The Path-Goal theory

The Path-Goal Theory is used in the Jeanne Lewis case mainly because of the leader follower model and Ms. Lewis makes excellent examples of it.  Ms. Lewis demonstrated the use of Directive Leadership when she took on the director of operations for New England where they had $250 million P&L.  The stores where lacking leadership and needed an organizational overhaul.  As stated by Lewis herself:

 “My style is that I want things to happen quickly.  When I see things-either a new problem someone has never had to figure out before, or where they’ve just had a different sense of timing—I jump in and say, “Here’s the way to do it,” and that makes change happen quickly.  But that could limit my ability to work across and with the organization.  I could end up spending too much time managing down and not enough time making broader, more expansive impact by managing across the organization as well.

Her attitude is reflected in her style and her ability to change this style on the fly demonstrates a remarkable organizational knack.  Lewis was ready for the world and more than capable of managing the marketing department as her first managerial roll at Staples.

Lewis went to work immediately by revamping several store associates and replacing them in a short 12 month period.  This is a good example of adapting to the present situation.  She was faced with know-it all and seasoned associated that refused to follow protocol.  Lewis took a bold approach and decided to start with a new team, one that was ready to listen and most importantly, follow.  By training the new associates as opposed to re-training the old, she didn’t have to de-program first.

Lewis was able to set standards and start new programs for training that paid off.  As illustrated in the textbook, Hershey points outs “that by clarifying the work methods, procedures and objectives may lead to more effort, increased satisfaction, and improved job performance.”  Lewis was able to achieve this goal with the new associates where she had to clearly spell out what it was she wanted and expected.

She was able to train them specifically for this purpose and exactly how she wanted.  Jeanne Lewis made good use of the Path-Goal theory by analyzing the situation she was faced with before determining what it was she needed to do, before initializing her game plan.

After successfully turning around one department she was immediately placed in another challenging position, director of sales on the East coast.  It was here that Jeanne Lewis would demonstrate the supportive leadership by challenging her team, by working hard and being an example that the other workers were proud to work for.  Her style and personality actually motivated the team to work harder, to be challenged.

Again Lewis ran a tight ship at first, but changed her style to fit the situation by easing up after the team was on track with the direction that the department was now going.  Some members of the team would say “She challenged us a lot, and invited us to challenge each other”.  Before Lewis the East Coast team was lacking that self-confidence and motivation they needed to make an impact on the sales department.  The entire team grew both personally and professionally.  They were now confident and eager to achieve high returns for their newly re-kindled sales force.

So now we have another year and yet another move for Lewis, now she is in merchandising as the vice president and divisional merchandising manager for furniture and decorative supplies.  Similar to what happened in operations; she was in a position where she lacked the hands on experience.  But, her natural instinct was to manage, and manage she did.  Lewis would now demonstrate the achievement-oriented leadership style by her strategic talents and penetrating mind.

As suggested by the authors of the Management of Organizational Behavior, the achievement –orientated leadership, many of her new team lacked challenges and didn’t have any goals for accomplishing profitability.  Lewis made that happen.  She liked to inspire dialog and motivated the team intensely.  Jeanne Lewis would have one-on-one interactions and showed the team how to maximize DPP.

Lewis influenced the people and gained their respect because of her insight and great personality.  Ms. Lewis encouraged achievement and goal setting and set the teams standards higher for achieving.  She gave them hope, and something to focus on and towards.

Lewis had become known for being able to turn around a department.  “Jeanne Lewis was able to influence people and get respect because she had great insight, and she combined it with a great natural personality”.

Jeanne Lewis would change her style to be adaptive to the situation at hand.  When the team she was leading needed a supportive leader, she was there to encourage them.  Whenever they lacked confidence she was there boosting their morale and built a very confident, ready to achieve team she needed to entrust to having her back.  Lewis would immediately change to a more directive leadership when the time was demanding.  She would strategize and develop ways to make her team think and maximize productivity.

She earned the respect of her colleagues and they supported their position with analyses.  Lewis is a motivator, a team leader and an inspirer of people.  Her team reacted just as she predicted them to; they were more responsive and eager to achieve more.  The team would now actually challenge each other and accomplished even more goals.

