Examining Theories of Motivation and Leadership



Motivation and leadership are the most important areas where organisation and practicing managers look in to understand internal behaviour of organisation. In the current difficult economic situation, each organisation has a million dollar question "How to train & motivate existing employees, and develop leaders". According to Katz & Kahn, 1978 (Richard, Lyman, & Gregory, 1996) had raised the following behavioural requirements for any organisation:

People not only should be interested to join the organisation but also remain with organisation for longer time.

Employees perform their jobs along-with responsibility.

Employees should go beyond their normal routine job role and bring some form of creativity and innovative ideas at work.

Initially Leadership was not taken as an important role in organisations but now days it is the most critical function of modern organisations. According to Ralph Stogdill, 1950 (Andrzej & David, 2007), Leadership has three components:

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As an inter-personal process in which one individual seeks to shape and direct the behaviour of others.

In a social context, in which other members of the group to be influenced are subordinates or followers.

Criteria in terms of goal achievement.


Great Man Theory:

To handle such situation, a person must have certain characteristics as defined in Great Man Theory of Ralf Stogdill who reviewed hundreds of trait studies (1948). (Andrzej & David, 2007)

Strong drive for responsibility

Focus on completing task

Self- confidence

Readiness to absorb interpersonal stress

Ability to influence the behaviour of other

At present, when I am analysing my situation, I found that Mr. X have all these characteristics in his personality. He is a very responsible person and has belief that responsibility can't be given it should be taken. He always keeps an eye on the project deadlines and continuously analysing progress through various team meetings. Mr. X has an ability to influence others via achieving high standards and self discipline which inspires others to follow him. Apart from the above mentioned skills Mr. X had some more skills which made him a good leader like

Communication Skills

It is the most important skill for any leader, you don't need to be a leader to learn it but if you have this skill you would become a good leader. Mr. X had this skill set. His communications build trust and inspire all team members & stakeholders.

Ability to judge other people's quality

Mr. X has this characteristic as a God's gift. He knows his team members very well. He knew that the best quality in each team member and how to utilise in the current business. He always assigned a role/project to a person who can deliver at best. I would like to share one of my experiences as:

Our organisation entered into partnership with another organisation named as EastNets to deliver Anti-Money laundering solutions to our clients in Asia pacific and Oceania origin. Being only 8 months old in Mr. X's team, he had given me this project despite the availability of senior members in team who were working more than 5 years with him. He also maintains the expectation of each team member in such a way that there no disputes arise in team. During my tenure, I had successfully delivered more than four projects of EastNets in Australia and India.

The major drawback of Trait spotting theory is that leaders were selected based on predefined characteristics.

Style Counselling:

To switch attention from selecting leaders on personality traits, Michigan and Ohio studies known as Style Counselling Katz, Maccoby & Morse, 1950 (Andrzej & David, 2007) investigated the management style of leaders at International Harvester Company. The studies identified two dimensions of leaderships as:

Employee-centred behaviour

Job-centred behaviour

I found that Mr. X falls under both categories because he always focussed on relationships and employee needs which helped him build a strong team. This is the main reason that no one had left his team in the past 5 years. Mr. X is always interested in and listens to his team, encourages team to participate in decision-making. He is very friendly and approachable. He made himself available to all team in any situation either you were on client site or in office. Due to this behaviour he builds up trust, respect and rapport with whole team which encouraged the development of communication and relationship in group. Thus, I found him under Employee-centred category.

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He structures tasks, assigns work, make his expectation clear to all team, much emphasis on deadlines which is a part of scientific management system but have a positive intention and motivation. Therefore, I put him under Job-centred category.

Contingency Theory:

According to Robert Tannenbaum & Warren H. Schmidt, each leader must decide the leadership behaviour as per situation because a similar style can't fit in all situations.

