leaders in management development

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Management Tools

House's Path-Goal Theory

R.J. House, \"A Path-Goal Theory of Leader Effectiveness\", Administrative Science Quarterly, 16, pp. 321-339, 1971. This diagram has been recreated by LMC.

LMC explains House's Path-Goal Theory

This is a leadership tool used to identify, analyse, solve and effectively manage situational issues arising from either follower characteristics or unfavorable external factors. Identifying problems between the environment-follower relationship, House then treats these as obstacles that need to be removed by the leader.

The Path-Goal Theory requires leaders to clarify the path for followers, increase rewards and/or remove goal obstacles through adapting their leadership style as and when the situation requires.

The model identifies four leadership styles which make use of different types of leader behavior to suit both the situation and the follower's need:


Characterised by setting challenging goals for followers and expecting them to perform to high standards, this style is designed to be used when the follower lacks the sufficient drive or has a lack of job challenge.


In this style, duties are at the heart of the manager-subordinate relationship. It includes structuring and motivating subordinates, overseeing their progress, promoting and encouraging their development, and balancing effectiveness.


The leader involves the follower in a discussion of the task required before making a decision. A participative leadership style is used when the follower is making incorrect decisions or following incorrect procedures.


Highlights factual or value based external views into the organisation and to subordinates. A supportive leadership style requires both filtering and delegation skills.

Adjusting the leadership style to suit the situation plays to the advantage of both the leader-follower relationship and the business. Employee performance and satisfaction are increased, creating a productive and beneficial working environment.

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