Lewis began in merchandising as a raw, never bought a product person, now in charge of managing a group of buyers where she would have to fix a dysfunctional department that was failing.  She didn’t have time for her to be taught the ropes by anyone who reported to her so she had to switch styles to adapt to the situation.  Ms. Lewis has a natural God given instinct for managing, even though she had no experience in merchandising, she had confidence in her team.  The challenge was to get them to have this confidence and turn the department around.

That is when she switched to a one-one one approach from her usual group settings.  Things got intense, it was working, and productivity was increased as well as the team confidence. Where some of the team members were afraid to speak out in a group setting, Lewis was able to inspire dialogue with them in a more private setting with just the two of two of them.

Ms. Lewis was strategizing again, using her talents to influence people and earning the respect she deserved.

Jeanne Lewis’ effects on the outcome of her followers were obviously positive.  Her style was always adaptable to the situation. She made the comment on one occasion that emphasis this when she stated:

“The first time I decided to challenge a marketing program, I thought we were going to have some good honest dialogue around it.  But the person was devastated.  I realize I needed to shift my style or would have people leaving my office in tears an end up accomplishing nothing.”

The follower’s reaction to Ms. Lewis leadership style was illustrated in the first example, Directive Leadership, when the team showed her much respect for all her hard work that began as a nose to grind style, which soon showed a looser, even compassionate Lewis.  It was this attitude and style that challenged her new team and even encouraged them to challenge each other.

Her efforts paid off, by achieving what she set out to accomplish; a new team, a new attitude and a very successful department.   This success led to Jeanne Lewis being moved to another department to offer her expertise as the new VP and divisional merchandising manager for furniture and decorative supplies.  The department she now managed learned that in order to influence Lewis that had to get down and dirty with it.  Now they found themselves needing to roll their sleeves up and support what their positions were with analyses.  With Ms. Lewis’ inspiration the team was able to turn the department around and tripling the direct product profitability.

Ms. Lewis used a one-one approach that reflected a very supportive leadership style that influenced people and helped them with their professional growth.  It was because of Jeanne Lewis’s insight that was able to build a team into a profitable team, by encourage them to use what that already had, but just didn’t know they had it in them Lewis brought this out of people with her great natural personality.  It was easy for people to work harder when they had a leader that was giving it her all.  The motivation that she inspired in the people was rewarding for all.  She built an empire that was ready to go to the top.

Jeanne Lewis was a go-getter.  She has talents for bringing out the best in people.  The achievement-orientated leadership is the outcome that all managers live for.  The sense of achievement, a manager’s purpose and soul reason for their existence.  Ms Lewis had this down pack.

Her followers were encouraged, inspired and motivated to achieve.  Every department that Lewis was put in charge of did, did just that.  She could turn around a department and make them achieve great profits, even if she knew nothing about the department.  She knew she had good people in place and instilled a confidence in the people to produce, to achieve success.  She was able to make them profitable.

In Summary when we compare what Hershey, Blanchard and Johnson illustrated in their book, the House-Mitchell Path-Goal Theory is exactly what Jeanne Lewis was about.  Her ability to adapt a leadership style to what the followers needed to be successful in any given task.  Ms. Lewis was effective because she made a great impact on motivating each department at Staples that had the opportunity to be led by such a great leader.

She influenced their awareness of the goals they were faced with by demonstrated the path to achieve it.  Jeanne Lewis’ attitude, persona and natural persuasion are what made her successful.  Her ability to change a style when she notices the effect it had on employees, like seeing a person almost in tears or being able to pick up on the fact that maybe this group would be more productive or creative if she switched to a one-on-on setting as opposed to the normal group puts her in an elite group of leaders.

Whatever Ms. Lewis so missing in a certain situation is where her expertise was put into play.  Not everyone would be able to pick up on such minimal signs.  What Ms. Lewis did best was increase personal buoyancy which led to increased personal rewards and consequently led to professional rewards for the company.

Lewis had the ability to point out way to do this; she would make it obvious that this course of action was not working, so let’s try it this way.  He job was to make this an easier transition, even though she might not have the expertise in a particular area, she had the expertise, the knowledge and the ability to take a department from an underperforming state to a high achieving department that all could be proud of.  She increased moral and mad people want to achieve and give it their all.  What Ms. Lewis demonstrated here is clearly is the Path-Goal theory because she had major influences on her followers’ attitude, goals and overall self-esteem.