“A Leader is One Who Knows the Way, Goes the Way, and Shows the Way.”John C. Maxwell
A regular aspect of military life is the requirement to transition between jobs frequently. These transitions could consist of cross-country or overseas, moves, or could be as changing offices. Each of these transitions is unique, though one thing can always be expected; you will sit-down with the Commanding Officer, the senior Officer-in-Charge. These initial meetings usually serve as a brief “Get to know you,” followed by a hurried wave of guidance and expectations.
While working through one such transition, a few years ago, I received an email from my new Commanding Officer, with a few goal worksheets to complete before we held our initial meeting. Surprised by this new approach, I took a few minutes to fill out the worksheets then continued with my other to-do list items. Expecting our meeting would take on the usual form, with a slight variation, I assumed we would discuss my background and goals for only a few minutes before he would file my goal sheet away, never to be seen again, and move on to laying out his expectations. Was I ever wrong. Though it occurred more than 4 years ago now, this initial meeting stands out as one of the turning points in my career. My new boss broke the script of these initial meetings. We discussed my personal and professional goals for about an hour. We broke these goals into actionable chunks, established timelines and checkpoints, and identified ways he could assist me in meeting these goals. Though I did not know it at the time, my boss subscribed to the Path-Goal Theory of Leadership.
Path-Goal Theory of Leadership emphasizes that leaders adopt one or more leadership styles to lead subordinates to achieve targets and maintain satisfaction in their work. Path-Goal Theory of Leadership builds upon but is more prescriptive in the application, Expectancy Theory of Motivation, the idea that an individual’s ability to connect actions with desired outcomes and measure these outcomes serve as predictors for their attitudes and behaviors. Path-Goal Theory focuses more on managerial leadership than transformational leadership. In other words, the Path-Goal Theory helps us lead in day-to-day interactions but does not necessarily help us challenge the status quo.
Path-Goal Theory describes four leadership styles that can be adopted, either individually or in combination, to best meet the needs and characteristics of those we lead. Before a leader can effectively use or combine, they must understand each individual on the team and tailor their leadership style accordingly.
Path-Goal Leadership Styles
Task-oriented leadership, with well-defined structure and roles. This leadership style focuses on setting goals and creating deadlines and checkpoints to keep everyone moving in the same direction. Future work activities and requirements are planned well in advance, ensuring everyone understands how they fit into the plan. Directive leaders skillfully use rewards and disciplinary actions to motivate subordinates.
People-oriented leaders who focus more on developing professional relationships with subordinates to make work seem more pleasant. This leadership style is characterized by leaders who show genuine interest in those they lead, actively listen, and publicly recognize individual or team achievements.
Decision-oriented leaders who encourage the involvement of subordinates in the decision-making process. This leadership style focuses on the development of buy-in from the team, emphasized by the leader’s ability to seek counsel from team members before making a final decision.
Achievement-oriented leaders who challenge team members to reach their peak performance. These leaders are never content with current performance, continually finding new ways to challenge top performers. Achievement-oriented leaders install confidence in their subordinates and trust that they will rise to any challenge presented.
Here at Aggregate Project we strive to assist leaders in their efforts to inspire their teams to achieve common goals. Contact us now to schedule a complimentary 30-minute discussion on transformation with your team. Connect with us online, on LinkedIn, or Twitter to continue the conversation.