Friday, February 23, 2024

Leadership: Motivation

Motivate your followers successfully

The term motivation is derived from the Latin verb movere which means “to set in motion”. Motivation is the spark which ignites and influences the course of human action. You achieve your objectives by working through others and with others. No matter how perfect your plans, organization and controls, if you cannot build a team that is eager to do the work, you will not accomplish the results you want.

We know that people act to satisfy their needs. When specific needs are satisfied, they are no longer motivators, however, other needs will usually take their place.

Definition of motivation

We define motivation as the work leaders perform to inspire, encourage, and impel people to take required action. The drive that impels us to act to satisfy our needs are what we call motivation.

Leading people is causing them to take effective action. This element of leadership necessitates having the knack of getting other people to follow you and to do willingly the things that you want them to do. Motivational leadership may therefore be described as the integrated and dynamic application of the leader’s abilities in an authoritative manner, which will convince, inspire, bind and direct the followers to realize common ideals.

Principles of motivation

Motivation Principle nr 1: Participation needs

Participation is a powerful motivator. It provides recognition, encourages affiliation and inclusion, and is a mark of self-esteem. To develop participation, involve our people in the planning and decision-making that affects their work or their working conditions. Get their advice.

Motivation Principle nr 2: Communication needs

The more people know about a matter, the more interest and concern they will develop. When you make an obvious effort to keep your people informed you are telling them, “I think you are important. I want to be sure you know what is going on”

The people should not only be informed about results achieved, but also about changes and progress.

Motivation Principle nr 3: Recognition needs

People will work hard if they get continuous recognition for their efforts. When you give credit to people who have earned it, you are making clear that you consider them important members of the team. Recognition must be sincere and should not be in the form of fake flattery .The recognition you give is multiplied if you give it in public, especially in the presence of your own boss.

Motivation Principle nr 4: Delegated authority needs

A leader should be prepared to delegate authority to capable people. In this way a person’s post is enhanced, and this serves as a means of personnel development. Delegated authority also means that more people will be allowed to make decisions themselves in connection with their work within set guidelines.

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs

Abraham Maslow bases his theory on the following three assumptions regarding human behavior:

  • There is always something for which someone is striving overtly or covertly; something he would like to have or an ideal he would like to fulfill.

  • Needs which has been fulfilled are no longer such compelling factors as when unfulfilled

  • Needs can be arranged in five columns in hierarchical fashion in order of priority.

1. Physical or survival needs

Our most important need is to survive, to remain alive. To remain alive a man must have food, water, oxygen, shelter (clothing) and rest. So long as needs upon which health depends go unsatisfied, a person shows little interest in the other four types of needs. His thoughts and energies will be directed towards satisfying the survival needs to the exclusion of all other needs.

2. Security and safety needs

Once the human being’s most important physical needs are satisfied to at least a minimum and continuing degree, the next need that becomes dominant is the security and safety needs. His efforts are now aimed at being comfortable, healthy, safe and secure. Security needs include not only the physical safety of the person, but also include economic security – a steady job, life insurance, a savings account, etc.

Man’s resistance to change is often based on the fact that the change in the job means that they can no longer feel comfortable, safe and secure.

3. Social needs

These needs are also known as the belonging and love needs. When the individual is no longer continually hungry and has sufficient and continuing satisfaction of his security and safety needs, then belonging and love needs become most important to him. They are the needs to love and be loved, to belong and be accepted by a small intimate grout – his family and a few close fiends, He needs to receive as well as give affection. He feels the need to be wanted and accepted not only by his family but also by the group of people with whom he works and his other social groups, e.g. his church group, his bowls club, etc. He will often be motivated to work very hard, without any direct monetary reward, to satisfy these social needs.

4. Ego or esteem needs

The individual whose physical needs, security and belonging and love needs are satisfied becomes concerned with esteem needs; that is the need for self-respect and respect from others. This need to have pride, self-respect and self-confidence, to have the respect of others, to be important, to be given status, prestige and recognition by others is one of the forces which motivates most of us today. it is utilized by many leaders and managers in their dealings with people, e.g. the size of one’s carpet, the size of the company car, the job title etc., are all status symbols.

5. Self-realization needs

If the physical, security, belonging and love, and esteem needs are all satisfied, the individual’s most important need becomes self-realization. This need is aimed at self-fulfillment; his desire to become his best self; to realize his capabilities to the fullest. This need is sometimes called the “creative” need. It is the need to express one’s desires to paint, to write, to sing and to provide an outlet for one’s aptitudes and special abilities – e.g. to invent new devices.

This is the need which is perhaps the least used in the work situation. If we can learn to tap every man’s experience, creativeness and special abilities, the job will usually be done far more efficiently and the worker will be a happy, satisfied and well-motivated individual who will give of his best without the boss breathing down his neck all the time.

Application of Maslow’s theory

Many people are happier at work that at home. A satisfying job with a good leader goes such a long way toward making life worth living.

Whereas all of us may complain about our jobs (or our bosses) from time to time, each of us needs the security and will respond favorably to the stability of the work situation.

We can see now that your job provide the first two basic needs:

  • a livelihood that keeps the wolf sway from the door and a sense of safety from the fears of layoff, old age, or accidents.

  • Satisfaction from the other three basic needs – to be social, to be respected, and to do the work we like – is often more the function of a person’s leader than of the job itself.

