A Path-Goal Based Approach That May Take Your Project Leadership Repertoire To The Next Level

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 4 types of leadership behaviors as per the path-goal theory of leadership which 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 highest level, Shows confidence in their ability to meet the expectation.
  2. Directive Leadership – Such project leaders let followers know what is expected and tells 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 and approachable and shows concern for the follower’s well being.

The key here is to identify the situations which may be best handled with a specific type of path-goal based leadership behavior and to use it at its best.

For example,

  • An achievement oriented approach works well when the expectations of the results are high and team has the capability to be encouraged to rise to the occasion.
  • Directive approach is best in the 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 acommon 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 Poor 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 the 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 effectiveness 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?
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Utpal Vaishnav is a lifelong learner, entrepreneur and author. On PMCraft , Utpal writes about his experiences and learning on Project and Program Management. Interested in Agile? He also runs a Scrum focused blog. He is passionate about personal development and he shares his personal development experiences at Self Help Zen. Visit www.utpalvaishnav.com/about to know more about him or follow him on twitter @UtpalVaishnav.