Motivation and leadership

Posted by: whonderjohn in General

Tagged in: blogs




It has been established that inspite of all the leadership types, charismatic transformational or transactional, the style of leadership has a big influence on followers.  Leadership style is simply how a leader leads his followers or subordinates in order to achieve a set of objectives considering the positive response of his followers. Leadership and motivation go hand in hand. In other words for leadership to be effective, subordinates must be motivated even though this requirement is to attempt to explain how subordinates can be motivated by leadership style mention must be made of motivation how and how people are motivated and how it is linked to leadership.  The early study of motivation centered on the content theories and process theories which assume that some factors exist within individuals that energize direct and sustain their behaviour and also attempt to describe how behaviour is energized, directed and sustained respectively.  Content theorists like Maslow with his hierarchy of needs, Alderfer's ERG theory, and Hertzberg's motivator-hygiene model might be discussed in brief as well as process theorists like Vroom with his expectancy theory.  Briefly, Maslow contends that an individuals needs influences his behaviour until it is achieved.  These needs are physiological (air) safety and security (physical and emotional) belongingness (love), esteem (self-esteem respect) and self-actualization (self-fulfillment, achievements) with the first three categorised building on Maslow's content theory, Alderfer postulated the Existence-Relatedness-Growth (ERG) (1972) theory arguing that the needs categories could be regrouped/reclassified into three

Ø                    Existence (physiological and safety needs)

Ø                    Relatedness (interpersonal relationships)

Ø                    Growth (potential development)


Ironically, Alderfer and Maslow's theories agree that for individuals to be motivated, it is important to satisfy those needs inherent in them.  Lastly, Hertzberg's motivator-Hygiene model is a 2-factor theory of motivation and job satisfaction.  The hygiene factors, which are concerned with the job environment and the absence of which cause dissatisfaction are


Ø                    salary

Ø                    job security

Ø                    working condition

Ø                    level and quality of supervision

Ø                    Company policy and administration.


The second factor which is present, serve to motivate the individual to superior effort and performance are related to the job content of the work itself and are called the motivators or growth factors.  Hertzberg then explained that the opposite of dissatisfaction is not satisfaction but dissatisfaction.  The motivators are sense of achievement.


Ø                    recognition

Ø                    responsibility             

Ø                    nature of the work

Ø                    Personal growth and advancement; despite the numerous criticisms, this theory is referred to in Europe than any other theory.  (Donnelly, 1994)


Furthermore, before looking at how leadership style can motivate subordinates, a look at writings by process theorist like Vroom's expectancy theory would not be out of line.  In Vroom's expectancy theory (VIE), he lamented on three issues namely:


Ø                    Valency; which means the degree of satisfaction in other words the feeling of specific outcomes.  An obvious example being money.

Ø                    Instrumentality; that is the belief that if we do one thing it will lead to another explaining that people generally receive reward for what they have achieved rather than for effort alone or through trying hard.

Ø                    Expectancy; when a person chooses between alternative behaviours which have uncertain outcomes, the choice is affected not only by preference for a particular outcome but also by probability that such an outcome will be achieved.


Now, having considered the major theories based on which people are motivated.  An attempt will now be made to explain how leadership style can motivate subordinate based on the theories from the way the requirement has been stated, it implied leadership in managerial sense.


Sometimes management and leadership are seen to be the same.  However, there is a difference between the two and it does not follow that ever leader is a manager.  Belbin suggests that leadership is not part of the job but a quality that can be brought to a job.  The work that leadership encompasses in the context clearly is not assigned but comes about spontaneously.  The essence of leadership is followship.  Someone also defines leadership as 'getting others to follow' or 'getting people to do things willingly'.  Despite the differences between leadership and management, there is a close relationship between leadership and management in work organisation.  To be an effective manager it is necessary to exercise the role of leadership.  A common view is that the job of the manager requires the ability of leadership. 


There are basically four kinds of leadership styles.  Despite the different names used, however, the concepts are very often similar.  The four main kinds of leadership styles are:

(1) Concern for people: the extent to which (employee-centered); the leader is   concerned about his or her subordinates as people in terms of their needs, interest, problems, development rather than simply treating them as production units.  Again because of individual perception and relative needs, citing Vroom's expectancy theory when an individual realises that by choosing between working hard over not doing that, he/she is going to be rewarded by a leader who is concerned about his needs, he will definitely be highly motivated and give of his best.  In this instance, money might not really be the main motivator but rather the leader subordinate relationship is enough.