A good leader can see that a person’s job satisfies the social needs by demonstrating to the rest of the work group the desirability of taking in a new worker.

To satisfy the esteem needs, a good leader will make sure workers know when their work is appreciated.

To satisfy the desire to do worthwhile work, a good leader gives thought to placing employees on jobs for which they have the best aptitude and training.

Frederick Herzberg’s motivation theory

Herzberg says that every human being has two motivational tracks:

The lower level motivational track: the hygiene, maintenance or care factors.

These factors physically maintain the status quo, but they do not motivate. They merely prevent dissatisfaction. If they are not present in the workplace, an employee will be dissatisfied and may look for a job elsewhere that provides these factors. The employee will not work harder just because these factors are given to him or her, it is only a basis on which a leader can build. They are called external motivators.

These might include things like friendly co-workers, good working conditions, paid pension schemes, job security, vacations and housing subsidies. Generally speaking, we see that the company must provide the factors that prevent dissatisfaction. A company can help a leader to establish the right climate for employee job satisfaction.

The higher level motivational track: the motivators, satisfies or intrinsic factors.

People are only motivated by these motivators, which are embodied in the work itself. They will urge the workers towards better achievements. Satisfaction for an employee comes from truly motivating factors such as interesting and challenging work, utilization of one’s capabilities, opportunities to do something meaningful, recognition of achievement, access to information, involvement in decision-making, responsibility for one’s own work and a sense of importance to the organization.

The leader should provide the satisfiers. Few leaders can establish the basic pay rates for the organization, but almost all leaders can motivate. For example, the leader can provide an employee with a specific challenging goal: “Not many people can pack more than 200 cartons an hour. If you can pack 220 today, you’ll be a great asset to this department”.

The conclusion from research findings.

In most modern working environments, the basic needs are met, because we have minimum wage laws, generally good working conditions, ever-increasing benefit packages and legal protection against injustices. Generally speaking there is agreement the psychological needs is the most fertile ground for any motivational effort, and we can add the following as well:

  • Recognition

  • Status

  • Affiliation

  • Esteem

  • Inclusion

  • Pride of accomplishment

  • Control of own work

  • Challenge

  • Opportunity to contribute

  • Forms of power

Every human being has these needs in different proportions, and this complicates the leader’s task. To summarize, the mainspring of motivation is the need to feel important and the need to be recognised as a worthwhile individual.

Mcgregor’s X and Y theory

Although not required for the syllabus, no thesis on motivation would be complete without McGregor. He recognized that managers or leaders can be classified according to their approach towards their employees or rather the way they see them. He decided to call these approaches the X and the Y approach. Leaders are referred to as being an X type or a Y type leader.

The X type approach

  • These type of leaders would look at their employees in the following way.

  • That people from their nature are lazy and negative.

  • That they have no ambition.

  • That they do not like responsibility.

  • That they will resist change.

  • That they must be driven and that only continuous activation would lead to results.

The Y type approach

  • These type of leaders would look at their employees in the following way

  • That people are not inherently lazy.

  • That they want to live themselves out.

  • That they desire to take responsibility.

  • That they are already motivated and can be delegated to.

  • That they have potential for development that must only be cultivated.


From research it has been found that 16% of people want to be treated as being X. A full 68% of people prefer to be treated as Y. A further 16% were even more motivated than the Y, the so-called self-motivated, or Z type. In practice, managers who had a high X attitude had significantly worse performance results than those with a high Y attitude.

Six critical factors of job design that will most likely increase the motivational aspects of work

When these factors are added to the job, it will help to meet organizational needs and thus to promote productive performance in support of departmental or organizational goals. The factors are:

Everyone needs to do a whole job from beginning to end.

An employee needs to start his or her part of the work from scratch and see a definable product after completeness.

Everyone needs regular contact with consumers or clients.

The employee needs the opportunity to have direct and consistent relationships with the customer who uses what he has made. This brings forth a sense of being a person rather than an unknown cog in the machinery.

Everyone needs to apply a variety of skills and to vary his tasks.

The employee needs to relieve the sense of confinement and monotony by employing more than one skill and accomplishing more than one task in getting the job done.

Everyone needs freedom of self-direction.

The employee needs the opportunity to make choices about how the work will be done, to decide for themselves how to divide the work, where and how to start the work, etc. – a feeling of autonomy.

Everyone needs direct feedback from the work itself.

The employee can tell immediately by looking at the finished product or service whether it has been done correctly or incorrectly. Example: A shaft with a screw thread to be cut on a lathe, and by looking at the surface finish, testing the nut on the thread and measuring the diameter if it is between the allowable tolerance. This worker does not have to wait for this leader to get this information.

Everyone needs a chance for self-development.

Sometimes an employee needs to stretch his mind and sharpen his skill to solve a small problem about his work himself, without running to his leader for all the small problems. The satisfaction of finding the answer is more valuable to himself as well as to the company.

The above-mentioned factors enlarge the quality of work life itself, as a result of the nature, interesting and challenging, and type of design of jobs that employees hold. This will influence employee performance and satisfaction as much as or more than the interpersonal motivation provided by leaders.

Skills required of leaders


It is the ability to assemble and present to others a good case for what you think should be done.


This is the ability to exert power over others. This can be inherent to your position, your personality or even your greater knowledge. The most important is having the power to move others by responding to their needs.


Rapport is the art of creating in others the willingness to cooperate. It requires a deep understanding of motivation and the ability to perceive the needs of others.