Path-Goal Theory


This essay clarifies the path-goal theory and how leadership roles are utilized within the theory. Path-Goal Theory of Leadership was developed to discuss the way leaders encourage and support their followers in achieving the goals that have been set by making the direction they should take clear and easy. Specifically, leaders define the path so subordinates know which way to travel in their careers, remove roadblocks that are stopping them from achieving their goals, and increasing the rewards along the route. I will emphasize three leadership behaviors Jeanne Lewis used with her employees, provide three examples of Lewis’s leadership behavior in relation to the Path-Goal Theory, identify three behaviors of employees in response to Lewis’s leadership styles, and explain the dynamics of employee behavior in reference to the Path-Goal Theory.

The Path-Goal Theory stipulates that leaders are effective in their leadership and managerial duties because of their impact on follower’s motivations, their ability to perform effectively, and their satisfaction level. (Hersey P., Blanchard K., Johnson D., (2008). Management of Organizational Behavior. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall. The Path-Goal Theories utmost concern is how a leader influences follower’s perceptions of their work goals, their perceptions of personal goals, and their paths to goal attainment. The Path-Goal Theory is best exemplified when the leader provides clarification and rewards in order to remove the unknowns from the environment.

Jeanne Lewis utilized three different leadership behaviors with her employees. She used the Directive, Participative, and Supportive leadership behaviors. She was required to utilize the Directive leadership behavior during her tenure as the Director of Operations for New England Staples stores because the New England stores were severely under-performing other areas within the company due to a notable lack of leadership. She immediately set aggressive store goals in order to bring them up to company standards, initiated training programs for employees, and invigorated performance standards New England wide. She was required to utilize the Participative leadership behavior during her tenure in Merchandising. She was a catalyst in this department by inspiring dialogue and debate from her direct reports and lower-level employees in order inspire a sense of connection and belief in their decision making processes. Employees found these information exchanges extremely productive and felt a sense that management cared about their ideas. (Suesse, J.M.(2000). Jeanne Lewis at Staples, Inc. (A) (Abridged). Boston: Harvard Business School Publishing. Pp 1-14 (78-91). It provided employees with a deep feeling of ownership that they had not felt at any time before. She also utilized the Supportive leadership behavior by influencing her employees which garnered their respect for her. She exhibited brilliant insight into the future needs of the company and realizing the needs and rewards that her employees strived for.

Examples of Lewis utilizing the Path-Goal Theory with the Directive leadership behavior corresponded to numerous benefits for Staples and improved employee performance which had a direct impact on employee behaviors. Instructing followers of what needs to be done and giving them appropriate guidance is a critical part of the Path-Goal Theory. This includes giving employees instructions of specific work that is required. Rewards may also be increased as required or needed and role uncertainty decreased. This may be used when the task is unstructured and complex and the follower is inexperienced or lacks confidence. This increases the follower's sense of security and control and consequently is appropriate to the situation. Another example of Lewis utilizing the Path-Goal Theory with the Participative leadership behavior was her ability and desire to talk with employees and taking their ideas into account when making decisions on corporate 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. While utilizing the Participative leadership behavior during her tenure in merchandising, her employees developed the increased knowledge in their needs and rewards they strived towards. This resulted in better employee effort, improved performance, and job satisfaction.
The final example of Lewis utilizing the Path-Goal Theory with the Supportive leadership behavior exemplifies 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 appealing. This approach is best when the work is stressful, boring, hazardous, or dangerous. While utilizing the Supportive leadership behavior, her employees developed an increased confidence level in their abilities by being given path clarification to rewards and store goals. This resulted in better employee effort, improved performance, and job satisfaction.

The aspects of the relationship of employee behavior to the Path-Goal theory in the Lewis case communicate the employee behavior due to Lewis clarifying task expectations. This leader behavior on the part of Jeanne Lewis provided employees with directive, participative, and supportive leadership. This is defined in the Path-Goal Theory and is a critical aspect in order for this theory to operate properly. As was stated earlier in this essay, this caused employees to develop a desire to learn more about their duties and directly led to improved employee performance. Employees became inspired because they had a better understanding of corporate goals which increased their confidence. Due to Jeanne Lewis utilizing these three types of leader behavior, she garnered the support of employees and her direct reports. This allowed her to improve her own leadership style and motivate the workforce to new and higher levels that Staples had never known before.

References
References (Hersey P., Blanchard K., Johnson D., (2008). Management of Organizational Behavior. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall.
(Suesse, J.M.(2000). Jeanne Lewis at Staples, Inc. (A) (Abridged). Boston: Harvard Business School Publishing. Pp 1-14 (78-91).

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