Achievement Oriented Leadership – A Complete Guide

In this article, you’ll discover what achievement-oriented leadership is, how to implement it and the advantages of doing so.

As a coach who has worked with business leaders in several different fields, I have seen the advantages and disadvantages of various leadership styles.

Read on to learn how achievement oriented leadership compares to other styles of leadership.

Let’s dive into it:

Achievement Oriented Leadership
source: (Steven Lelham)

What does it mean to be achievement oriented?

Achievement oriented leadership is one of four styles identified within Martin G. Evans’ path goal theory of leadership.

What are the 4 leadership styles?

The four styles of leadership, as defined by Evans’ path-goal theory, are summarised below: 

  • Achievement oriented leadership.
    The leader sets challenging goals for their employees and expects them to perform at their best.
    Instead of focusing on the personal needs of the employees, leaders tend to concentrate mostly on the achievements being completed by them.
    They show confidence in an employee’s ability to achieve these goals.  
  • Directive leadership.
    The leader makes it very clear what is expected of the employees and how to achieve these goals.
    This style is also known as micro-management.
  • Participative leadership.
    The leader asks for suggestions from their employees and makes a decision based on their feedback.
  • Supportive leadership.
    The leader makes decisions based primarily on the satisfaction of their employees. 

The recommended style of leadership is typically dependent on your field of work and the demographics of your team. 

When is achievement oriented leadership recommended? 

Achievement oriented leadership is recommended when you’re working with employees who have high levels of motivation to achieve excellence.

If you’re in a field where the highest performers are rewarded more, this leadership style would definitely help. 

You can expect managers in sales, science, engineering or entrepreneurial roles to adopt this style.  

It can also prove useful in fields of work where the staff suffer from boredom due to a lack of challenging goals. 

What are the advantages of achievement-oriented leadership? 

Once the advantages and disadvantages of achievement oriented leadership become clearer, it becomes easier to understand when it’s necessary to use it. 

The five biggest advantages and disadvantages are listed below.   


  • Goals are communicated clearly.
    The expectations of a leader who adopts an achievement-oriented style tend to be a lot clearer.
    Employees are extremely aware whether or not they are performing well. 
  • Employees can manage their time better.
    With clear goals in place, it becomes easier for employees to manage their time.
    Indeed, as long as these goals are met, they can manage their time however they see fit.  
  • Deadlines are consistent.
    It is common for leaders adopting this style to set lots of deadlines.
    This is an effective strategy for rapid business growth. 
  • It’s easy to incentivise employees.
    Incentives are one of the most powerful tools that leaders can use to encourage hard work.
    When their leadership style is based around achievement, it becomes easier to consistently and fairly incentivise workers for meeting targets.
    It also allows leaders to fairly penalise workers who aren’t pulling their weight.     
  • Success.
    Good employees tend to go above and beyond when this leadership style is implemented correctly.
    As such, this is the style most likely to breed success.  
Achievement Oriented Leader
source: (Carl Heyerdahl)


  • Employees can feel under-appreciated.
    When high achievement is constantly expected, this can leave little room for employee praise.
    In many cases, a lack of positive feedback can lead to employees feeling under-appreciated or suffering from burnout, especially if they suffer from low confidence.     
  • Employee feedback is reduced.
    By definition, this leadership style leaves little room for feedback from staff.
    As well as potentially leaving employees feeling under-appreciated, it also leaves little opportunity for your business processes to be improved. 
  • High employee turnover.
    The unforgiving nature of achievement-oriented leadership tends to lead to high employee turnover, either due to a lack of employee satisfaction or having to fire under-performing workers. 
  • A lack of innovation.
    Leaders working with this style aren’t looking for innovative thinkers.
    They want employees who can follow the steps and consistently get the work done at a high level of performance.
    This lack of innovation can be bad for the long-term stability of the company, as well as employee morale.  
  • It can be stressful for leaders as well as employees.
    It requires an imperious individual to successfully implement this leadership style.
    You live and die by your results – and this can be stressful for some leaders.
    As such, there is a danger that they could also suffer from a lack of job satisfaction or burnout.   

How to successfully implement achievement-oriented leadership 

There are some fields of work where an achievement-oriented style is essential.

However, not everyone has it in them to adopt this style successfully. 

A great achievement-oriented leader would have to be excited and motivated by the thrills and rewards that come with success.

When a leader feels this way, they are often able to naturally handle the ups and downs of an achievement-oriented environment.

For them, the highs are so fulfilling that they can put up with the ruthless lows. 

The more desire an individual has for success, the easier they will find it to adopt this management style. 

It is difficult to artificially develop this desire for yourself.

Not everyone has a desperate hunger for success naturally burning inside of them.   

However, it is possible to motivate people to feel this way.

Passion is infectious. Inspiration is contagious.

And a good leader is able to inspire their team to want to achieve greatness.

This skill is learnable.  

Having said that, it will also help if a leader is good at spotting an employee who will naturally respond well to challenging goals and the chaotic atmosphere of an achievement-oriented workplace. 

By building a team that is already excited by this working environment, it becomes easier to maintain an achievement-oriented leadership style with few problems.   

Achievement Oriented Leadership

Now you’ve read the guide, perhaps you realise you’ve worked with achievement oriented leadership before?

Thanks for stopping by and reading my guide. Share this piece with a friend to help them too!

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About The Author

Bijan Kholghi is a certified life coach with the Milton Erickson Institute Heidelberg (Germany). He helps clients and couples reach breakthroughs in their lives by changing subconscious patterns. His solution-oriented approach is based on Systemic- and Hypnotherapy.