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Leadership Overview
Motivation: Sources

Contact information:

Dr. Richard W. Scholl
36 Upper College Road
Kingston, RI 02881

p. 401.874.4347
f. 401.874.2954

Effective leadership is viewed by most people as fundmental to the success of any organization. However, when you ask, "Why aren't our employees motivated to ______ (insert behavior)", the answer is usually "lack of incentives. While incentives can play a role in motivation, when employers become disenchanted with incentives or pay-for-perfroamcne systemsor the costs of these systems becomes too high, they start to investigate non-financial motivational strategies. Whether a company has the resources to invest in pay-based motivation or not, I think leadership behavior is most often the key to understanding employee motivation. Among the many reasons that I beleive this is the mere fact that most employees deal with thier leaders on a daily basis, while the potential rewards of a pay systems are ususally uncertain and long-term in nature.

Leaders, through their behavior can tap into a five sources of motivation, while pay-based motivation systems tap into only instrucmental and self-based external sources at best. In the following sections I will discuss the way that leaders can tap into these motivational sources through various leadership styles

Forms of Task-Based Leadership

  As most of you have discovered by now, leadership is a complicated and expansive subject.  There are literally thousands of books written on leadership describing rules, laws, and principles; each giving advice to aspiring and experienced managers on how to improve something called "leadership."  Most scholars agree that there is no holy grail or single set of principles or behaviors of leadership, but rather believe that the most effective leadership style in a given situation is a function of the task, the organization's culture, the leader's subordinates, and attributes of the leader.

Leadership and management are so intertwined and interrelated that it is difficult to separate the two concepts in practice.  However, I would like to try.  Here is a working definition (for the purposes of this set of notes) of the two concepts:
Management involves four functions with the respect to the organization or group (henceforth referred to as group or team) being managed:
  1. Decision Making (adaptation)- This includes creating a vision (and deciding among competing visions), establishing group goals, developing and deciding among competing strategies, operational planning and resource allocation.  While these decisions may be made autocratically by the manager, made participatively with the group, or delegated to the group or group members, the manager is ultimately responsible for decisions.
  2. Goal Attainment-  This function involves directing the behavior of group members toward group goals.  Two important activities comprise this function:
    1. Coaching/Development- Developing the skills and competencies of the members of the group.
    2. Influence- Motivating extra role behavior of group members; directing behavior of group members; eliciting behaviors consistent with group's mission and strategy; eliciting behavior outside the preference zone of the group members.
  3. Integration- Insuring adequate coordination of the efforts of group members
  4. Group Maintenance- Maintaining cohesive and morale.  This is often referred to as the Socio-emotional function of management.
  5. Management effectiveness is measured in terms of how effectively the group accomplishes its goals.  It involves the interaction and successful implementation of all four functions
Leadership is most often viewed as the INFLUENCE function of Management
Leadership effectiveness is measured in terms of how successful the leader is in motivating behavior despite resistance (Motivating behavior in the Influence Zone).  Did the leader influence the behavior of subordinates?
Many of the books you have read, provide excellent models and sets of principles and/or laws (e.g., 21 Irrefutable Laws), but stop short of discussing specific leader behaviors.  In terms of the transtheoretical model, they move one from precontemplation to contemplation, but provide little assistance in the preparation stage of change.  The following abbreviated "cookbook" is intended to provide you with a snapshot answer to:
  1. How does a leader motivate extra role behavior (ERB) in members of his or her team?  
  2. What motivational approaches are available?
  3. What does a leader actually DO to align mission, inspire, etc.?
  4. What basis of influence can a leader use?
The first assumption made by the following set of notes is that the organization or the leader wishes to use "Leadership" as the inducement system to motivate ERB. Many organizations and leaders rely more heavily on the Reward, Task and Social Inducement Systems to motivate ERB, and relegate the manager to the decision making function alone.  ("My job to to get things done, make decisions, and provide resources.  Employees should find ways to motivate themselves").  The approaches below can all be classified as task leader rather than socio-emotional leadership in that their fundamental purpose is employee motivation rather than employee satisfaction.  Task styles make greater use of conditional reinforcement in an effort to motivate ERB, while socio-emotional styles tend to use non-conditional reinforcement in a effort to increase employee satisfaction, strengthen relationships, and increase membership motivation. Leaders can tap into all five Sources of Motivation
Intrinsic Process Make the availability of enjoyable assignments contingent upon ERB.  More directly, by making a specific task more enjoyable (or eliminating unpleasant aspects), a leader can increase the motivation to perform that task.
Instrumental Make attainment of rewards contingent upon ERB
Self Concept External Make group acceptance, worth and status contingent upon ERB; Make public recognition of skills and competencies contingent upon ERB
Self Concept Internal Make achievement of individual goals and validation of personal standards and competencies contingent upon ERB
Goal Identification Create link between individual ERB and benefit to others

