To what extent can motivation be used as a leadership tool? Discuss with reference to one or more organizational environments that you are familiar with.?
Darwin E Smith, in the year 1971 was promoted from the post of an in-house lawyer to the Chief Executive Officer of Kimberly Clark. Before he joined the company, the market stock structure was down by 36%. But when Smith retired, Kimberly Clark was enjoying the position of the leading consumer paper products company by beating its immediate rivals namely Proctor and Gamble and also by showing better performance from other companies such as Coco- Cola and General Electric (Blunt, 1985). The point of discussion of this paper will be that motivation can be used as a significant leadership tool within any organization. We shall focus on the point that leadership should not be confused with management and motivation is actually understood by management. With an intent to support this argument, the far-reaching effect of motivation as a leadership tool will be discussed in detail here by looking at a selection of different motivational theories, the difference between management and leadership, rules that govern effective leadership with supporting examples and comparing and contrasting motivation within two very different types of organizations namely a network marketing company and a security company specializing in manned guarding. We shall take into account only a few motivational theories by which it will be possible to argue that the implementation of these theories as a leadership tool is likely to benefit organizations.
Schools of Motivation
There are various schools that exist which intend to define motivation but because of the presence of this multi-disciplinary interest, no single comprehensive definition of motivation has yet been achieved. In the words of a common man, motivation can be explained very simplistically as ‘to be moved to do something’ (Kotherja and Rapti, 2015). The study of motivation raises the reasoning behind why people act in a particular way. Buchanan and Huczynski define motivation as an internal process of human psychology in which humans initiate, energize, direct and maintain a goal-directed behavior (McGee, 2000). Putting in simple words, the definition can be explained as the internal force which harnesses the energy and focuses the harnessed energy towards an anticipated outcome. Campbell and Pritchard explained motivation in a more multifaceted definition. According to their view, it is nothing but a collection of interchangeable links that influence our individual behavior while we take into account the competence, expertise and the limits that are imposed on us by the environment.
Motivation is a complex phenomenon and its understanding plays an integral role in the effectiveness of motivational strategy within an organization (PATTEN, 1968). It has been suggested by Ryan and Deci that motivation is not a unitary phenomenon. They have also stated that apart from the presence of different amounts of motivation, there also are different kinds of same. They also vary in their level and their orientation (Lens, Paixão and Herrera, 2009). These different types of motivation are commonly known as intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation has been described by them as the impetus to do something without being motivated by an external force and the reward for the action stems from the internal satisfaction (Abuhamdeh and Csikszentmihalyi, 2011). Thus, the motivation to engage in behavior arises before the knowledge of any external reward. A practical and simple example of this can be a child building a puzzle to get pleasure when the haphazard pieces of the puzzle finally become a perfect picture after fitting together. Extrinsic motivation is just opposite to intrinsic motivation. It refers to an engagement of behavior because either for getting a reward or under the fear of punishment (Hummel, 2014). An example of this will be a child building a puzzle because either he has been promised an ice-cream if he finishes it or he has been threatened of caning if he fails to do it.
Theories of Motivation
Theories of motivation can be divided into two categories namely Content Theories of Motivation and Process Theories of Motivation. The former categories are those ones that inherently focus on the need of the people, their strengths and the steps which the people take in order to meet their needs (Grahn and Gard, 2008). Various theories have been given in this regard like that of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Theory, Herzberg’s Two-factor Theory, McClelland’s Achievement Motivation Theory and so on and so forth. The latter ones that are Process Theories broadly classify as the extrinsic ones and they focus primarily on the correlations between the dynamic variables and the necessary actions that influence behavior and action skills (Uusiautti and Määttä, 2011). The ones that fall under this classification are Adam’s Equity Theory, Locke’s Goal Theory, Heider and Kelley’s Attribution Theory, etc.
Content theories have a coherent principle that all people generally share a familiar set of fundamental needs, an inner state of anxiety or distress which makes the individual get motivated towards changing. When the requirements are generally met, the individuals display a level of satisfaction while if the needs are not met with, then he displays an uncomfortable internal imbalance which can only be restored when the individual is motivated to react to satisfy his requirements.
We shall now probe into looking deeply as to the extent to which motivation can be used as a leadership tool. Generally, people have a notion that motivation is something which is used to make people work towards meeting a certain end. This can be in a number of ways like paying extra allowances or providing promotions etc. before understanding what actually motivation is, we shall understand and discuss the basic elements of leadership. Basically, leadership is the talent of establishing precedence and marshalling assets to achieve meaningful goals. A leader is a person who asks questions not only to himself but also to other members of his administrative team who redefine regularly the purpose and the role of their institution. The leader remains duty bound to clarify the goals of the institution and notice the objectives. He constantly probes to remind his team of those ends. Leadership quality imbibes the art of recognizing the mistake including one’s own mistakes and also making an attempt to correct those mistakes before it becomes detrimental towards the health of the institution and it starts to bleed.
