EXAMPLE Task structure can be low or high.Low.Low task structure occurs whenEmployees are not clear about their roles or performance expectations and have high role ambiguity.Directive and supportive leadership should help employees experiencing role ambiguity.High.High task structure occurs whenEmployees work on routine and simple tasks.Directive leadership is likely to frustrate such employees. Supportive leadership is most useful in this context.Does the Revised Path-Goal Theory Work?There are not enough direct tests of House’s revised path-goal theory to draw overall conclusions. Nonetheless, the theory offers us three key points.1.Use more than one style of leadership.Effective leaders use multiple types of leader behavior. Familiarize yourself with the eight types of leader behavior outlined in path-goal theory and try new behaviors when the situation calls for them.2.Help employees achieve their goals. Clarify the paths to goal accomplishment and remove any obstacles that may impair an employee’s ability to achieve his or her goals. 3.Page 526Modify your leadership style to fit various employee and environmental characteristics.Remember that a small set of employee characteristics (ability, experience, and needfor independence) and environmental factors (task characteristics of autonomy, variety, and significance) are relevant contingency factors.78Applying Contingency TheoriesAlthough researchers and practitioners support the logic of contingency leadership, its practical applications have not been clearly developed. A team of researchers proposed a general strategy managers can use across a variety of situations, however. It has five steps.79To describe them, let’s use the examples of a head coach of a sports team and a sales manager.
Step 1: Identify important outcomes.Managers must first identify the goals they want to achieve. For example, the head coach may have games to win or wish to avoid injury to key players,whereas a sales manager’s goal might be to increase sales by 10 percent or reduce customers’ complaints by half.Step 2: Identify relevant leadership behaviors.Next managers need to identify the specific types of behaviors that may be appropriate for the situation at hand. The list in Table 13.4is a good starting point. A head coach in a championship game, for instance, might focus on achievement-oriented and work-facilitation behaviors. In contrast, a sales manager might find path-goal–clarifying, work-facilitation, and supportive behaviors more relevant for the sales team. Don’t try to use all available leadership behaviors. Rather, select the one or two that appear most helpful.Step 3: Identify situational conditions.Fiedler and House both identify a set of potential contingency factors to consider, but there may be other practical considerations. For example, a star quarterback on a football team may be injured, which might require the team to adopt a different strategy for winning the game. Similarly, the need to manage a virtual sales team with