Leadership is often characterized as being either Transactional or Transformational.  In general, Transactional Approaches tap the Instrumental source of motivation, while Transformational Approaches tap the other four sources.  What has come to be known as Transformational Leadership is really three or more leadership approaches.  These are pure approaches and no leader is bound to one approach.  In fact, most successful leaders use a variety of approaches including both transactional and transformational styles in their repertoire.  While the transactional approach has been the staple of supervisors and managers in the business sector (because of the availability of pay as a reward), leaders in not-for-profit and volunteer organizations have long relied on transformational approaches.  However, business leaders are discovering the limitation of using transactional approaches alone, as more and more constraints are being placed upon them with respect to the distribution of extrinsic rewards. 

Transactional Approach
  1. Basis- The basis of the transactional approach is one of exchange, that is, the leader elicits the behavior that he or she desires in exchange for some form of extrinsic reward (often pay).
  2. Conditions for Success
    1. Employee desires increases pay (Valence)
    2. Pay differentials can be large enough to have meaning to employees (Valence)
    3. Leader is able to freely allocate rewards/pay (Instrumentality)
    4. Leader is able and willing to make distinctions in performance levels of employees.  Leader can "relatively" objective assessments of performance (Expectancy)
    5. Employee trust of leader is high (Expectancy)
    6. Performance can be defined and measured in a clear and consistent manner, either in terms of behaviors or outcomes. (Expectancy)
    7. Employees have control of performance measures (Expectancy)
  3. Leader Behaviors
    1. Set clear behavioral or outcome expectations.
      1. If setting expectations in terms of outcomes or goals make sure goals are explicit and contain a measurement & time
      2. Behavioral expectations should indicate clear behaviors (rather than traits) that are expected
    2. Make rewards contingent on meeting these expectations. Be prepared to differentiate among employees on the basis of performance (in terms of above expectations)
    3. Maintain equity among employees
    4. Provide feedback at intervals along the way. Allow for feedback and improvement before formal reward granting evaluations.
    5. Make reward differential large enough to be meaningful
Transformational Approaches

These approaches take two forms.  Transformational approaches attempt to motivate through either the (1) Self Concept of the Individual (Internal or External Self Concept) or (2) the individual's desire to help others or create something greater than oneself (Goal Identification) Individual Positive Reinforcement (Self Concept Validation)

