Path Goal Theory In order to encourage, support and motivate their followers, Path Goal Theory requires a leader to take into account situational factors when adapting a leadership style. Successful integration of situational factors with a leadership style can lead to maximized satisfaction and effort from the follower. The Path Goal Theory states leaders must: •Forge a path for followers to obtain their goal through coaching and direction •Remove roadblocks and obstacles that are preventing followers from accomplishing goal •Increase rewards and incentives along the way 1.
Subordinate Factors (Follower Characteristics) A. Ability: A follower’s self-efficacy and self perception of competence in performing tasks to achieve goals. B. Authoritarianism: is defined as the degree to which the followers seek structure and task clarity. C. Experience: Knowledge of or skill in achieving a goal. D. Locus of control: How one perceives how much they can control events that affect their goal achievement. Those with low internal locus of control seek to participate and engage in decision making. On the contrary, those with a strong external locus of control like to be directed and provided structure.
Coach Lengyel has a diverse group of followers with a variety of contrasting personal characteristics. Due to their lack of experience, youth and general “rag-tag” composition, the players on the team lack confidence, ability, cohesion and self efficacy. Given these characteristics, these players have a high external locus of control and yearn for task clarity and guidance. In contrast, Coach Red Dawson and Interim President Donald Dedmon have more autonomy and have established themselves more in their respected roles.
Lengyel adjust to the varying characteristics of these followers by engaging them more in the decision-making process and seeking their advice on certain issues that arise. 2. Environmental Factors: A. Task structure: A leader needs to analyze the elements and nature of a task a follower is responsible for and identify and remove any difficulties it could pose to the follower. B. Formal authority: is the power position of the leader which can affect the satisfaction of a follower. If directive leadership and a highly formal authority system are in place, the redundancy can cause follower dissatisfaction.
C. Work group: Group dynamics and relationship among followers. In situations where team cohesiveness is low, followers need supportive leadership. Where a group is more established and talented, a directive or achievement oriented style is more optimal. The players face significant environmental challenges in both their task structure and work group dynamics. First, the vast majority of the team consists of freshmen or students who have never played organized football. Learning the complex play schemes and the intricacies of the competitive collegiate game in such a short period is certainly daunting.
Moreover, positions players such as the punter do not fully comprehend everything their roles entail. Since almost all the players haven’t played with each other, the team lacks the camaraderie and cohesion of their competitors. The confluence of these factors and the physically demanding tolls of the game have created significant roadblock in accomplishing their goals. The fear of embarrassing the community and university with poor performance on the field and the stress of the tragedy compounds the challenges the team face and weighs on them greatly.
As a result, the players are more sensitive and an overbearing and authoritarian leader will only exacerbate the situation. Similarly, the stress of the tragedy is also weighing significantly on both Coach Dawson and Interim President Dedmon. After losing colleagues and players he coached and recruited from the tragedy, Dawson has significant doubts about whether he can be around the game anymore. The drastic changes with Dawson’s workgroup and formal authority figure are daily reminders of the tragedy that occurred with the team.
The tragedy wears on him and he has a significant effect on his confidence and motivation to fulfill and execute the tasks associated with the assistant coaching job. With Dedmon, the opposition by some in the community to rebuild the football program has made Interim President insecure and timid when approaching tasks with the job. Furthermore, Dedmon’s confidence erodes initially when numerous coaches around the country turn down the offer to coach the Marshall team due seemingly insurmountable challenges facing the program. Dedmon has to adjust o a changing environment surrounding the university and to Coach Lyngel’s energetic and enthusiastic style which contrasts greatly with his own. 3. Leader Behavior: A. Supportive leadership: Consider the needs of the follower, showing concern for their welfare, being approachable as a leader and creating a friendly working environment. This approach is best when the work is stressful, ambiguous and or hazardous. B. Directive leadership: Telling and providing leaders with structure, task clarity while giving appropriate guidance along the way.
