for follower’s human needs” on the one hand (Task) and “ creating a friendly atmosphere of work but fail to deliver on output” on the other (Relationship). Their key findings are that the task/relationship oriented leadership in practice is not a case of either/or scenario. In fact, effective leaders utilise both approaches by fitting to the management needs of given people situation (cited in Maurik 2001). What I find interesting about this is the ‘ middle of the road’ approach which involves a ‘ balanced need for task accomplishment and maintaining healthy relationships’ style of leadership is despite being “ politically expedient” (Maurik 2001 pp12) (in another word makes everyone happy) but is unlikely to initiate changes in the status quo (Maurik 2001).
There are two main theories of Leadership Behaviour, Transaction and Transformation. This is what we call the “ X” dimension of behaviour leadership theory.
X Dimension runs from Transactional to transformational leadership, as studied by Burns (1978) and Bass (1985). The debate rages, is this one dimension or two? This is a classic dualism in leadership studies. Burns looked at modal thinking (the means over ends reasoning) in the early stages of development and held these leaders to be “ transactional” in their behaviours. Transactional leadership “ requires a shrewd eye for opportunity, a good hand at bargaining, persuading, reciprocating” (Burns, 1978: 169). A “ transformational leader,” on the other hand, “ recognizes and exploits an existing need or demand of a potential follower… (and) looks for potential motives in followers, seeks to satisfy higher needs, and engages the full person of the follower”. Eventually transformational leaders were thought to engage in behaviours that changed the game, even changed the world.
In the Theatre approach, leader behaviours are viewed as plots (grasping together characters, behaviours, and events)
Y Dimension From the Will to Server to the Nietzschean Will to Power. Again, is this one dimension or two? The Will to Power is specifically excluded from transaction and transformational leader theory by both Burns and Bass. I therefore treat it as a second dimension of leadership. It is quite silly study leadership as just a well to serve; many leaders pursue power, some are able to do good things with it, others are swallowed by power. Nietzsche wrote about Will-to-Power (WTP) and Thus Spoke Zarathustra (TSZ) as having something to do with the will to initiate and implement a goal as well as the more macro construct of Darwin’s theory of natural section, the power to transform the inherited advantages from generation to generation (WTP #362). And WTP is also a Will to Truth (TSZ, pp. 28, 113). The WTP is a will to overcome the small people, “ they are the superman’s greatest danger” (TSZ, p. 287). And the super leader is not satisfied with the happiness of the greatest number of workers or consumers (TSZ, p. 287). The Super leaders sees the abyss with the eyes of an eagle and grasps the abyss of poverty and misery with the talons of an eagle (TSZ, p. 288).
Participation is from monophonic (single voice) to (polyphonic) involvement in leadership. Some leaders cultivate one voice, their own, and other leaders are more pluralistic, able to create polyphonic and more participative leadership.
First – there was one voice -In bureaucratic theatre, there is mostly monologue. In bureaucratic leadership, for example, there is mostly monologue; other voices are there on the stage but forbidden to speak, or they can only be whispered, their words un-hearable, drowned out by the one official narrator who is authorized to take centre-stage and speak and speak some more. As Kirkeby (2000: 232) argues it is the right of power to narrate events, to declare them romantic, tragic, comedic, or ironic, and then of course make them all into a romantic narratives that fits the bureaucratic pension for monophonic (single voiced) influence. For any other voice to speak would be an act of bureaucratic espionage; certainly for the secretary to speak would be unthinkable rebellion.
Second – there were two voices – In the Quest two or more players take the stage, but it is rarely more than dialog. In dialogue the “ I” and the “ Other” take the stage and we hear voices, but little reflection. It is no longer the monologue of the I declaring the Other as villain. The Other gets to speak and be heard by the ‘ I.”
Third – there were three voices – To me, this voice that Kirkeby describes is the same one discovered long ago by Adam Smith. Smith looked at global capitalism and say that without ethics events might well follow a logic of the market place that would not lead to ethical relations among buyer and seller, employer and employed, monopolist and entrepreneur. It is the internal spectator, the voice that speaks to us while observing the First and Second (the I and the Other) rehearse there dialogue on the stage in our mind’s eye. And in this model, even two actors on the stage visualize the dialogue of the Triad in their own head, but as well in the head of the other.
Fourth – then there were four voices – This is a very special voice, one we sense is about to speak but does not, one that is on the stage but stays in the shadows. In the Fourth, “ the event is never over and done with” (Kirkeby, 2000: 237). And with the about to speak voice of the Fourth, we are intuitively aware of the simulation and almost can here the polyphony of voices, a mob about to take storm the stage. We may hear a groan, a murmur, a mumbling sound, but we can never quite make out the words. We can sense somehow the bureaucratic machine, the quest journey, and even chaos itself are just mythic metaphors some people have speculated and articulated about the web of human events (web is yet another one, as it theatre a metaphor). We sense the gap, and we know with one more steps we will certainly fall into chaos.
Out of the box
In the box
X Behavior dimension (transaction/transformation)
Y Power dimension (will to serve/will to power)
Z Participation dimension (1 voice/many voices)
Traits (Myers & Briggs)
Situation of Box
Situation (time & place)
Jon Howell in an interview with Sun-News (January 29, 2001: 7) states “ A leaders’ behaviour must match the situation, and the news of his or her followers.” And his summary is very appropriate here:
Leader effectiveness is determined by what people do, not by some inherent personal characteristic… I’m not saying personal characteristics don’t help; they certainly do. But leaders have to adapt their behavioural styles to fit the situations in which they find themselves”.
Howell says the good news is most people can learn leader behaviours and learn to recognize situations in which certain behaviours are most important. Howell and Costley (2001) argue for the match of leader behaviour, leader traits and characteristics, follower characteristics, and the situation at hand. And there are seven leader types, fit for various behavioural processes and situations in my read of their leader theory:
Supportive Leaders (those considerate, people oriented leaders).
Directive Leaders (fit for repetitive or work spread between sites and for cultures such as Mexico that prefer status well defined.
Participative Leaders such as Dwight Eisenhower who could tame the Primadonna generals and politicians of WWII, and by careful listening to many voices craft an alliance.
Reward and punishment leaders (transactional).
Charismatic (heroic) leaders
Boundary spanning (network) leaders
Leaders who build and forge social exchange (also networkers).
And now we have left the obsession with one best style of leadership. There is no universal style. There is as I have suggested, a dimension of behaviours running between Transactional and Transformational. The behaviour school to this point is fixated on the transactional. To find transformational we must sail to the Isle of Situation.
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