  1. Basis- Individual performs and exhibits extra role behavior in an effort to elicit positive social feedback (praise, approval, recognition, etc.) from the leader which acts to validate his or her social identity (valued skills, competencies)
  2. Conditions for Success
    1. Individual needs acceptance and/or validation of skills and worth- The stronger the self-concept the less individuals require validation.
    2. Individual values leader as a source of validation (social feedback)
      1. Leader is viewed as fair and equitable
      2. High respect for leader
      3. High trust for leader
    3. Work involves and requires the use of skills which are a central part of the individual’s self concept/social identity
  3. Leader Behaviors
    1. Compliment success – Be specific regarding employee attributes you’re reinforcing. Don't just say, "Good job."  Leaders often assume that employees know what they’re doing well and as long as a leader leaves them alone, the employee should assume that the leader is pleased.  This is often not the case.
    2. Concentrate on positive aspects of performance and reinforce those. Continually raise the bar.
    3. At every performance level, one can focus on the gap between that observed performance level and goals (perfection, expectations, etc.) or the gap between that observed performance level and past levels (improvement over past). Focus on reinforcement of improvement, rather than criticize for lack of full success. After complementing success, then with the group or individual, develop plans to improve next cycle (Focus on the 4 "A" grades rather than the 1 "B" grade)
    4. Involve the individual in the diagnosis of performance problems. Self-diagnosis is generally more effective than diagnosis that is thrust upon you. For example, it is better to focus on the performance outcomes than the individual traits and attributes related to performance outcome. For example, which approach is more likely to elicit improvement on the part of the employee?
      1. "How can we improve response time to customer problems?"
      2. "You have been slow in solving customer problems."
      3. "The lack of motivation shows in your slow response to customer problems. You need to improve your attitude."
      4. "You apparently did not have the skills necessary to do this job successfully"
Team Based Approaches (Validation of self concept)
  1. Basis- Individuals are motivated to achieve group or team success because they see team success as a validation of their skills and abilities.  
  2. Conditions for Success
    1. The individual perceives that he or she has impact on good success- Ownership in success. This involves empowerment, allowing individuals to utilize their competencies in achieving success.
    2. Since individual is more interested in validating his or her identity, is more important that he or she gets credit for success than the specific nature of the group mission or goal
    3. Group success is dependent on individual skills that are central to his or her social identity.
    4. Group members trust the leader's intentions and expertise
    5. There is a metric or measure of group success that is available to the individual
  3. Leader Behaviors
    1. Leader develops and provides a metric of group performance
    2. Leader assigns roles to individuals that require the use of valued skills
    3. Leader ensures that individuals see the link between their role and group performance
    4. Leader ensures that group members receive regular feedback regarding group performance. Allow natural consequences of group performance to be known
    5. Leader allows individuals autonomy in developing methods and plans to achieve group success
    6. Leader publicizes group success and publicly attributes success to group members (rather than himself or herself)
Mission or Vision Approaches
  1. Basis- Leader provides a group vision with which group members identify. Generally, this vision is aligned with group member values. Individuals are motivated to exhibit extra role behavior so that the vision is realized.  Group member work harder when they get feedback that plans are not working to benefit others as intended.
  2. Conditions for Success
    1. Individuals take personal satisfaction when group’s mission is satisfied, independent of its reflection on their skills and abilities (Goal Identification as a source of motivation).  They believe that the group serves an important social purpose.
    2. Since the individual is less interested in validating his or her self-concept and more interested in benefiting others, the nature of the mission is of high importance.
    3. Individuals believe that their extra role behavior is necessary to achieving this vision.
    4. When they exhibit extra role behavior, they see that others are benefited (mission achieved). This requires some feedback as to mission accomplishment (benefits to others)
  3. Leader Behaviors
    1. Leader articulates mission/vision in terms of the benefit to other or important social values.  This especially effective when mission involves helping others in need and leader is able to attach emotional marker to this mission.
    2. Leader involves the group in the development of mission
    3. Leader provides continual feedback regarding consequences (benefits to others) of group action.
Value Based Approach
  1. Basis- Individuals (especially those with strong external self-concept needs) behave in ways that are consistent with the social values of their relevant reference group.
  2. Conditions for Success
    1. Cultural values are clear
    2. Individual values acceptance and status given by reference group (culture)
    3. Reference group bases group membership and status on adherence to social values
  3. Leader Behaviors
    1. The key to creating clear and consistent cultural values within an organization for workgroup is symbolic action. Almost everything a leader does is interpreted by group members and given meaning in terms of these values. Individuals are more likely to attribute values to the actions (behavior and decisions) of the leader than to his or her words. (Remember it is not the murderer we are attempting to teach a lesson to when using capital punishment)
    2. Be consistent in decision-making
    3. Take action to defend and support the group or organization
    4. Be aware of your personal behavior and how it is viewed by group members. If you want group members to use certain values in conducting themselves, you better exemplify these values in your behavior ("do as I say and not as I do" really doesn't work)
    5. Values are often communicated by what is rewarded ("put your money where your mouth is" does have meaning)
Personal Influence Approach (Often combined with "Role Modeling Approach")
  1. Basis- Group follow directives (influence attempts of leader) because they trust that the leader is acting in the best interests of the group, and that he or she has the expertise and knowledge necessary to lead the group to success. In extreme cases (charisma), group members see the leader as the only one that can "save" the group from crisis
  2. Conditions for Success
    1. Group feels threatened (company closing, crisis, management going to take away restroom privileges, etc.).
    2. Group members see leader as someone with a vision or plan to "save" the group
    3. Group members have faith in leader's expertise
    4. Group members trust the leader to act in the best interests of the group
  3. Leader Behaviors (These are tough because they are so dependent upon the situation being right)
    1. Timing is everything.  Come forward with your plan at the right time
    2. Present plan in terms of benefit to group members.
    3. Be willing to demonstrate personal sacrifice
Role Modeling Approach (Often combined with "Personal Influence Approach")
  1. Basis- Individuals emulate the behavior of the leader because the leader symbolizes ideals, values, traits, and competencies that the individuals admire. The Individual is searching for a social identity and like the identity of the leader.
  2. Conditions for Success
    1. Leader has traits, values and skills, admired by the employee
    2. Individual is in search of a social identity
    3. The identify of the leader has high status and worth within the reference group
  3. Leader Behaviors
    1. Act public to demonstrate your core values and beliefs.  Be true to your core beliefs. Values are demonstrated and communicated through choice and sacrifice.  When a leader gives up something important for the group, this demonstrates a value
    2. Behave consistently
Building Commitment
  1. Basis- Identification is the basis for commitment. The individual’s identity is tied to the organization (I am who I work for).  Individuals begin to view the  organization's performance as reflection on themselves.  Individuals work to maintain membership and promote organization
  2. Conditions for Success
    1. Individual greatest source of affirmation is the organization.  The individual begins to depend more on the organization in defining social identity and validating worth than on family, friends, and social groups.
      1. Feel needed
      2. Feels sense of worth based on organization role
      3. Sense of competency is reinforced by organizational role
    2. Individual feels secure in organization
    3. Individual identifies with mission of organization.  Individual believes the group performs an important social role and benefits others.
  1. Leader behaviors
  1. Initial entry is important.  From the beginning the employee starts to feel valued and like he or she is an important member of the team
  2. Articulate mission which is consistent with values of members
  3. Develop a sense of worth through empowerment
  4. Positive reinforcement of member’s competencies
Leader Skills

