Leadership is the act of being in charge of a team or organization. A leader provides direction for the followers to attain certain success. A good leader possesses specific skills that are fundamental in influencing their followers in a specific direction. The direction would be defined as the goal that the organization aspires to attain. An effective leader influences their followers towards a specific path while they provide emotional and physical support. As such, leadership would be best defined with a focus on the goal that the leader intends to attain in line with the commitment of the relevant authorities. The path-goal theory would be an outstanding approach in the definition of leadership.
The Path-goal theory entails how leaders motivate followers to attain goals. It is a common theory since every leader is expected to have a goal that they pursue. Leaders should portray an accurate understanding or knowledge for their goal by identifying the path that the organization should follow. It is upon the leader to ensure that subordinates understand the goal and are motivated to follow a certain path. Path-goal theory is instrumental in realizing the responsibility that a leader has towards the organization and the followers (Lesson 6: Contingency & Path-Goal Theories, 2020). An excellent path should make it easier for the leader and followers to realize the organizational goal. A CEO would be an outstanding example of how the path-goal functions. The former CEO for Apple Incorporation is perceived to be strict follower of the path-goal theory. He could identify a goal and walk through the path with the followers to realize the desired success (Hom, 2019).
As the path-goal theory provides, leadership would be defined as per the leader’s behavior. Every leader has unique behavior that may affect their influence on the followers. First, there are directive leaders. Such leaders give the followers instructions concerning the tasks that they would have to undertake. The leader tells the subordinates what they are expected to do and how they should do it. Such leaders have schedules and norms within which specific activities should be undertaken. In this case, directives are given in line with the goals that the leader intends to attain (Northouse, 2016). Steve Jobs is known to have led the Apple engineering team in designing new products. He came up with ideas for new designs and worked with the team of engineers to ensure the new product is developed. Although he gave directives, he was part of the team that implemented them since he was committed to the process of realizing success for the organization that he led (Hom, 2019).
Additionally, the path-goal theory provides that there are supportive leaders. Such leaders are available for their subordinates by willing to support them all the time. They attend to the needs of the subordinates to motivate them to pursue the organizational goal while sticking to a specific path. Such leaders intend to make the work attractive to their followers. There are no favorite employees in the eyes of the leader. Employees are treated equally to ensure they give a maximum contribution to the success of the organization (Lesson 6: Contingency & Path-Goal Theories, 2020). Therefore, employees’ excellence is usually influenced by the support that they get from the leader. The leader provides the resources and conducive environment that employees may require for better performance in their areas (Humphrey, 2013). Apple’s culture of fairness to employee was nurtured by Steve Jobs. As the leader, he understood that he needed to work with highly motivated employees. He did not only act as a leader but he offered guidance to the employees giving them a sense of direction (Hom, 2019). Apple employs people of different backgrounds provided they possess the necessary skills to undertake certain duties.
Also, a leader could be participative. Such a leader would involve followers in making decisions. They consult with the subordinates seeking to get their opinions and ideas before making a decision. It is a common leadership strategy that allows subordinates to participate in a major activity that promotes a certain topic. Such leaders understand the value of followers’ ideas since they influence specific decisions (Lesson 6: Contingency & Path-Goal Theories, 2020). Leaders consider the opinion given by their followers as a paramount and major determinant of the level of success that the organization attains. Steve Jobs is an example of how a leader can be participative in their job. Although he had the privilege to think and authorize the rest of the team to participate in the undertakings, he opted to be part of the team that undertook the responsibilities at the workplace (Hom, 2019).
Moreover, the path-goal theory illustrates that the leadership process shall have obstacles. Only outstanding leaders will help their organizations to navigate through the obstacles that may arise (Lesson 6: Contingency & Path-Goal Theories, 2020). An organization will sometimes have some challenges that require the attention of the leader and the skill to deal with them. Steve Jobs is an outstanding example of such leaders. At the time that Apple Incorporation underwent major challenges, Steve Jobs was leading the park in dealing with the issues. He pushed for a solution with the rest of the team. He provided directions amidst the challenges that came up. He depicted the leadership character which would come with the ability to deal with the challenges that may arise (Hom, 2019). As such, path-goal theory recognizes the ability to deal with challenges as an outstanding leadership element. The theory is suitable for eliminating obstacles in an organization. Obstacles cause uncertainties as well as frustrations that may prevent subordinates from realizing their potential and realizing specific goals
Lastly, as per the path-goal theory, there is an achievement-oriented leader. Such a leader focuses on results by setting high standards for their followers. They intend to improve their followers over time by making them develop new and better skills. Such parties are highly confident with the desire to attain excellent results. The leader would be willing to give anything that would make it possible to realize certain success. They offer excellent support to the subordinates by guaranteeing them excellence in their undertakings. They understand that they are part of the excellence that the organization pursues. As a result, they have to walk with the subordinates while offering the necessary support for successful undertakings (Humphrey, 2013). Despite being recognized as an innovator, Steve Jobs realized that he had to make the best out of the employees. He gave each of them an opportunity to showcase their innovativeness (Hom, 2019). It was an outstanding approach because after his death, Apple became stronger with the help of the employees that he had supported.
