How Can the Theories and Models in Leadership and Motivation Help a Manager to Do His or Her Job More Effectively?

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How can the theories and models in leadership and motivation help a manager to do his or her job more effectively?

Two powerful tools a manager can use are displaying good leadership skills, and being able to motivate those around them. A highly motivated workforce is vital for an organisation seeking good results.

Leadership and management although being seen as synonymous do differ, not every manager is a leader and vice versa. The emphasis of leadership is on interpersonal behaviour, and is often associated with the willing and enthusiastic behaviour of followers. (Mullins, L. J. (2002), p. 254)

As a leader, you need to interact with your followers, peers, seniors and others, whose support you need in order to accomplish your objectives. To gain their support, you must be able to understand and motivate them.

"Like motivation, the search for the definitive solution to the leadership problem has proved to be another endless quest for the Holy Grail in organisation theory." (Handy, C. B. (1993), p.97)

It is because of the complexity of motivation and leadership, and the fact there is no single answer to what will motivate people to work well, that the different theories are important to the manager.

The major needs based theories a manager must be aware of are:

Maslow's hierarchy of needs model
Aldefer's modified need hierarchy model
Herzberg's two-factor theory
McClelland's achievement motivation theory

Needs based theories of motivation are useful to managers because they provide a general answer to what needs motivate human behaviour. (Hunsaker, P. L. (2005), p.446)

Maslow's hierarchy of needs model
Maslow proposed a five-level hierarchy of needs, from the lowest being physiological needs, through safety needs, love needs, and esteem needs, to the need for self-actualisation at the highest level.

Once the lower need has been satisfied it no longer acts as a motivator, the needs of the next level need to be satisfied. Therefore, according to Maslow, only unsatisfied needs motivate a person. Although a logical conclusion, there could be the belief that being permanently unsatisfied would lead to a continual state of being un-motivated as there would be no incentive to self motivate. Maslow identifies this false impression by suggesting there is a decreasing percentage of satisfaction along levels of the hierarchy, meaning you do not have to be 100% satisfied at one level to progress to another, although at the lower levels you need more satisfaction. (Mullins, L. J. (2002), p. 427-429)

It is important for a leader to be able to identify their followers' needs and how they can effectively satisfy their followers in the work place. It is also worthy to note that an employee's external interests also need to be satisfied to keep a healthy work life balance. A manager/leader should be aware of the individuals' full interests. A downfall of this theory is that as a manager it is difficult to determine the correct way to satisfy an individual's needs. The same ideas and implementations to satisfy one person will not necessarily satisfy everyone else.

Aldefer's modified need hierarchy model
(Alderfer, C. (1969), p. 142 - 175)

Like Maslow, Alderfer offers us a model in which the individual seeks to satisfy needs. Alderfer suggests these needs are more of a range than a hierarchy, in that more than one need may be sought to be satisfied by the individual, at the same time. Individuals may also slide up and down through this range, if satisfaction of one need is frustrated.

Alderfer condenses Maslow's five levels into three:

Existence needs
Relatedness needs
Growth needs

Unlike Maslow's theory, the results of Alderfer's work suggest that lower-level needs do not have to be satisfied before a higher level need emerges as a motivating influence.

It is worth noting for the manager that if one of the needs is blocked then according to Alderfer, you should still be able...
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