Sunday, February 20, 2011

Al Gore and Path Goal Theory

When looking at the environmental crisis as a whole, I couldn't help but to think of the path goal theory we had recently learned about and discussed in class. The focus of this theory is how leaders motivate their followers/subordinates to follow them. One of the biggest obstacles in this crisis has seemed to be the incapability of any leader to effectively motivate the population to follow. We've seen an array of tactics used by leaders including all four leader behaviors (directive, supportive, participative, achievement oriented) from the path goal theory.

When realizing this and applying the theory to the countless "environmental leaders" we've had in our society, I'm left wondering if any of these behaviors would be any more effective than the others in this situation? Or is the issue too large and the followers too diverse to simply use one leadership behavior? I feel with such a diverse following an environmental leader would have, that it would leave them unable to effectively motivate the followers.

I wanted to apply this theory in more detail to Al Gore and his role in the environmental crisis. I felt that he would be a useful leader to apply it to because he has been one of the most active, influential, powerful, and popular leaders throughout our country's focus on the environment. He has lead in all types of situations and has tried using various tactics for motivating his followers (the American public). While he's now not as much focused on being in the public eye but instead focuses on investing in new eco companies, he still is an influential leader and is someone our country is going to most likely want to have around when we decide to start acting aggressively on the environment.

Al Gore has done many things for the environmental movement and is constantly trying raise awareness on the topic. While his actions have hit on each of the leader behaviors in the path goal theory, I feel the two we see the most out of him have been supportive and participative. One could argue while in office his influence on environmental policy making could also be considered directive behavior, but with policies and laws including so many people I feel that unless they're highly unpopular or "ground-breaking" they really shouldn't be used to define a leader. I feel he shows the supportive behavior through his actions after his time in office as vice president. His books and movies have made him seem more approachable (far from the truth with his celebrity status) simply because they make him come off as trying to make the world a little better and pleasant for us. The conversational style and feel of the movie and books have made him seem more down to earth rather than the politician-writer-actor-celebrity that he is. While you can argue he isn't approachable or "supportive" because the follower could never get in touch with him, but I feel for someone of his stature the supportive behavior has to be applied differently simply because of the amount of followers. I feel it should be instead measured by how supportive his followers feel he is and how well they think he hits on the points of being a supportive leader. I also feel Gore has been showing participative behavior through the release of his movie; "An Inconvenient Truth and his two books on the environment. Gore was able to utilize the media in the best way for getting the information out to his followers and for showing them how to get involved. I think he did an excellent job at this because he was able to realize which media forms were going to be most effective for him and he also was able to spark huge media attention to his movie thus brining in even more followers.

But Al Gore now handles investments for eco companies? I'm afraid that maybe he's realized that there really is no way to motivate the followers and that even as countless environmental leaders use different leadership behaviors, that there really is no effective way to motivate such a large and diverse group of followers?

Which behavior from the path goal theory do you feel would be most effective in getting the American public motivated to make changes?

Is the path goal theory applicable when your dealing with situations like this where the characteristics of the subordinates are too diverse? How can a leader choose the most effective behavior if their leading millions of people?

-Daniel Salsinger

1 comment:

  1. These are interesting observations, but I am wondering what task and subordinate factors from path-goal theory would have predicted the effectiveness of these observed behaviors?