House’s Path–Goal Leadership Theory

Question—How can leaders use alternative leadership styles to add value in different types of situations?

The path–goal theory advanced by Robert House seeks the right fit between leadership style and situation.34 Unlike Fiedler, House believed that a leader can use all of the following leadership styles and actually shift back and forth among them:

Path-goal leadership styles

  • Directive leadership—letting followers know what is expected; giving directions on what to do and how; scheduling work to be done; maintaining definite performance standards; clarifying the leader’s role in the group.
  • Supportive leadership—doing things to make work more pleasant; treating team members as equals; being friendly and approachable; showing concern for the well-being of subordinates.
  • Achievement-oriented leadership—setting challenging goals; expecting the highest levels of performance; emphasizing continuous performance improvement; displaying confidence in meeting high standards.
  • Participative leadership—involving team members in decision making; consulting with them and asking for suggestions; using these suggestions when making decisions.

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