The Path-Goal theory of leadership illustrates the techniques used by leaders to encourage and give support to their subjects or followers in order to achieve laid out goals and objectives; this theory offers the path that should be followed to achieve the goals. Specifically, according to this theory, leaders are expected to elucidate the path that their subordinates should know so that they are aware which way to follow. Moreover, the leaders are expected to clear all the roadblocks that may hinder the followers from achieving the goals and increase the rewards in the process. While clarifying the path, the leaders should provide blurred hints, for the process of clearing the roadblocks they should help the followers to deal with bigger obstacles and occasional motivations should be given to the followers to encourage them to move forward. It is important to note that varying the approach is dependent on certain state of affairs, which include the ability and motivation of the followers (Kreitner and Kinicki, 2007).
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Leadership Behavior Lewis Used With Her Employees
Lewis uses certain styles to ensure the company meets its goals and objectives:
- Demonstrating enthusiasm to the workers: Lewis has great influence on her follower with her ideas. She does not wait until the relevant person gets to deal with a problem, but she is always ready to assist all through to the low subordinate level. She is also concerned with the type of unity that should exist so that the company can gain more grounds toward achieving the set goals and objectives. She tries to ensure that all the departments within the company work together so that the process of the activities may be coherent. Besides, one of her main concern is to ensure that every person working within the company has his or her welfare taken care of. She understands the importance of making every employee comfortable in the process of undertaking his or her duties (Harvard Business School, 2000);
- Planning and leading change: after joining the company, embarked on providing the company with the ideas for change to help drive the growth and increase sales and general performance. In implementing the initiative for change, Lewis has involved people found at all levels of the company. She has also set certain expectations that she wish the company should realize during the process of its operations; she ensures that every department performs its functions appropriately within the framework of clearly set goals and objectives and every employee of the departments understands what role he or she plays within the department. Most, importantly, Lewis plans to lead her employees in the process of strategic planning so that all can contribute for the benefit of the company (Harvard Business School, 2000);
- Ensuring a culture of change and flexibility: Lewis is personally ready for change to take place within the company, and this is the idea she encourages her employees to buy. Her main aim is to effect certain changes in the framework within which the company operates, but she has to ensure that her employees are ready and are for the changes.
Lewis’ Leadership Behavior In Terms Of the Path-Goal Theory
Lewis’ leadership behavior is consistent with certain leadership styles as proposed by the Path-Goal theory. The leadership behavior is reflected on how she relates with her employees; it is embodied in the following leadership styles:
- Supportive leadership: Lewis understands that her employees alone cannot accomplish the goals and objectives of the company. She has therefore become supportive by helping them find fast solutions to problems that arise in their departments or levels of participation in the company. In fact, Lewis states that her style is that she wants things to materialize very quickly, and when she sees any form of problem, she instantly provides solutions and / or alternatives. The problems maybe new and somebody might not have tried to figure it out or where someone is aware of the problem but has not given it a proper timing in the process of offering solution and preventing future re-occurrence. Besides, Lewis is concerned with creating a good working environment so that her employees can work more efficiently and effectively and participate in ensuring the company meets its goals. She is very much concerned with taking care of the employees’ individual welfare;
- Participative leadership: Lewis is getting into a new position within the company. One of her strategies is to bring everybody on board in the process of performing her duties. She is free to contact and ask questions about the duties of each worker so that she can learn as much as possible. To facilitate this, she met several of her staff on one-on-one basis. Lewis realizes that the staff members were not used to sharing information and working with one another. During meetings, she is the one who does almost all the talking. She decided that all the members of the staff must participate in the process by giving their ideas and suggestions (Harvard Business School, 2000);
- Achievement-oriented leadership: the reason Lewis is joining her new position in the marketing department is to increase sales and revenues to the company. She is actually concerned that the departments are not performing to their potentials. This is the reason she gets to the bottom in order to understand the marketing departments by meeting her new staff members. Her emphases are placed on ensuring the company achieves its goals and objectives; she therefore encourages and even ready to help her staff to work hard and overcome any form of challenge that may interfere with smooth running of the company affairs. This is exemplified where she contend she needs things to happen very fast and is even ready to offer quick solutions to arising problems.
Three Behaviors of Employees in Response to Lewis’s Leadership Style
- Collaborative: the employees found Lewis to be easy to work with. They collaborated with her in making decisions of the departments; this owes to the fact that she encouraged open discussions that ensured everybody had his or her input into the decision making process. As a result, the employees accorded her respect since her leadership style worked to achieve certain goals and objectives that some staff members never thought were possible.
- Open with her: before, employees were neither used to sharing information amongst themselves nor working together. However, since Lewis joined her position and started holding periodical meetings with the employees, the employees have become free to share information amongst themselves also open to give their ideas during meetings;
- Increased performance: when Lewis moved to the department and initiated some changes, the employees were pleased and they quickly established aggressive store standards; besides, they came up with training standards and invigorated their performance (Harvard Business School, 2000).
Employees’ Behavior and Characteristics of the Path-Goal Theory
Employees of the company have managed to exhibit some characteristics that are consistent with the Path-Goal theory:
- Participating participatory leadership: for Lewis to be successful with participatory leadership, she needs the willingness of the staff members to work with him together. The employees have received her style of participatory leadership with confidence. This has made this style of leadership to be successful;
- Achievements: the employees have become committed to achieving the company goals and objectives by setting standards or operation, establishing appropriate trainings and also increasing the quality of their performance. This is inline with the achievement oriented leadership.
- Working as a team: before Lewis came into the office, the employees never knew much about the task performed by fellow colleagues. This was a great danger as far as the achievement of the company goals was concerned. Through encouragement from Lewis, the team started learning more other tasks performed by their colleagues and also started working as a team; a fact that saw their performance increase (Harvard Business School, 2000).
According to the Path-Goal Theory, a leader should provide his or her employees with incentives to work hard and help achieve the set goals and objectives. It is important to note that Lewis and her new staff have exemplified the way the Path-Goal theory works in the management of organizational behavior, especially as relates to motivation and empowerment of employees. The successful application of theory depends on various situations in which a company may find itself; it also requires that employees are collaborative and ready to embrace the spirit of change (Blazey, 2009).
- Blazey, M. (2009). Insights to Performance Excellence 2009-2010: An Inside Look at the 2009-2010 Baldrige Award Criteria. United States: American Society for Quality.
- Harvard Business School. (2000). Jean Lewis at Staples, Inc. (A)(Abridge). New York: McGraw-Hill.
- Kreitner, R. & Kinicki, A. (2007). Organizational Behavior (8th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill.