Situational Leadership: House’s Path-Goal verses Hersey and Blanchard’s Leadership Model Situational Leadership: House’s Path-Goal verses Hersey and Blanchard’s Leadership Model Do you ever reflect on someone that had or has such a positive impact on you that when you think of them words like competent, inspiring, intelligent, courageous, respect, and mentor come to mind? Chances are all of us have had or still have someone like this in our lives, and that someone, is an effective leader.
There are many definitions of leadership and although they have different words in them, they all mean the same; leadership is the process of influencing others and facilitating collective efforts in order to accomplish an objective (Schermerhorn, Hunt, Osborn, & Uhl-Bien, 2010). Harry Truman once said that a leader is a man who has the ability to get other people to do what they don’t want to do and like it.
Just like there are many definitions of leadership there are also many theories on how someone is able to reach the level of a leader, and even more so; how to become an effective leader. Two of those theories are the path-goal theory and the leadership model created by Hersey and Blanchard. In the following paragraphs the reader will receive an understanding of each theory, a discussion of how it is effective in an organization and then a comparison and contrast between the two. To begin with, the path-goal theory will be the first one covered.
Path-Goal Leadership The path-goal leadership theory was introduced by Robert House and was defined as a style of leadership where the key function of the leader is to adjust their behavior to complement situational contingencies in the work environment (Schermerhorn, Hunt, Osborn, ; Uhl-Bien, 2010). Price (1991) goes on to explain that in order to get desired organizational results certain tasks need to be performed the results of those tasks are goals, where the task itself are paths.
When goals are reached rewards are given, so this leadership theory relies on the leader being able to set clear standards for reaching the goal, clear instructions for performing the task, and recognition and rewards for those subordinates. This path-goal theory works well in any organization. The path-goal theory holds four specific leader behaviors (directive, supportive, participative, and achievement-orientated) and three follower behaviors ( job satisfaction, acceptance of the leader, and expectations of rewards) (McLaurin, 2006).
Depending on the task at hand and the situation in the work environment a leader will adjust their behaviors to ease the path the subordinate needs to take to achieve the desired goal. The directive leader will give followers instructions when the task is complex and this will increase employee satisfaction. The supportive leader will treat followers based on their needs which will also increase employee and job satisfaction. The participative leader will obtain opinions from the followers and include them in decisions which will promote satisfaction and increase acceptance of the leader.
The achievement-orientated leader will set high standards and goals which will increase the followers self confidence and satisfaction (McLaurin, 2006). This theory is based on what is taking place in the work environment and the ability of the leader to utilize different behaviors, once the leader determines which behavior is necessary, then the end result will be successful for the organization. Hersey and Blanchard’s leadership model is more widely known, yet is based on situational contingencies as well.
Hersey and Blanchard Leadership Model Paul Hersey and Kenneth Blanchard developed the situational leadership model with leader behavior and followership in mind. Their model has three dimensions, relationship behavior, task behavior, and readiness level; the later belonging to the followers and the first two associated with leaders (Papworth, Milne, & Boak, 2009). This model focuses on the situational contingencies of readiness or maturity of the subordinates or followers (Schermerhorn, Hunt, Osborn, & Uhl-Bien, 2010).
Hersey and Blanchard have created a tool that is simple, easy to apply, and able to help organizations build effective leaders. The effectiveness of this model is obtained by matching the leadership style with readiness of the follower. The four leadership styles associated with this model are telling, selling, participating, and delegating. The four follower readiness levels are a little more descriptive, they are 1) unable or unwilling and insecure 2) unable but willing and confident 3) able yet unwilling and insecure 4) able but willing and confident (Hambleton, & Gumpert, 1982).
To be an effective leader, the leader needs to match the readiness level of the follower to the style of leadership required. For example, if a follower is brand new to the organization, then they probably lack the knowledge of how the organization operates (unable or unwilling and insecure) so they will need to be closely supervised and be given detailed instructions. This utilizes a leadership style or behavior of telling, which is a low relationship and high task behavior concept.
If a follower knows more about the organization but is not confident in their performance, then the leadership style best suited is selling because the leader is able to explain and clarify. Selling is both high in relationship and task behavior. If a follower has the ability to perform but is not willing then utilizing a participative style is best suited because it allows the leader to include the follower so they feel they have say in the decision making, thus providing a high relationship and low task behavior.
Lastly, if a follower is able and confident in their performance, then delegating is the best style to use because if provides confidence and responsibility to the follower, which results in both low relationship and task behavior. This leadership model takes the position that the most effective leadership style is situation specific; if the situation changes then the best style of leadership might not be the same one used previously (Hambleton, & Gumpert, 1982). It relies on matching a situational contingency with effective leadership, much like the path-goal theory does. Comparing Path-Goal with the Leadership Model
In comparison, both of these theories are based on situational leadership which according to McLaurin (2006) is an influencing variable that creates the need of defining what combination of traits and behavior is required by the leader to be successful in that particular situation. The path-goal theory has the leader contemplate what the follower needs in order to influence their end results, while the leadership model does the same by determining the readiness level of the follower to influence their end results. In contrast, the leadership model is more geared toward the followers, while the path-goal theory is geared toward the leader.
In the path-goal theory, it is the leader’s behavior that is motivational to the extent of performance (McLaurin), where in the leadership model it is the follower’s readiness level that is the motivation for performance. Conclusion As stated, the path-goal theory of leadership and the leadership model are considered situational contingency theories. They both provide managers, supervisors, and even top executives with the knowledge of how to become effective leaders. The path-goal theory depends on the task at hand and the leader will adjust their behavior to make that task achievable for the follower.
The leadership model focuses on the situational contingencies of readiness of the subordinates and matches the appropriate leadership behavior to make the task achievable as well. In comparison, they both utilize behavior from the leader based on the follower by knowing either their readiness or their needs. In contrast the leadership model is more focused on the follower being the decisive factor on the end result for the company, where the path-goal seems to be more focused on the leadership behavior. With knowledge of both theories it is believable that leaders can be taught how to become more effective.
Hambleton and Gumpert (1982) stated that the difference between a successful and an unsuccessful organization can be caused solely by leadership and in today’s world the major attribute that separates those organizations is effective leadership. References Hambleton, R. K. , ; Gumpert, R. (1982). The validity of hersey and blanchard’s theory of leader effectiveness. Group & Organization Studies (Pre-1986), 7(2), 225-242. Retrieved from http://search. proquest. com McLaurin, J. R. (2006). The role of situation in the leadership process: A review and application.
Academy of Strategic Management Journal, 5(15441458), 97-114. Retrieved from http://search. proquest. com Papworth, M. A. , Milne, D. , & Boak, G. (2009). An exploratory content analysis of situational leadership. The Journal of Management Development, 28(7), 593-606. doi:10. 1108/02621710910972706 Price, R. A. (1991). An investigation of path-goal leadership theory in marketing channels. Journal of Retailing, 67(3), 339-361. Retrieved from http://search. proquest. com Schermerhorn, J. R. , Jr. , Hunt, J. G. , Osborn, R. N. , & Uhl-Bien, M. (2010). Organizational behavior. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.