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Path-Goal and Situational Theories of Leadership


This discussion focuses on the issues and strengths associated with the path-goal leadership theory. The essay also gives a detailed analysis of the path-goal and situational leadership theories. The discussion explains how the theory can be applied in different healthcare settings.


The purpose of leadership in a healthcare organization is to motivate and empower every caregiver. The targeted practitioners will become satisfied and eventually deliver competent services to their patients. The path-goal theory of leadership “focuses on the behavior of the leader” (Polston-Murdoch, 2013, p. 23). The leader’s behavior significantly determines the level of motivation and performance. The theory identifies specific behaviors that have the potential to improve the quality of patient support.

Strengths and Limitations of the Theory

The path-goal leadership theory has specific strengths thus making it applicable in different organizations. To begin with, the model offers various behaviors that influence the performance and productivity of different healthcare practitioners. These “behaviors include directive-path goal, achievement, support, and participation” (Luna, 2009, p. 22). Leaders can use these behaviors to ensure their workers are motivated, empowered, and mentored (Sarin & O’Connor, 2009). The second strength is that the model is very practical. This is the case because every person focuses on a viable goal.

The theory is also characterized by specific weaknesses. The model “does not offer a distinctive relationship between employee motivation and leadership behavior” (McLean, 2012, p. 79). This weakness makes it inapplicable in different healthcare settings (Polston-Murdoch, 2013). The inclusion of various leadership aspects makes the model extremely confusing. It discourages many leaders and practitioners thus affecting the quality of care.

Comparing Path-Goal and Situational Theories of Leadership

These two leadership models encourage managers to embrace change. They “treat leadership as a fluid role that depends on the changing needs and expectations of the targeted workers” (McLean, 2012, p. 83). The two theories encourage leaders to coach, direct, delegate, and support their workers. Leaders can use these two theories to direct their workers. The leader interacts with every follower in an attempt to get the best outcomes.

These theories also present certain differences. For instance, situational leadership “embraces specific behaviors depending on the characteristics of different employees” (Polston-Murdoch, 2013, p. 28). Skilled workers should be supported while unskilled ones should be directed. The path-goal theory focuses on four specific behaviors that provide a clear direction for all employees. The theory also encourages leaders to interact with their followers to achieve their objectives.

Validity of the Path-Goal Theory

It is agreeable that the path-goal theory is very complex. However, the theory can be used to develop the best working environment whereby every caregiver is motivated. Healthcare Leaders (HLs) can use the theory to select the best behaviors to support their workers (Sarin & O’Connor, 2009). The theory will make it easier for leaders to offer various rewards. Such rewards will improve the quality of care availed to different patients (Nahavandi, 2014). The theory also equips workers with specific elements and values. Such values make it easier for them to achieve the best goals.


The path-goal theory of leadership has the potential to produce the best goals in every healthcare organization. This is the case because the model deals with the concept of motivation. The theory is also practical and applicable in various healthcare settings. However, healthcare leaders should embrace other models to maximize their goals. This approach will support the health needs of many patients.

Reference List

Luna, B. (2009). An analysis of the nuances and practical applications of situational leadership in the management and administration of international healthcare organizations. International Journal of e-Business Management, 3(5), 18-24.

McLean, G. (2012). Organization Development: Principles, Processes, and Performance. New York, NY: Berrett-Koehler Publishers.

Nahavandi, A. (2014). The Art and Science of Leadership. Upper-Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

Polston-Murdoch, L. (2013). An Investigation of Path-Goal Theory, Relationship of Leadership Style, Supervisor-Related Commitment, and Gender. Emerging Leadership Journeys, 6(1), 13-44.

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.

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