Motivation and Leadership

After reading this week’s materials and doing a bit more research on my own, something came into light quite quickly; which actually made me think; how could I have missed this common thread.  Each of the leadership theories, styles and concepts we have studied this far all have some common requirements.  Motivation seems to be one of the most prevalent. 

The Goal-Path Theory is about setting goals to motivate your employees and defining and clearing the path for them to be successful.   This sets a clear “motivation”; which in turn, “…suggests that leadership style affects the job satisfaction and performance of employees”(Basu, 2012).

The Situational Leadership “suggests that leadership depends on situational factors, such as preferred leadership styles and employee motivation”; again there is the employee motivation involvement with the style or theory or concept, (Basu, 2012).

On the flip side motivation is not always a positive attribute or thread to the leadership style.  As in the case of the Transactional Leadership Style.  “The problem with transactional leaders is expectations. If the only motivation to follow is in order to get something, what happens during lean times when resources are stretched thin” leaving no room to give (Germano, 2010).

So while motivation is important to all leadership styles, theories and concepts; it is just as important to take into account how that style affects the motivation of the employee and how it is to be applied to make the most impact in the most positive way.

Works Cited

Basu, C. (2012). Difference Between Situational Leadership & Path Leadership Theories. Retrieved October 4, 2012, from Houston Chronicle, Demand Media:

Michael A. Germano, J. M. (2010, June). Leadership Style and Organizational Impact. Retrieved October 4, 2012, from Library Worklife: ALA-APA:

1 comment


    I enjoyed reading your blog on motivation as a prevalent concept in leadership. I have been a leader in my organization for 13 years, but as a younger manager, one of the biggest conundrums that I faced was how to motivate my followers to drive high performance outcomes. As I have gained experience, I have noticed that I continue to have difficulty in motivating some employees and this has always troubled me.
    I, like you, have noticed that several of our leadership examples to date have centered on motivation. For instance, the Skills Approach talks about motivation as an individual attribute, but it related directly to the leader’s motivation, specifically the willingness, dominance and social good that prepare them for personal leadership (Northouse, 2013). The Path-Goal theory more specifically deals with how leaders can motivate followers to accomplish specific goals through establishing clear paths to personal goals (Northouse, 2013). However, what about a follower that is more difficult to motivate, how can we help them?
    I found some interesting data that suggests that transactional leadership style may actually have a strong, positive correlation with employee commitment, and thus motivation, unless high turnover within an organization is present (Chaudhry, 2012). Northouse (2013) explained the transactional leadership style as promoting those that are doing well or otherwise incentivizing outcomes by associating positive and meaningful transactions. This would suggest that, unless a follower is constantly in fear for their position, when the potential for transactional growth is present, employees display more motivation within their work place. In a similar study, Ying-Feng (2006) found that a superior’s leadership style was actually unrelated to employee motivation levels. It was suggested that an employee controls their own motivation, if they are motivated internally to be productive and do a good job, a leader can maximize outcomes. However if they are unmotivated by the job or are motivated to do another career, leadership style has little to no impact. Ying-Feng (2006) also found that an employee’s achievement motivation and career strategy adoption have a significant positive correlation with each other. This would suggest that if a manager can tap into a follower’s career goals, and thus adapt to their personal career strategy, they could actually instill internal motivation through the follower.
    Based on this research it would appear that, as leaders, we cannot directly increase motivation, however if we can find a style that allows us to increase meaningfulness of the position and relate this meaningfulness to longer-term career strategies for followers we could indirectly trigger internal motivation in them and thus higher performance. Although this seems like a small difference, it took me a long time to realize that I could not directly control other’s motivation levels if they were not meaningfully engaged, however finding a way to engage them in the outcome can ultimately lead to them motivating themselves to the betterment of the organization.

    Chaudhry, A. & Javed, H. (2012). Impact of Transactional and Laissez Faire Leadership Styles on Motivation. International Journal of Business and Social Science. 3(7).
    Northouse, P. G. (2013). Leadership Theory and Practice (Sixth Edition). Thousand Oaks, CA:SAGE Publications, Inc.
    Yeng-Feng, K. (2006). Influences on Employee Career Strategy Adoption in the Information Service Industry: Superior Leadership Style or Employee Achievement Motivation? International Journal of Management. 23 (1), pp. 176-186.

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