The leaders of today must exercise the skill of motivating the people to achieve increasingly complex and costly goals. Just as a craftsman employs his tools to complete his work, similarly, the leaders are bound to employ human resources to achieve their goals. Today’s workers are no longer as they used to be twenty years back. They do not suffer from insecurities of losing their jobs like they had few years before. Hence, they are not inbound anymore to submit towards their leaders. Rather, it has become the responsibility of the leaders to make it a point to motivate their workers to work in order to meet the targets of the companies. In order to motivate the workers, a good understanding of the worker and his mentality is very essential.
We shall take into account the two-factor theory as propounded by Herzberg to find out what the various factors which motivate an employee to work towards betterment are and what the factors which prove detrimental towards this end are. The positive factors towards this end are achievement associated with a sense of being able to see something tangible, recognition or appreciation from supervisors or colleagues, job satisfaction and getting rewarded for better working efficiencies, increased sense of responsibility, advancement and promotion associated with a sense of growth (Bassettâ€Jones and Lloyd, 2005). On the other hand, things which people do not like about their jobs are the presence of restrictive policies, poor supervision of managers, poor interpersonal relationships, poor working conditions, poor wages and salary, and low status and lack of security in the job. The vital element of Herzberg’s two-factor theory is that the conditions which influence job satisfaction and those which influence job dissatisfaction are entirely separate entities and remain distinct from each other.
The goal setting theory as propounded by Edwin A. Locke, explains how human beings work in specific situations. The theory states that aims and intents are cognitive and willful and they act as mediators of human actions and our requirements generally along with our aims are mediated by our values which finally become beneficial for us (Stratton, 2005). The main proposition of this theory is that location specific goals produce higher level of presentation than setting general goals. The theory also believes that those goals which are difficult to achieve are positively and directly connected to performance. The believers propound that the more difficult a goal will be to reach, the harder will the employees try to achieve the goal. As per the requirements of this theory, the managers and employers jointly identify common objectives and define areas of responsibility in terms of the expected results, through mutual agreement in order to obtain the personal commitment of the employees and finally use the objectives as a guide to operate the unit and assess the contribution of each of the members.
Practical studies reveal that there are some managers who feel threatened by goal setting because they struggle to hand over the control of the projects and feel that they are losing authority when they allow employees directly to participate in goal setting and the development of action plans. In this plan, the managers generally make the employees understand all that is to be done and set the standards before them. The employees are then free to act upon any strategy to achieve the goals.
Further, Maslow in his theory had provided two essentials. These are firstly; human beings are constantly in a state of wanting which implies that their needs are never satisfied (Mathes and Edwards, 1978). Secondly, he states that there are very few individuals who actually reach a state of complete satisfaction. Maslow as pointed out that human beings are motivated by unsatisfied needs and there are certain lower factors which should be satisfied before one caters to higher needs. Maslow stated that before a person can start acting unselfishly, he necessarily adheres to the hierarchical structure of needs he propounded (Michael and Green, 1982). These are as per the given order namely physiological, survival, safety, love and finally esteem.
As far as this theory in the practical world is concerned, it has been observed over a long period that safety needs generally come above job security in enterprises. The higher place is held by stable higher evaluation of their work and earning respect from others while self-actualization comes in the second level. In a work environment, the fulfillment of higher order needs forms an integral part in reaching optimum productivity, which is one of the end goals of almost every organization. It is important to realize though that work itself is not necessary to gratify higher order needs. People reach different levels of needs through a wide array of other activities as well.
The theory of Maslow was developed to a certain extent by Alderfer. He propounded the ERG theories which stand for Existence, Relatedness and Growth respectively (Arnolds and Boshoff, 2002). Both the theories of Maslow and Alderfer hover in circular motions around three subjects namely how needs are categorized, the relationship of needs and levels, and what happens when a need is not satisfied (Thakkar, Deshmukh and Kanda, 2006).
Having discussed the essentials of motivation theories, we shall look into noting the essentials of leadership. A leader may be defined as a person who creates an inspiring vision of the future, motivates and gives inspiration to the people to get engaged with that vision, effectively manages towards getting that vision delivered, gives intensive coaching and builds a team so that the vision can be achieved effectively. There are certain theories which define leadership. Some of them are being discussed in the following paragraphs.
The Great Man Theory came up in the 1940s. It provided that leaders are not made. Rather they are born. There is an assumption in the theory that the traits that define leadership are intrinsic. This theory was challenged by Herbert Spencer who said that leaders became leaders only because they succumbed to the circumstances and the social condition requirements (Spector, 2015).