Fig 1: The Tannenbaum-Schmidt continuum of leadership behaviour

[Source: (Andrzej & David, 2007) pp. 710]

So a leader should be able to diagnose the context and then select the best behaviour to handle such context. This theory is known as Context Fitting (shown in Fig 1) which led to development of Fiedler's Contingency Theory of Leadership. (Andrzej & David, 2007)

Fiedler's theory is a systematic approach to diagnosing contextual factors. It shows the importance of contextual factors to determine leadership behaviour and its effectiveness. While reading this theory, I realise that Mr. X has a new style of leadership on different situations like sometime he acts as Expert role and sometimes as Doctor-patient role. But in Fiedler's theory, there was no role of other team mates or subordinates, so it was unable to fit to my situation.

Based on Mr. X different leadership style, I feel that he is following the Goleman's Leadership Theory. As per Goleman's there are six different styles of leadership which have an impact on work and performance of team which are shown as:

Fig 2: Goleman's Six Leadership styles

Source: (Andrzej & David, 2007) pp. 715

Mr. X implemented all of the above styles. When I joined his team, he had given a lot of inputs to improve my knowledge, communication skills through his Coaching Style. Mr. X is in this business for more than 10 years; therefore he had achieved and set certain standards and commitment for his team. As I discussed earlier he allows team to participate to design strategies to achieve mile stones and various objectives like how to roll out messages standards implementations etc. Mr. X is an Employee centred person, thus whole team acts as family.

With Goleman's leadership style makes Mr. X as a good leader and inspires others including me to become a manager like him. I found myself lucky to have an opportunity to work with him over two and half years.


Motivation represents a very complex phenomenon that affects, and affected by various factors of work & organisation culture. Initially there was very little interaction between Motivation and Leadership. But the globalization of the world's market, advances in information technologies had changed the earlier perception. Now, we can illustrate the link between these topics (Leadership & Motivation) by their interaction which is affecting almost all organisations with the development in technologies. While technology can only provide a base for superior performance but it is up to the human resources to use its highest level to help organisation to achieve their goals & objectives.

McGregor's Theory 'X' and Theory 'Y'

According to Mr. Douglas McGregor, 1960 (Andrzej & David, 2007), there are two fundamental approaches to managing people as shown below:

Fig 3: McGregor's Theory 'X' and Theory 'Y'

Source: (www.vectostudy.com)

As per above diagram, managers who follow Theory 'X' (Authoritarian management style) generally gets poor results and there was no way for people to grow-up. On the other hand, managers who follow Theory 'Y' (Participative management style) to get better performance and results allow people to grow and develop.

While in my organisation, sometimes I found that senior management follows Theory 'X', so there were different issues between middle and senior level management. But in my situation, Mr. X always followed Theory 'Y'. He had created an environment where team can share their ideas; each individual has an opportunity to grow higher in his career. Thus, with only 10 people on board, he was able to achieve all milestones, objectives of organisation and more than 100 satisfied customers.

In my situation, Maslow's Theory is unable to fit because in 21st century people neglect lower needs in pursuit of higher ones.

Equity Theory:

This theory is based on our perceptions of fair treatment. In accordance with Mr. Adams, 1963 (Andrzej & David, 2007), people are motivated in situations which we perceive to be inequitable or unfair like performance appraisal systems. Inequity occurs when people get rewarded either more or less than their expectations.

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This theory was applicable to my organization where based on annual performance we get our salary hike, performance bonus, promotions etc. In the first year of my appraisal, I had not expected any salary hike but I got a performance bonus which was unexpected to me. This incidence motivated me to work harder and grow in my career. In order to avoid salary comparison between employees, my organisation had on pay secrecy policy. The perception of inequity could also create tension between whole team.

Herzberg's Two Factor Theory of Motivation:

Mr. Herzberg, 1966 (Andrzej & David, 2007) had found the factors which influenced job satisfaction and dissatisfactions. These two sets of factors classified as Motivator factors (job satisfaction) and Hygiene factors (job dissatisfaction) are shown as:

Fig 4: Herzberg's Two Factor Motivation Theory

Source: (Andrzej & David, 2007) pp. 258

To avoid tension between team and organisation, a new concept was implemented by HR Manager and Mr. X, where Mr. X had distributed responsibilities within his team like senior member will work on designing and developing service level agreements etc. Mr. X had redesigned the job profile of each team member like few member involved in technical training, for me a new project to manage EastNets products etc. Redesigning of jobs had increased motivation and performance of whole team. The redesigning of jobs is linked with various rewards factors:

Internal Rewards:

When few of my teammates went for certain certifications (for educational training) at Belgium, they came out with flying colours. It gives each individual an internal satisfaction and accomplishment. They got an additional title as "SWIFT Certified Instructor" which motivates them and others also. I would like to highlight that whenever any member from this team went for any kind of certifications, he/she always came victorious.

