Conceptual Framework Of Leadership And Employee Motivation Management Essay

Synopsis: This term paper is aimed at identifying what the leaders should do- what style/approach should he/she use in order to motivate his/her followers at work. Through a blend of the conceptual frameworks of leadership and motivation and various research articles, the paper aims to impart knowledge on the present leadership practise in Nepalese organizations and how it can be improved.

Conceptual Framework:

Leadership, as a process, is both an art and science of motivating people- followers, co-workers- by influencing and empowering them. It is the ability to make a change or a difference by creating a goal, bringing in people together, raising their commitment through proper vision, conviction, influence, enthusiasm and empowerment. Kotler (1996) has defined leadership as “the driving force behind any successful change process is leadership, leadership, and still more leadership.” Leadership occurs at different levels – intra-individual process, dyadic process, group process, and organisational process. It can be best conceptualized mainly through a proper understanding of The leader focused theories (intra-individual process), The leader follower focused theories (dyadic and group processes) and The leader follower context focused theories (organizational process).

There are various styles and approaches to leadership that not only explain the characteristics of an effective leader but also highlight the context and the impacts that different leadership styles bestow on the followers as. Leaders can be charismatic, transactional and/or transformational. His or her style has however needs to be contingent- based on the environmental situation- in order to be more effective.


Motivation is a psychological process that begins with a need that transforms into a goal director behavior. The motives can be primary, secondary or general that are derived from intrinsic and extrinsic sources. Maslow and Herzberg have been the pioneers in providing a conceptual framework of motivation. However, the concept is till evolving with concepts like ERG, expectancy and path goal-theories.

Work motivation can be defined as an employee’s willingness to exert a higher level of efforts, energy and enthusiasm towards the fulfilment of individual goals resulting in committed and inspired work behaviour. It is a critical determinant of job performance and explains why people behave as they do. Motivation is the power to get stuff done. When the employees are highly motivated, leaders can achieve high performance and results consistently. This is mainly because followers/employees show the energy, enthusiasm and determination to succeed; they depict the willingness to accept responsibility and adjust to necessary changes. On the contrary, if any leader fail to motivate his/her employees/follower signs of indifference to work, high absenteeism, disputes and grievances, lack of cooperation in dealing with problems or difficulties and unjustified resistance to change are seen.

Analysis and discussion

Peter Drucker has said that leadership is that quality of examining work to ensure that effort is not placed where there are no results. According to this definition, leadership is the skill of establishing priorities and marshalling resources to achieve worthwhile goals. Just as any craftsman employs his tools to complete his work, so are leaders bound to employ human resources to achieve their goals.

Work motivation, a critical factor determining the nature and level of staff performance. Hence it is important for a leader to know how a staff member (follower) can be encouraged to perform better and more. In doing so, it is encouraged to clearly analyze what leaders should do and which style should he/she use.

Edward and Stoner (1992) argue that leadership depends upon the group of people he/she is leading. A leader needs to understand what motivates others (employees) around you. The authors believe that it is much easier to lead and motivate if you understand what people’s undeniable needs are. They have categorized employees’ needs into two basic categories – need for a basic income and necessities and need for growth and challenges.

Further, Donald J. Sager opines that a good understanding of the worker is necessary for an understanding of motivation. It is important to understand his goals in order to motivate him. It is essential to determine what an individual likes or needs in his work if motivation is to occur. He argues that what makes people happiest and motivates them in their job is what they do whereas what makes them unhappiest is the situation in which they do it.

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A leader has to show the path and make sure the goals are SMART- specific, measurable, realistic and time bound. Many people are goal oriented once a leader shows where their efforts should be focused. They respond well to deadlines and planning. A leader has to provide his followers a job with varied tasks and ability to grow they tend to stay more motivated.

Create a congenial work atmosphere. The work atmosphere in general has a lot to do with employee motivation. Typically managers that treat employees in a friendly manner are apt to get more of a positive response. A leader should create a blend of freedom and control. If an individual is not allowed to exercise his creativity and initiative, he will surely be frustrated. This applies to everyone, not just the high achiever. While not everyone elects to exercise that right all the time, managers should not get into the habit of directing personnel in certain functions, or in ways that will kill initiative. Control is also required to keep his/her team in track. Leaders can neither run their organization by fear nor fear to run it; rather, they must walk the line between these extremes.