Then came up the Trait Theory. The profounder of this theory provided that those individuals who possess the qualities of intelligence, sense of responsibility and creativity are the ones who excel as leaders (Zaccaro, 2007). It focused on analyzing mental, physical and social characteristics in order to attain understanding of what the characteristic are that generalize a leader. This theory also suffers from various shortfalls. It could not explain that when an individual in spite of having the traits of leader failed to be a successful leader, what were the causes behind such a case.
The behavioral theory was a reaction to the trait theory of leadership. It provided that the behavior of the leaders is somewhat different from the mental and physical traits that imbibe them (Shamsi, 2014). It is further divided into two categories namely the managerial grid model and the role theory.
The era of 1970s saw the transactional leadership theories. It is characterized by a transaction or exchange of ideas that are made by a leader and his followers. The theory rests on a positive and mutually beneficial relationship (Antonakis and House, 2014). The theory states that humans in general seek to maximize pleasurable experiences and they always thrive hard to remove or diminish those experiences that have certain amount of dis-pleasure with them. Hence, the theory provides that positive goals thrive better leaders.
Another similar theory is that of Transformational Leadership. It states that leadership is nothing but a process by which a person interacts with others and is able to create a strong foundation that generally gives rise to a percentage of trust which ultimately results in an increase of motivation not only in the leaders but also in the followers (Carmeli, Atwater and Levi, 2010). Various theories have followed this. Some of them are Kouzes and Posner’s Leadership Participation Inventory, Burns Transformational Leadership Theory etc.
Before entering into linking the extent to which motivation can be used as a leadership tool, we shall try to make a note of the 21 irrefutable laws of leadership as provided by John C Maxwell. The rules finally rest on a single concept which follows that good leaders possess the ability to motivate and deploy a team or taskforce to the benefit of an organization. Some of the laws are being discussed here in the following paragraphs.
The law of the lid: Leadership ability determines a person’s level of effectiveness. Maxwell states that: ‘the lower an individual’s ability to lead, the lower the lid on his potential’. In 1937 Dick and Maurice McDonald opened a small drive-thru restaurant in Pasadena (WISDOM, 1963). With Californians becoming more and more reliant on their cars, drive-thru restaurants were part of the changing culture to accommodate more car drivers. Their enterprise was a success and their business evolved. In 1948 they made changes to their business to stay ahead of changing times. They changed their menus and eliminated glass and plate ware. They also developed the Speedy Service System, which McDonalds are famous for. This system turned the kitchen into an assembly line where each employee’s focus was on speed. Despite the fact that the brothers were extremely wealthy their restaurant chain did not grow until the brothers partnered with a leader, Ray Kroc. Kroc’s vision for the restaurant was to go nationwide. He partnered with the brothers, formed McDonald’s System Inc. and bought the rights to the franchise. He then began to assemble a team and build an organisation to expand McDonald’s nationwide. Leadership ability and vision were what set Kroc aside from the MacDonald brothers. Both the brothers and Kroc had vision but 21,000 restaurants were not built only because of vision. Kroc had to show exceptional leadership abilities to continue motivating a core group of managers, which in turn had to implement his vision and strategies and motivate a workforce to reach the global presence McDonald’s has today. Principals of the expectancy theories formed part of McDonald’s growth. Kroc did not draw a salary for the first eight years with McDonald’s, he borrowed money against his life insurance to cover the salaries of key leaders he wanted on his team and his hard work delivered the expected results. His expectation was that his reward would be related to his performance (Lutz, Lyon and Maxwell, 2000).
The law of Connection: Effective leaders should be able to connect with people through verbal and non-verbal communication. This law of leadership is the foundation of the Hearts and Minds approach which forms an integral part of United States military operations in Afghanistan. The premises of this leadership law are that you cannot ask people’s hands before you have touch their hearts. In terms of motivation this rule requires you to reach people’s emotions in order to spur them into action. Content theories specifically support this notion (Block, 2003). Maslow’s levels of love and esteem, Alderfer’s relatedness and Herzberg’s motivators or growth factors. All three these theories list human connection as motivators.
The Law of E.F.Hutton: When the real leader speaks people listens. E.F Hutton was a financial services company with the motto: ‘When E.F. Hutton speaks, people listen’. Part of the introduction of this paper noted that motivation is only an effective leadership tool if the difference between leadership and management is recognised (Hutton, Clements and Sang, 2007). Maccoby wrote that: ‘Management is a function that must be exercised in any business, whereas leadership is relationship between the leader and the employees that can energize any organisation’.
