Path-Goal Theory

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Week 7: Path-Goal Theory

In 1993, Russia experienced turmoil with stringent, governmental restrictions and an increase in public health issues. In the midst of chaos, some public health leaders acted to offer clear goals and objectives in order to create solutions for the health problems facing the Russian society. Among such leaders in public health, Dr. Julie Stachowiak exhibited a path-goal theory of leadership to prompt healthcare awareness and reform for HIV and AIDS policies. At first, Stachowiak’s initiative seemed blocked by the rampant AIDS epidemic, no strategic plan, and no funding agencies of support. By establishing clear directives for members and connections with appropriate agencies, Stachowiak was able to create networks of support to bolster her organization (Stachowiak, 2010).

Stachowiak’s leadership portrays another leadership perspective—Path-Goal Theory. With review of the current literature, this week you examine ways in which effective leaders encourage and support their subordinates to reach benchmarks and goals. As a future leader in public health faced with environmental challenges, diverse group dynamics, and constant threats from situations, it is important to understand how a leader may “clear paths” toward goals.

Reference: Stachowiak, J. (2010). A brief history of CBOs and NGOs in public health. In Igniting the power of community: The role of CBOs and NGOs in global public health. New York, NY: Springer.

Learning Objectives

Students will:
  • Evaluate Path-Goal Theory
  • Analyze similarities and differences between Path-Goal Theory and Situational Approach
  • Apply the concepts of Narcissism and Machiavellianism to public health leadership

Learning Resources

Required Readings

Nahavandi, A. (2014). The art and science of leadership (7th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

  • Chapter 3, “The Foundations of Modern Leadership”

House, R. (1971). A path goal theory of leader effectiveness. Administrative Science Quarterly, 16(3), 321-338.

Luna, B.A. (2009). An analysis of the nuances and practical applications of situational leadership in the management and administration of international health care organizations. International Journal of e-Business Management, 3(5), 18.

Sarin, S., & O’connor, G. (2009). First among equals: The effect of team leader characteristics on the internal dynamics of cross-functional product development teams. Journal of Product Innovation Management, 26(2), 188-205.

Note: You will access this article from the Walden Library databases.


Discussion: Path-Goal and Situational Theories of Leadership

There is no guarantee for success for any person in a leadership role. It is not uncommon for a leader who has met success in one leadership role and environment to encounter an experience where his or her leadership is now ineffective. As a result of various factors within situations, success may not be tied to the style of the leader. Various factors might include the situational context in which leadership is applied or the level of member motivation. For example, in Situational Theory, a leader may be effective because his or her style of leadership fits the situation. A leader may also be effective because of his or her ability to motivate subordinates. As outlined in Path-Goal Theory, a leader removes obstacles and provides support to subordinates to achieve goals.

For this Discussion, review the Learning Resources to consider the strengths and limitations of using the Path-Goal Theory of leadership in public health situations. Path-Goal Theory is a widely-debated issue in terms of its validity in leadership practices. As a result, for this Discussion, you must determine if you think Path-Goal is a valid theory of leadership. Then, think about how Path-Goal Theory compares (similarities and differences) to Situational Approach and consider an example of this comparison.

By Day

Post a brief description of two strengths and two limitations of Path-Goal Theory as applied in the field of public health. Then, compare (similarities and differences) Path-Goal Theory to Situational Theory of leadership. Be specific. Finally, explain whether Path-Goal Theory is a valid theory of leadership. Justify your response.

Read a selection of your colleagues’ postings.

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