What is Path-Goal Leadership Theory tells?

One day, Socrates was standing in the way to Mount Olympus. One guy, who was searching the direction to reach Mt. Olympus, approached Socrates and asked him”How do I go to Mt. Olympus?”. Socrates told “Just be sure every step you take is going in that direction and you will get there!”.

Path-Goal Leadership Theory tells about four different leadership behavior and its effect on performance, satisfaction and motivation of the team. It was first developed by Robert House in 1971 and reformulated it in 1996[1].

This theory mainly developed on relation between formally appointed superiors and subordinates in a group/team and not about leadership of whole organization. This theory based on expectancy theory of motivation.

As per Path-Goal theory, leader’s behavior changes depending on situation, environment and follower characteristics. Environment factor is all that is outside follower’s control like task structure, authority, organizational structure. Follower characteristics is his locus of control(internal/external), skill, experience, ability,commitment.

Path-Goal theory stresses on change in leaders behavior to satisfy followers needs by setting clear path, removing hurdles and roadblocks, assisting , providing direction, support and offering rewards to achieve goals.

House and Mitchell(1974) defined following four kind of leader behavior:

Directive path-goal clarifying leader behavior: directed toward providing psychological structure for subordinates. Leaders set goals and clarify them the path (what,when,how to perform tasks) to reach the goal. This behavior is suitable when unstructured job, inexperienced subordinate, subordinates lack of job skills. Keyword:Guide

Supportive leader behavior: directed toward the satisfaction of subordinates needs and preferences. Leaders set the goal and give moral support by being open, approachable and friendly to the followers to perform the task. This is suitable when follower shows ;ack of confidence. Keyword:Show concern

Participative leader behavior: directed toward encouragement of subordinate influence on decision making and doing the tasks. Here leaders set the goal and ask for suggestions to select the best suited path decisions. This behavior is well suited when followers show lack of decision making. Keyword: Consult

Achievement-oriented leader behavior: directed toward encouraging performance excellence. Leaders set challenging goals and lay path for them to perform to the highest level. This behavior is suitable when followers lack of job challenge. Keyword: Encourage


1. House, R. (1997). Path-goal theory of leadership: Lessons, legacy, and a reformulated theory. Leadership Quarterly, 7 (3),323-352.
2. House, R. J., & Mitchell, R. R. (1974). Path-goal theory of leadership. Journal of Contemporary Business, 3, 81-97.

How long will it take for me to become a leader?

This is what one of my team member asked me. “How long it will take for me to become a leader?” I like to share my view points which i discussed with him.

Leadership is not time-based. It is an art. Leadership qualities needs to be developed and believe me – it can be developed. Leadership is being skillful in a few personal traits. It is behavioral. Leadership is something to deal with correct use of time, energy and others skill to reach the goal. With these traits, you need to shape yourself first into a disciplined(or principled) human with a broad mind and esteemed vision. Then followers will automatically start following your way. Let me give you a simple example – Mahatma Gandhi. Like any other human being, he had the same child & adulthood characteristics. Once he got a vision for India’s freedom movement everyone started following him.

…the stronger you are — the more genuine your character, the higher your level of proactivity, the more committed you really are to win-win — the more powerful your influence will be with that other personFrom THE SEVEN HABITS OF HIGHLY EFFECTIVE PEOPLE, Stephen R. Covey

In case of an individual, organization or country, Leadership can exists in any level not limited to higher levels only. In your school days, you could have served as a class leader or school pupil leader. In colleges, we have college union committee and have a student as chairman for that. In houses, we have family head who leads the family. Everyone shows leadership qualities at every levels of life. Leadership first starts at the individual level.

Have you noticed you in a personal crisis situations. What did you do? Though you have many friends, you approached the person whom you think can give some direction. Why did you select him? What made you to approach him? What skills does he possess? Yes, your friend showed some leadership qualities which made you to approach him. This is the simplest form of individual level leadership.

Leadership is not a showcasing activity. You cannot force anyone to follow you to become a leader. Followers recognize you and follow you. Excellent commitment, will power, humility, articulating vision, influential & easily approachable are some of the Leadership traits. There could be times when a person’s leadership abilities were not recognized throughout his life. But some leaders live even after their life.

If you develop, practice and show leadership qualities then surely you can be a Leader soon.

Level 5 Leadership – What is it?

Recently, I got opportunity to go through an Excellent Leadership book named – “Good to Great” by Jim Collins. Jim and his fellow researchers put five-year research effort to explore the leadership that transformed good companies to great. I got amazed by excellent narration of the Level 5 Leadership in 300 page book.

It is my pleasure to give some pointers about the Level 5 Leadership for our leadership growth benefit.

* Level 5 leader is an individual who blends extreme personal humility with intense professional will
Hence, the equation is HUMILITY + WILL = LEVEL 5

* Level 5 leaders are the one who takes companies from good results to great results

* Getting right people and creating a culture of discipline (which consists of disciplined people, disciplined thought & disciplined action) are important factors along with Level 5

* Level 5 leader should possess capabilities of of all lower levels along with Level 5 characteristics

* An individual can show Level 5 Leadership & it is not necessary to move from one level to another

* Level 5 framework is like a flywheel in which transformation process buildup momentum, reaches breakthrough & sustaining those great results.

The Level 5 Hierarchy

Level 1 – Highly Capable Individual – Makes productive contributions through talent, knowledge, skills, and good work habits

Level 2 – Contributing Team Member – Contributes to the achievement of group objectives; works effectively with others in a group setting

Level 3 – Competent Manager – Organizes people and resources toward the effective and efficient pursuit of predetermined objectives

Level 5 Leadership

Level 4 – Effective Leader – Catalyzes commitment to and vigorous pursuit of a clear and compelling vision; stimulates the group to high performance standards

Level 5 – Executive – Builds enduring greatness through a paradoxical combination of personal humility plus professional will

Though I tried my level best to present a gist about the Level 5 Leadership, still lot of concepts like First Who, Stockdale Paradox, The Hedgehog Concept, A Culture of Discipline, Technology accelerators are available in the book.


1. Jim Collins Website – http://www.jimcollins.com/
2. Collings, Jim, “Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don’t”, RANDOM HOUSE BUSINESS BOOKS
3. Collins, Jim, “Level 5 Leadership: The Triumph of Humility and Fierce Resolve”, July-August, 2005