Motivation and Leadership
Having stated the basics, we shall now link that how motivation can can be used as a leadership tool. The concept is linked to getting someone moving towards doing something. When someone gets motivated towards doing something, or tries to get someone moving so that he does something, they are said to be developing those incentives or conditions which they believe will help them to make a person move towards doing certain thing in a certain direction. One of the most difficult challenges that come before a leader is that he initially has to learn the various motivation techniques which he can use to motivate his employees (Leavitt, 1967). Generally, all motivation comes from within of an individual. Hence, the most common concepts involved in the process are used interchangeably to give description to the similar forces that describe the person. These can be anything like beliefs, personal interest or even at times fear.
Obviously, there are challenges that generally remain associated with working towards achieving goals keeping in mind the intrinsic factors. These challenges can be met with establishing goals which are meaningfully personal, make those goals impossible or providing feedback on performance and finally aligning the set goals with the self esteem of the individual (McCotter, 2008).
Curiosity is yet another factor which generally motivates employees. The concept talks about providing the individual with an environment that arouses curious intents in him. He can impersonate higher skills and reach a more desirable level if he inculcates these curious skills in him. In order to motivate an employee through curiosity, the leader should create an environment which stimulates his interest to learn more.
People also like to have a feel that they are totally under the submittance of their destiny. To keep the workers motivated, the leader should understand the cause and effect relationship that lies between the action which they take in certain circumstance and the result that comes out of the action. This information can be used by the leaders in certain very crisp ways. Some of them are by making the cause and effect relationship that exists very clear after having established a goal and providing a reward for the same, or by making the workers believe from his end that whatever they are working on and the way they are working on is making a huge difference and at the same time, the work is remarkably good and finally, by allowing the individuals to choose from a wide range of options what exactly they wish to learn and how do they intend to learn the same.
Competition, cooperation and recognition are certain other factors which can be used by the leaders to motivate their employees. Competition and likewise attitude is particularly successful because employees find a feeling of satisfaction when they find that they are competing with their fellow employees. When the employees win in any competition, they are likely to show better results with efficiency while if they lose, then the employees get de motivated, thus, the sense of competition necessarily provides that the employees will work harder for results with a positive outcome. Further, cooperating with fellow employees can be very motivating. For example, if a leader himself participates in any task which the employee finds difficult to solve, he definitely gets a feeling of cordiality. This feeling makes him motivated towards doing better work and attains better results. This concept of cooperation is a very precious skill that can be used in various situations in hard times for getting better results. Giving recognition for achievements makes the employees feel at home and if they are recognised, they feel encouraged. But of course, while recognising, the leader should avoid comparison with other employees.
We shall now take the example of a few organisational environments to understand this. EMCO Management built their team by recruiting foreign and home-grown students who were studying for an MBA or post-graduate qualification. The founder argued that any foreign student in the UK must be motivated already to pursue a post-graduate qualification. The approached worked well in recruiting skilled and intrinsically motivated team members but it did present problems. Managing a car park’s security and business needs are not rocket science and the work specifications presented a fair amount of continuous repetitive work that the average post-graduate student will find frustrating. Restriction on student visas allows only for a certain amount of hours to be worked by foreign students and academic needs placed a further restriction on the shift schedule. The restrictions imposed on the shift schedule caused communication problems with information not carried over in the correct way. Self-esteem and self-worth issues developed with employees being tired due to academic pressure, working 12-hour shifts, financial pressure and mistreatment by the general public.
Claassen realised that despite the inherent motivation that most of his team possessed he still needed to motivated them. He set out by following Mark David’s Motivation Secrets. He shared his vision for the company with the team and pointed out that each member was recruited with a specific skill set in mind. He spoke to the team in their language, asking them about their personnel goals and how the company could help them to achieve it. He taught the employees how to fish. According to David ‘the best managers develop their employees into self-sufficient, high-achieving professionals, by taking them to their next level of potential and by teaching them new skill sets.’ Claassen made a point of identifying new skills set, explained in clear terms what he expected and gave clear directions while setting benchmarks for progress. The goal of EMCO Management was to use motivation as a leadership tool to increase productivity and job satisfaction. Claassen did not just use Mark David’s Motivation Secrets he also implemented aspects of motivation theories.
Both EMCO Management and Forever Living applied motivation as part of their leadership strategy but it is important to note that in implementing motivational theories in practice there is a clear difference between leaders motivating employees within an organisation and management implementing motivational strategies according to a devised action plan. In conclusion, the implementation of content theories of motivation and process theories of motivation as a leadership tool will benefit any organisation. If the implementation of motivational theories are combined by leadership with other tools such as the rules that govern effective leadership motivation can be considered a very effective method as proven by the growth of McDonald’s, the success of Darwin E Smith and the Hearts and Minds Approach of the American Military.
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