How can leaders effectively motivate their followers to accomplish their set goals? A leader must define the goals, make the path to that goal clear, remove any obstacles that might hinder the follower, and support their followers along that path (Northouse, 2016). There are several leadership styles that can facilitate this path-goal. Those styles are directive leadership, supportive leadership, participative leadership, and achievement-oriented leadership. Each leadership style works with certain follower characteristics, and task characteristics. I will highlight a few of the leadership styles and the follower/task characteristics that go along with that style.
The directive style is the “telling style” of path-goal theory (Northouse, 2016, p.117). This leadership style lays out the plan to achieve the goal. The leader will give instruction on the task, what is expected, how the work is to be done, and when it needs done by (Northouse, 2016). This leadership style is what a teacher would use. A teacher lays out what students will learn, what work will need to be done, and the syllabus or the time line of work to be done. The directive leadership style lends itself to followers that need structure and task clarity. Students need structure and clear task explanations when it comes to completing their assignments.
The supportive and participative leadership styles kind of go hand-in-hand. The supportive style “consists of being friendly and approachable” (Northouse, 2016, p.117). Where a participative leader gets input from the follower. These two styles allow for a great leadership/follower exchange. Followers who need a strong affiliation and desires for control will respond to these two styles better than some of the other styles listed in this report (Northouse, 2016).
Lastly, the achievement-oriented leadership style. A leader using this style will challenge followers to perform their highest quality work. The leader sets a high standard of work to be completed and looks for ways to improve follower’s performance (Northouse, 2016). Followers that have a need to perform at a high level will do well with this leadership style. The need to perform at a high level requires a leader that will challenge them and request more from them. The problem with this style is if there is an employee that does not respond to this style within the group it could create an out-group situation.
Overall a leader needs to look at what group of followers they have. A good leader needs to change their style depending on their followers. If a leader’s group needs structure that leader needs to be directive or achievement-oriented leader. Also, if a group of followers need to be heard and to be treated like a friend. That leader needs to turn to a leadership style that is comparable to a supportive/participative leadership style. Ultimately, it is up to the leader to change to help their followers. A leader needs to provide the right path for the group to reach its goals.
Northouse, P. G. (2016). Leadership: Theory and Practice (7th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.