However, the path-goal theory does not focus on leadership traits. It gives the leaders choices for what they intend to become. It sets them free to explore their leadership ability. As a result, the leader can choose the path that their organization should take. As such, failure to accord leaders certain traits makes the path-goal theory outstanding in the definition of leadership. It supports the idea that different organizations have unique needs and it is upon leaders to study their organizations’ needs to provide the most outstanding path to attain specific goals (Northouse, 2016). The theory does not limit the leader in terms of what they can do or behave to attain success in their organization.
The theory’s success highly depends on subordinates and the task at hand. The relationship between the subordinate and the leader is vital in defining the future of the organization. At this point, subordinate’s satisfaction is paramount since it gives them the confidence to continue in their engagement with the leadership. Equally, subordinate’s perceptions of their ability and skills to undertake a task influence the behavior of a certain leader. Therefore, the subordinate’s characteristics would be paramount in determining the leader’s success. A leader should identify employees or subordinates who would be highly useful in promoting organizational success (Humphrey, 2013). One of Job’s famous quotes states “Technology is nothing. What’s important is that you have a faith in people, that they’re basically good and smart, and if you give them tools, they’ll do wonderful things with them” (Hom, 2019). He believed in using the employees by equipping them with the tools that would enable them to deliver unique products. He intended to make the best out of technology by improving the wellbeing of the employees who had been entrusted major responsibilities.
At the same time, the characteristics of the task would impact how a leader motivates subordinates. The design of the task would influence how employees relate to the leader. If the subordinates appreciate the task design, there would be an opportunity to realize greater success. Equally, the authority system of the organization would determine how subordinates undertake their tasks. The authority decides how tasks are undertaken. Also, the tasks would be affected by the subordinate’s workgroup. The leader must be cautious to ensure that they work with people who understand their responsibilities (Lesson 6: Contingency & Path-Goal Theories, 2020).
Moreover, the path-goal theory is an outstanding platform for understanding different leadership aspects. As such, through the theory, there could be a better perspective on leadership. It brings out leadership as a sense of responsibility for the individual in a certain position. A sense of responsibility means that one would ensure that subordinates engage in activities that would be meant for the growth or advancement of the organization. Goals are a significant part of the growth of an organization and it is upon every employee to work towards attaining the goal set for them (Northouse, 2016). Therefore, the path-goal theory brings the leader and the goal together to portray the value for a specific path in undertaking responsibilities.
An outstanding leader sets a path and encourages the subordinates to walk through it. They offer guidance to subordinates to encourage them as they undertake every step. As such, focusing on the path by engaging in the right activities would be an outstanding undertaking for leaders and their subordinates. It is upon the leader to check whether everyone in the organization is in line with the goals set on the path. If the subordinates could be lacking in any way, the leader could be answerable because they may have failed in offering the appropriate direction. A leader has the responsibility to choose who walks with them in the pursuit of specific goals (Northouse, 2016). An outstanding leader hires competent subordinates and can easily dismiss the ones without proper alignment with organizational goals. Steve Jobs was unique in his hiring techniques. He was not interested with the applicants with the best academic papers. He was looking for intelligent employees who had exclusive interest in technology (Hom, 2019). He would focus on building giants out of the employees who portrayed interest in technology.
In conclusion, an outstanding leader understands their goal and the path that they would be willing to follow to attain it. The path-goal theory dictates that the leader should have clear goals that they intend to attain. Leaders should share their goals with their subordinates to improve organizational performance. Since they offer direction, leaders should have a path that they would follow with the subordinates to attain the goals. Equally, the path-goal theory illustrates the value of understanding one’s subordinates and tasks. The relationship between the leader and the subordinates is vital since it puts them in a common vision for the organization. Subordinates support the vision by offering themselves to undertake the relevant tasks as per their expertise. Correspondingly, the leader has to have an accurate definition of tasks to ensure they are in line with the skills of the subordinates. Tasks should be in line with workgroups to avoid confusion amongst the subordinates. Assigning subordinates the appropriate tasks in preparation for a better future. Former CEO for Apple Incorporation, Steve jobs is an accurate representation of how path-goal theory works. He portrayed an accurate understanding for his employees and the tasks that they had to undertake. He was passionate about leadership and business activities making him the best leader for the organization at the time. As such, path-goal theory is an outstanding strategy to define or develop leadership in an organization. Leadership is about finding the goal and defining the path to get there. An outstanding leader guides the employees to follow specific way that would make it easier to reach the desired goal.
Hom, E. (2019). Steve Jobs Biography. Business News Daily. Retrieved from http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/4195-business-profile-steve-jobs.html
Humphrey, R. H. (2013). Effective leadership: Theory, cases, and applications. Sage Publications.
Lesson 6: Contingency & Path-Goal Theories (2020).
Northouse, P.G. (2016). Leadership: Theory and Practice. 7th Edition. Los Angeles: Sage Publications.