Leadership and Motivation

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Unit 11

Leadership and Motivation
“I start with the premise that the function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers.” Ralph Nader

There are at least two major influences that affect how individuals perform in their environment. These influences include: i) the type of leadership that exists, and ii) personal motivation. While neither is scientific in nature, there is significant research that identifies some theories and general conclusions about why people perform, how they perform, and why some people display different behaviours that puts them in positions of leadership. In addition to addressing leadership and motivation as theories rather than as scientific fact, there are other issues about personal behaviour that must be considered. The most basic concepts are that every person is (a) like every other person; (b) like some other people; and (c) like no other person. A further explanation may help clarify this statement. Every person is like every other person in that we have a need for food, water, shelter, etc. We are like some other people in that we have similar personality traits which cause us to be more dominant and aggressive, while others may be more passive and submissive. Finally, we are unique in that no other person has the same genetic make-up, past experiences, or view of the world. It is these differences that suggest an analysis of leadership and motivation can result in general conclusions about behaviour and performance.


Leadership and Motivation

Unit 11

Human behaviour is as much a reflection of the differences between individuals as it is a reflection of their similarities. These individual differences are caused by a number of influences and characteristics. For example, personality traits focus on individual differences that make each person a unique human being. Our biological make-up concentrates on how we function as a result of our evolution and human inheritance. Our behaviour is largely influenced by the system of rewards and punishments that are present in our environment. Our cognitive approach focuses on how our thinking and memory affects our behaviour. The fact that we are here at this time with immediate influences, and the ability to express a free will, may present the greatest influence of all. Any theories about leadership and motivation can be contradicted since these theories have many exceptions. It is important that these theories are considered general statements that have been confirmed through observational studies and are applicable only to the extent that they reflect and are influenced by individual behaviour. We might ask: “Why should we even pursue these topics if there are so many inconsistencies, exceptions, and variables that affect conclusions?”. If we are searching for scientific evidence that is universally applicable, we may be wasting our time, but if our goal is to better understand human behaviour and its impacts on personal performance, the insights gained from such theories and studies are invaluable. Systems formerly made up of rules, regulations, and procedures are being replaced by requirements for flexibility and customer service resulting in personal initiative, empowerment, and greater levels of individual decision-making. To achieve this, it is important to better understand human behaviour and some of the things that impact our actions and reactions.

Motivation can be defined as “the extent to which persistent effort is directed toward a goal” (Campbell, Dunnette, Lawler &Weick). Effort: The first aspect of motivation refers to the amount of effort being applied to the job. This effort must be defined in relation to its appropriateness to the objectives being pursued. One may, for example, apply tremendous effort to inappropriate tasks that do not contribute to the achievement of the stated goals. The second characteristic relates to the willingness of the individual to stay with a task...
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