Discussion Questions and Exercises

  1. What is the underlying assumption of expectancy theory? How does this pose a challenge for the leader?
  2. In brief, what is path–goal theory designed to explain?
  3. Identify four leadership styles associated with path–goal theory. Explain each style and relate it to styles described in other theories. Can leaders exhibit more than one style?
  4. Identify several ways in which follower and task characteristics might determine which style of leadership is most appropriate.
  5. What practical examples can you think of for how leaders can enhance follower motivation?
  6. What leadership traits or competencies are needed to be an effective motivator?
  7. Complete Case 6.1 (or 6.2 or 6.3). Answer all associated questions.
  8. Complete the Path–Goal Leadership Questionnaire. What style do you tend to rely on most? Least? Tell a story that shows how your behavior in one situation illustrated your most common leadership style.
  9. Is path–goal theory useful for deciding how to teach a college class? In what ways is an academic setting different from a work setting? How would you assess the follower characteristics and task characteristics of your class?
  10. The four leader styles are described as static categories. Path–goal theory doesn’t explain how a person learns or develops a leadership style. Are there stages to leadership development?
  11. What is the follower’s role in path–goal theory?
  12. Should a leader adapt his or her style to each individual follower, or to the work group as a whole?
  13. Based on the four follower characteristics, when is achievement-oriented leadership prescribed?
  14. How can a leader find out what is rewarding to followers about their work?
  15. Do men and women leaders motivate followers differently?
  16. Apply path–goal theory to a work group you are currently in. How well does the leader’s style match the follower characteristics and task characteristics of your work group?