Leadership: Theory and Practice Essay

1. Based on the principles of the path-goal theory, what kind of leadership should David exhibit with each of the three running groups?

According Northouse the Path-Goal Theory is about how leaders motivate subordinates to accomplish goals (125). Northouse also points out the leadership generates motivation when it increases the number and kinds of payoffs that subordinates achieve from their work. The basic idea behind the Path-Goal Theory is each type of leader behaviors, which are directive, supportive, participative and achievement oriented have a different king of impact on subordinates’ motivation.

This simply means that the Path-Goal Theory does not lock leaders into one type of leadership. This theory gives leaders the opportunity to adapt their styles to fit the situation and motivational needs of their subordinates. Based on the analysis of all three groups the Path-Goal Theory would apply different types of leadership behavior. A subordinates characteristics will determine how a leaders behavior is interpreted by subordinates in a given work situation. Some of these characteristics are needs of affiliation, preferences of structure, desires for control, and so forth. In the first group the members or subordinates are mostly runners who have never ran in a marathon before. The main issue of concern for this group is how should they prepare themselves for the New York City marathon.

They illustrate this by asking questions like how to do the marathon? how far to run in the training?, What to eat or drink?. Since this particular group lacks experience there is a huge emphasis on self-preparation and high anxiety among the members. I think as president, David should apply the directive style of leadership in this situation because the task characteristics are ambiguous, there is no set of rules or method on how to execute the marathon, also the runners need self-assuring because of their self-doubt to complete the marathon and is this situation very complex. According to Northouse, directive leadership complements the work by providing guidance and psychological structure for subordinates.

Overall this group needs a huge amount of guidance because of their limited experience and high emphasis on preparation. Also Northouse clarifies this when he says that for subordinates who are dogmatic and authoritarian and have to work in uncertain situations, directive leadership helps the subordinates by clarifying the goal, making it less ambiguous and the subordinate feels more comfortable when the leader provides a greater sense of certainty in the work setting (129). This in turn gives the runners less anxiety and a clear and direct way to achieve the goal. In the second group, the main issue of concern was how the effects of training would impact their performance and they also wanted assurances from their leader David because they wanted to know if they were properly trained for the New York marathon.

This group of runners wanted a lot of feedback from their leader and showed high level of involvement that would affect their performance. The group was concerned with regular training activities and David’s commitment to them. In this case, David should apply the both supportive and participative leadership behavior style. Supportive leadership helps to provide what is missing by nurturing subordinates when they are engaged in tasks that are repetitive and unchallenging. Since the group two runners are going to be doing a lot of training and it can become very repetitive. In this leadership role it require David to be very supportive and his runners because of their efforts to continue this mechanized training for the marathon.

Another point is the David can apply participative leadership behavior style because as we know the subordinates want a sense of freedom, control and clarity. They illustrate this by initiating their own self-involvement on how they can be more effective in the marathon by asking questions and requiring a huge amount of feedback from David. In the third group, David should apply the achievement-oriented leadership behavior because the runners in this group are seasoned runners who finished in the top ten in other races.

The subordinate characteristics of this group are high expectations and the need to excel. The group has a lot of confidence in their ability to compete and finish well. However, they lacked excitement about running in the New York Event because they were usually concerned with the appropriateness of their training strategy and whether the training would help them to win more races. As a leader, David should challenge his subordinates to perform work at the highest level they can achieve. Norhthouse (2010) says that this leader establishes a high standard of excellence for subordinates and continuous improvement.

Northouse also contends that achievement oriented leaders show a high degree of confidence that subordinates are capable of establishing and accomplishing challenging goals (128). In retrospect, David is the president of Mertrocity Striders Track Club and he can use this achievement as a tool to influence his runners since he knows that they are already high achievers. He can solicit his own credibility as a runner and a president of the organization to promote his belief on achieving success as a runner and person of character.

2. What does David have to do to help the runners accomplish their goals? To be an effective leader, David needs to do all of the following: (1) attend to the needs of his subordinates, (2) help subordinates define their goals, and (3) the paths they want to take in reaching the goals.

3. Are there obstacles that David can remove or help runners to confront? When obstacles get in the way, David must help his runners confront them. If obstacles create excessive uncertainty, frustration or threat for his subordinates it is David’s responsibility to remove these obstacles or help them around them. In light of this, removing obstacles will increase a subordinate’s expectation that he or she will be able to get their work done and improve satisfaction. 4. In general, how can David motivate each of the three groups? David can motivate all of the three groups by helping his subordinates reach their goals by directing, guiding and coaching them along the way. This simply means attending to their needs of the group, defining the goals and how the group can reach these goals, clearing the path by removing obstacles to get the work done, and providing support.

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