The leader sets clear standards of performance in order to decrease role ambiguity. This form of leadership can be helpful when the follower is inexperienced. C. Participative leadership: Effective when followers are autonomous. This form involves consulting with followers and making them an integral part of the decision process. This approach is most effective with followers who are knowledgeable and skilled and have a high internal locus of control. D. Achievement-oriented leadership: Setting challenges goals, both in their work and in self-improvement.
The leader establishes high standard of excellence and leader shows confidence in the capabilities of the follower to succeed. This approach is best when the task is complex. Lengyel has to question whether the famous sports tenet, “Winning isn’t everything; it’s the only thing” is applicable to the season Marshall is about to embark on. His predecessor, like a majority of other coaches led with predominately directive and achievement-oriented styles. Due to the nature of the sport and the intolerance of role ambiguity in the game, Coach Lengyel also exhibits a directive style of leadership in some scenarios.
The players’ perceptions of their abilities are relatively low and Lengyel helps them by clarifying and directing them how to do their tasks. For instance, this directive style of leadership is evident when Lengyel instructs and clarifies the position players like the punter and offensive lineman how to do everything that their role entails. Given the players desire for task clarity and guidance, the directive style would most likely be the most effective leadership style with inexperienced players in most scenarios.
The most important factor however that impacts the follower characteristics and environmental factors is the stress and pressure resulting from the tragedy. Realizing the enormity of the tragedy, Lengyel utilizes a supportive style that provides psychological support and concern to his followers by their acknowledging the pain and frustration. Knowing that Dawson is in a sensitive emotional and mental state, Lengyel isn’t too aggressive in his pursuit to have him on the coaching staff and always carefully listens and assesses Dawson’s objections and feelings.
Lengyel’s pregame speech at the resting spot of six of the players from the Marshall team also exemplifies his exceptional ability to collectively assess both characteristics of his subordinates and the environmental factors when trying to motivate and instill confidence in his team. In the speech he addresses the tragedy of the past, the current team’s shortcomings and even mentions how the team they’re facing has more ability and talent. He declares if they give maximum effort they will not lose and will reach their goals of honoring the memory of the teammates killed in the plane crash and making the community proud.
Lengyel realizes that due to the circumstances, that leading with the directive and achievement oriented styles isn’t the most conducive approach. To motivate the players on the team, Lengyel has to utilize a Supportive style that taps into and emphasizes with the emotions of the players and tries to alleviate the stress and pressure of the situational factors. While some other leaders and his peers ultimately fail in certain circumstances for their stubbornness, Lengyel’s biggest leadership strength in contrast is his flexibility.
As mentioned, with the players on the team Lengyel’s demonstrates mostly directive and supportive styles. In regards to followers with contrasting characteristics of the players, Lengyel is able to successfully adapt his leadership approach to engage and accommodate them. After assessing that the players on the team do not have the ability to execute relatively complex offensive schemes and tasks, Lengyel realizes they need to simplify their playbook. In this instance, because the assistants have established themselves in their respected roles, Lengyel engages them in the decision-making process.
Utilizing the Participative leadership style results in Coach Dawson coming up with the idea to use the simplified Veer Offense. In addition to building trust and satisfaction from the assistant coaches, the players also benefit as it reduces a significant roadblock for them 4. Outcome: A. Performance: Helps followers reach their peak performance. B. Satisfaction: Makes working to obtain goal more satisfying. By successfully adapting to both the characteristics of his subordinates and of the environment, Lengyel helps his followers exert maximum effort and gain satisfaction from obtaining their goals.
Coach Lengyel was able to forge a path for his followers by taking into account the different strengths and weaknesses of his followers. As articulated in his speech the team’s main goal of honoring the memory of the team was to “lay it on the line” and provide maximum effort. Whether it was the players on the players on the field or even Interim President Dedmond aggressively petitioning the NCAA to let their freshmen play, Lengyel’s followers were clearly motivated by his leadership