Path-Goal based approach in project leadership

Today we will talk about A Path-Goal Based Approach That May Take Your Project Leadership Repertoire To The Next Level, read on.

When we consider project leadership, there is no such thing as an ideal leadership style. The situation in which Project Leaders function will influence the approaches that they should embrace.

Here are four types of leadership behaviors as per the path-goal theory of leadership that effective project leaders use time to time knowingly or unknowingly.

  1. Achievement-oriented Leadership – Such project leaders set challenging goals, expects them to perform at the highest level, Show confidence in people’s ability to meet the expectation.
  2. Directive Leadership – Such project leaders let followers know what is expected and tell them how to perform their tasks.
  3. Participative Leadership – Such project leaders consult the followers, asks for their suggestions before making a decision.
  4. Supportive Leadership – Such project leaders are friendly, approachable and show concern for the follower’s well being.

The key here is to identify the situations which can be best handled with a certain type of path-goal based leadership behavior to produce the desired result.

For example,

  • An achievement-oriented approach works well when the expectations of the results are high and the team has the capability to be encouraged to rise to the occasion.
  • The directive approach is best in emergency or chaotic situations.  Also, it works well with projectized organizational structure when the Project Leader has power, blessings from the top management and well-structured project tasks. In such situations, the team is more ready to embrace the directions from the leader.
  • In ambiguous situations, where results depend on the team working well together and with a common sense of purpose, Project Leaders who are concerned with maintaining good relationships (using participative or supportive leadership styles of course) are more likely to get better results.

While ineffective Project Leaders change their leadership styles at random so that their team is confused and do not know what to do next, Dependable Project Leaders are capable of flexing their style to meet the demands of the situation. At times, supportive project leaders shift into more of a directive mode when faced with a crisis or vice versa.

Effective Project Leaders sometimes flex their style on person to person basis. They understand that some people need more directions while the other needs a sense of achievement. It depends more on the situations, contexts, and personality of Project Leader themselves.

Here are a few questions to think upon and act in order to use the path-goal based leadership for the best possible results.

  1. What is the most common project leadership style practiced and expected by your organization?
  2. Is it the same leadership style you are good at and feel excited about?
  3. If not, then what best can you do to deal with it?