The question of whether or not there is a universal set of "leadership skills" that are useful to all leaders is often raised, especially when developing leadership training programs.  While I generally adhere to contingency approaches to leadership style, I believe this partial (and growing) list of skills is appropriate to most leaders (at least having them cannot hurt)

  1. The ability to facilitate team problem solving
  2. The ability to resolve conflicts in win-win way
  3. The ability to "sell" an idea, program, plan or problem solution
  4. Emotional intelligence skills
    1. Self-Awareness- The ability to understand and control own emotions (The relationship between Triggers or situational stimuli and Emotional Reactions)
      1. Reduce dependency on external validation
      2. The ability to understand and predict one's won "Hot" buttons, that is, triggers to Emotional Reactions
      3. Understand why certain things annoy or please you
    2. Self-Regulation/Self Motivation- The ability to override emotions in own behavior (The relationship between Emotional Reactions and Behavioral Reactions)
      1. The ability to control anger
      2. The ability to motivate self when feeling negative
      3. The ability to make personnel decisions that are not totally overshadowed by feelings
    3. Empathy- Ability to affect a emotional reaction in others (Trigger -> Emotional Reactions)
      1. Understand the source of motivation of others- Empathy
      2. Ability to "read" the self concept of others- What are their needs for validation
    4. Influence- Ability to affect behavioral change in others, contrary to their affect. (Emotional Reaction -> Behavioral Reaction
  5. Self Concept- The ability to give credit to others, self diagnose your own style, and place the good of the group ahead of your own depends on developing a strong self concept, one that is not continually dependent on external validation