External Rewards:

My organisation has three awards based on individual performance (on half yearly basis):

Pat on the Back Award: When an individual had achieved almost all the objectives

Customer Centricity Award: An individual had achieved all objectives and contributed significantly towards client satisfaction

Process Champion Award: An individual had achieved all objectives and shown extraordinary contribution towards clients, bring new ideas etc.

During Recognition and Reward (R&R) ceremony, the winner was announced and then their reporting manager explains various reasons to all team on which basis he/she was awarded.

My teammates Robin and Minal had achieved "Pat on the Back Award" 3 and 4 times in a row and Robin was also awarded by "Customer Centricity Award". I had also received "Pat on the Back Award" for July 09-Dec 09 period.

These award ceremonies have encouraged all team mates to work hard and achieve these awards. It had also been implemented as a healthy competition within team, which improves the overall performance of team. While analysing this new concept, I found that it was very much similar to Herzberg's Two Factor theory of motivation.

One interesting fact to Herzberg's theory that salary (pay) is not appeared under Motivator factors and I feel it is correct. Paying people a high salary will not motivate people to work but when people get paid with less then they get dissatisfied.

Due to limitation of various other projects, there was a less opportunity to grow higher in my organisation. There was no training conducted for any member during my tenure. Due to our job profile we had to work for late hours but there were no policy to compensate it, thus no one willing to work after office hours.

The interpersonal relations with senior management could play a major role towards dissatisfaction to employees. Due to these hygiene factors, employees quit from organisation. Some organizations feel that Money is the only motivator. But it would be only for a very short term, therefore organizations and senior management must understand that apart from money there are other factors which motivate people.

Summary and Recommendations

After studying the module Organisational Behaviour, I found that my previous organisation has a mixed work culture where there were some good processes and methods to develop leaders and motivate employees but mostly used by middle level management not from senior management. I feel that Xchanging is hiring senior management based on Trait spotting methods not on their management style. In order to develop leaders and motivate employees in my previous organisation, my recommendation would be as:

There should be definite path of growth for each employee through regular training programs.

Introduce a new way of appraisal system where employee had an opportunity to set his/her goals for the specified periods.

HR should look to improve the interpersonal relationship between middle level and senior level management through conflict management.

Improve the Hygiene factors as defined by Herzberg, 1966 (Andrzej & David, 2007) which will lead to cut down the dissatisfaction.

Peaks and Troughs in the business: Either in terms of load factor of employees, or revenues from the business etc., it is important to foresee the peaks and (re)distribute (as much possible) in the trough areas for uniform or more manageable business with optimal utilization of the resources.

Surplus and deficit: There could be some of the business units which do not give as much revenue but are good still from business continuation of business (from the long-term focus perspective), which the manager should account for and take a holistic stand. Troughs or deficit areas, being lean times should be used for training and other supporting activities so as to be ready for the peaks or surplus times.

Manage the risk and cover the risk on regular basis: This is the key area at every level of management (when each individual is considered as manager, this important responsibility gets spread across a wide section of people, which itself reduces the risk of business).

Believe in persons (to that extent he should not police): In my experience, trust and watch are two key points to be used very-very discreetly and with lot of discretion. The more appropriate you are at it, the happier but less risky business groups you can create. One should keep checks and question where needed in the interest of business.

Transparency and Confidentiality: This is another key area which at times can be confusing. Being transparent makes people believe you but at all times maintaining sufficient business confidentiality is vital to the business stability. Only if the lower layers of mutual trust are well-laid this can be best handled.

Another key thing, I feel is that to ensure that each individual within his/her team is best performed within the extendable limits of their own self, without in direct strict comparison with others. Comparison should be used to set higher standards and not to belittle others.