As mentioned by Sager, In order to motivate someone, a leader has to know two things- Is the individual satisfied with the hygiene factors offered by the job, i.e., salary, fringe benefits, security and status, and interpersonal relationships? Second, will the individual be challenged by the job? A leader has to provide rewards/ benefits to his followers which can be extrinsic and intrinsic factors. The extrinsic- job related- include pay checks, bonuses, etc. However, Asbjornson and Benner argue that forms of extrinsic motivation often fail to solicit employees’ best efforts over time. The intrinsic factors have a bigger role to play. When we operate strictly from a mind-set of soliciting performance through the awarding of pleasure or the withholding of pain, we fail to consider what researchers refer to as an individual’s intrinsic motivators: the desire to engage in an activity because it is enjoyable, meaningful, and/ or personally satisfying. Common intrinsic motivators include a sense of belonging, feeling that one is making a significant contribution toward a worthy goal, and wanting to make a “difference.” It is these motivators, the research suggests, that lead to sustained high performance.

Individuals in organizations bring intrinsic motivation to their work. Rather than trying to manufacture motivation, a leader has to inspire exceptional work by calling upon others’ innate desire to make a difference. Further, as opined by Asbjornson and Benner, a header has to recognize and tap into the talent and experience of their respective colleagues. He/she has to engage in what we call “intentional listening”rather than making assumptions or jumping to conclusions. Additionally, a leader has to focus on asking the right questions and coaxing meaningful answers rather than dictating preformed solutions and in doing so balance action and reflection, recognizing that neither is sufficient to solve problems alone. Perhaps most importantly, a leader has to share a key objective: to inspire his/her audience (employee). It is only then the employees are motivated.

A leader has to be circumspect. McGregor’s contribution to the study of motivation also underlines the importance of flexibility: application of theory X or Y management techniques should depend on the individual being supervised and the circumstances. Further more a leader should make sure that he/she does not require things from others that he/she would not want required of him/her-self. To understand employees, a leader has to be a good example for others to follow. He/she must attempt to look at the employees’ work in the same way they do.

Finally, leadership should not be based on lies, trickery, or manipulation. When leading other individuals it is important they are getting a benefit out of their own actions. It is important to be ethical and considerate of others at all times.

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Leadership Style

The role of leadership has been examined in numerous empirical studies and countless articles, essays, and books. There are many leadership styles that authors have advocated over the past. However, the most prominent ones include – transactional, contingent, charismatic and transformational.

In his leadership model, Kerry Webb has anlaysed four variables- form Transformational, transactional and Laissez Faire leadership styles- which leaders should consider to effectively increase motivation toward extra effort among their staff. He is of the opinion that by implementing the four leadership behaviors of attributed charisma, intellectual stimulation, individual consideration, and contingent reward, leaders can elevate the motivation level and increase the production from members of their staff.

He further argues that leaders need to have a combination of confidence, a willingness to take risks, and the energy and conviction to try something new. Similarly, leaders should engage persons in developing mental pictures of new concepts and encouraging workers to discover the necessary solutions that transform visions into realities. Further, the leadership style should identify the need that persons have for personal recognition and the need to affirm the unique strengths and abilities of each person in an organization. Lastly, contingent reward may be perceived as knowing your workers well enough to identify their strengths and to place persons in positions where they can make positive contributions to the organization and attain rewards and recognition. When people know what they need to do to achieve rewards and they believe they possess the skills and the training to successfully accomplish the requisite tasks, it makes good sense that these persons are more likely to be motivated toward extra effort. Lastly a leader should know his followers well enough to identify their strengths and to place persons in positions where they can make positive contributions to the organization and attain rewards and recognition. When people know what they need to do to achieve rewards and they believe they possess the skills and the training to successfully accomplish the requisite tasks, it makes good sense that these persons are more likely to be motivated toward extra effort.

Leadership and employee motivation- A Nepalese Perspective

Leadership in Nepal is a much discussed and debated issue. However, it is not the organizational leadership that is the centre of attraction. Organizational leadership in Nepal has been restricted to families controlling the business. When it comes to middle or junior level leadership, it has still yet to be egalitarian. As a result, there is a lack of effective leadership in Nepal. Consequently, Lampers and Hickson in 1979 (Afful, 2002, p.4) have outlined that lack of effective leadership rank high among the causes of the affecting problems faced by management in our country.