(2)In contrast, concern for task also known as task-oriented, the leader is so much concerned with task than people.  To motivate staff, using this style, a lot of incentives in terms of money and most be introduced.  Money is not an end in itself but a means to an end.  This style might also work well with people who want to be identified with a particular company (or brand) with such people; they will do anything to stay in the job.  Thus, any form of reward ranging from showing of appreciation and money will be enough motivator.  Personally I know of few friends who were bent on working for organisations that they turned away offers from similar but well-paid organisations.  Maslow's hierarchy of needs might be a good theory to explain how participative style of leadership (permissive democrat) can motivate subordinates who are skilled, confident and those who want to perform as best as they can. In a real-case scenario where the subordinate is involved in the decision-making of his organisation, he or she might consider it an honour thus being motivated and give of his best.  Working for a company in Ghana some years back, my boss was fond of me and my involvement with that cluster was a real motivating factor to me as a new graduate and so I was doing anything within my means like staying late into the night to work.  Suddenly his style changed and so was my attitude towards work; thus not motivated even though by Ghanaian standard I was well paid. 

(3)Another leadership style- directive autocrat leadership (also known as autocrat leadership) is the style used by leaders who want to unilaterally make all decisions and closely supervise the work of those who report to them.  This style is effective to new employee or novice who are willing to learn or subordinates looking for a conductive environment to fulfill a long-time dream or self-actualisation as put forward in Hertzberg's hygiene factor as level and quality of supervision.  To the new and ambitious employee this is a dream come true and so would be motivated.

(4)Transformational leadership behaviour (sometimes used to mean charismatic leadership)From the verb 'to transform', it is said to be a process not a state in which  leaders and followers raise each other to higher levels of morality and motivation. 


Bass defined transformational leader as one who motivates us to do more than we originally intended to do.  It is also contend that followers of transformational leaders tend to be motivated by such high order needs as achievement and itself-actualization rather than lesser needs like security.


In practice, therefore, a transformational leadership is vital if individuals could be able to give of their best.  This is as a result of the motivation they get from the transformational leader.



Finally, according to John Adair, to be more effective, a leader must simultaneously satisfy three sets of interconnecting needs: task, group and individual.  Hence a manager must be able to identify and help individuals to meet their needs.  He must also satisfy the group maintenance needs.  As a group leader the manager should bring to bear on his group his ability to let the group feel they are one and interdependent thus fostering unity of purpose, building team spirit and morale by which set objectives could be achieved.  His failure to bind the group together can end as a disaster or lack of confidence in the leadership. He must also satisfy the task needs.  This is to do with the task assigned to the group in the organisation.  The leader's role is to make sure that the members in the group are enthused and prepared to complete the task assigned.  Leaders as managers must apply all the means necessary if employees are going to stay in the company.  Relating to the task needs is that leadership must clarify access to resources to back the group members to accomplish their goals for instance, a set amount available for their assignment.

 A story is told of a group in a company tasked to investigate whether corporate headquarters had pollutants in the air that can cause sickness and help rectify the problem.  The problem was diagnosed at relative no expense but the CEO rejected recommendations to install new windows.



In conclusion, it could be vouched that for subordinates to be motivated, the leaders style becomes vital in that each and every subordinate, employee or follower has a peculiar need which if properly 'touched' will motivate that individual.  Obviously, it is also possible to meet the needs of a whole group in an organisation as a result of a leadership style.  Thus an appropriate style could be used in an appropriate situation.




1.         Barret, J, (1998) Total leadership, How to inspire and motivate for personal and team effectiveness, Kogan Page, London

2.         Bigley, A.G. Porter, L:W; Steers, R.M; (1996) Motivation and Leadership at work, 6th Edition, McGraw Hill, Singapore

3.         Curtis, S; Curtis, B (1995) Behaviour at work, 2nd Edition; Pitman Publishing, London.

4.         Dale, M. (1993) Developing Management Skills Techniques for improving bearing and performance, Kogan Page, London.

5.         Drucker, P.F (1993) The Practice of Management; Butterworth and Heinemann, Oxford.

6.         Dubrin, J.A (1998) The complete idiot's guide to leadership; alpha books, New York.

7.         Hickman, R.C (1990) Mind of a Manager, soul of a leader, John Wiley and sons Inc (New York)

8.         Mullins, L.J (1999) Management and organisational behaviour, 5th Edition, Financial Times/Pitman Publishing London

9.         Shackleton, V (1995) Business Leadership, Routledge, London

10.    Wright, P. (1996) Managerial Leadership, Routledge, London.