When we talk about employee motivation, the situation is even dismal. The employees not only lack adequate pay checks and benefits, they lack freedom and opportunity to grow as well. Bajracharya (1978) showed that Nepalese corporations have largely been failed in motivating employees. A study conducted by Pradhan (1999) on the organizational climate in the public and private enterprises in Nepal revealed that the standard for performance is higher and personal loyalty is stronger in the private organizations than in the public ones. Similarly, employees in private sectors have more fear of losing their jobs. The study further revealed that supervisors in private sectors desire freedom at work. In Nepal, the most common motivational technique has probably been the use of threat. Frederick Herzberg calls this KITA (kick in the “pants”), or negative physical means. Whether verbal or physical KITA is used, the result is the same: either the employee performs a specified task, or he is threatened with loss of his job. KITA is movement, not motivation. Even the organization’s elaborate reward system is simply positive KITA. Better salaries, fringe benefits, better communications and all the other various human relations trappings are like dog biscuits tossed out by managers to any employee performing the desired task.

Another study conducted by Suwal (1998) showed that a majority (59 percent) of the Nepalese public enterprises’ CEOs is introverted and another overwhelming majority (81 percent) of CEOs prefers doing things over and over again without doing much way to flexibility and creativity. In his study Suwal further found no significant difference. According to Suwal (1998) highly structured relationship in Nepalese organizations tends to be authoritarian and paternalistic than supportive.

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In his research article, “Leadership Effectiveness in Nepalese Service Organizations”, it is shown that there is no significant difference found between managers working in high performing and low performing organizations in the vision scale. This indicated that other factors than the visions are responsible for the performance of these organizations. Such a finding is in high contradiction to the leadership styles that has been discussed in previous section. Moderate level of relation between performance and empowerment within the organizations was found, indicating that the high performing organizations have higher empowerment and low performing organizations have lower empowerment. The Nepalese leaders (managers), regardless of high performing or low performing organizations, do not understand well the benefits of having good interpersonal relationship with employees. Lastly, it was found out that managers with high score in empowerment and communication scale also showed high score locus of control i.e. they have internal locus of control. It shows that the role of leadership has not been important, if not acknowledged by the business empire, which obviously has reinforced our conviction of low employee motivation in Nepal.

Conclusion and Recommendations – Nepalese Perspective

The concept of leadership and employee motivation has lacked attention from business houses in Nepal. Nepalese organizations suffer from restrictive policies or a restrictive administration, poor supervision, poor interpersonal relationships, poor working conditions, poor salary and low status and lack of security, which as explained by Sager is a hinderance to employee motivation. From the articles discussed above it is felt that Nepalese organizations should use modern concepts in management and apply written form of vision statements to communicate a clear guidance for the employees. The role of leadership should be enlarged and it should accommodate non-family position holders as well. The leaders should ensure the basic rights of their followers by providing extrinsic rewards. Money is a big motivating factor in Nepal. Hence, salary increments, bonuses, stock sharing options among others should be provided. That is not the only solution. The leaders/mangers should provide intrinsic rewards- like challenging work, recognition etc. to their employees. The leaders are recommended to empower their employees for better results. They should focus on building harmonious relationship with employees as well as paying attention to the task. The sense of lack of job security should be eliminated and the KITA tradition should be abandoned. Most importantly, leaders should take their followers’ perspective in setting goals and carrying out jobs. Not only this will increase their morale, reduce fear, but also impart a sense of belongingness to their organization. Rather than a uniform leadership style, a leader must adjust his leadership approach according to the character and motivation of the individuals on his administrative staff. Leaders should allow people to participate in decisions affecting them, and let you be influenced by their recommendations.

It appears evident that people respond with renewed energy and motivation when they are working for leaders who are perceived as caring about others as unique individuals. The old adage that “people do not care what you know until they know that you care” suggests the importance of individual consideration. Hence, Nepalese leaders, in fact all leaders should care for their employees, listen with intention rather than hear with filters. Instead of dictating the right answers, the leaders should facilitate solutions with the right questions and balance action with reflection. They should recognize and acknowledge the talents of their followers. Finally leaders have to take to heart what John Quincy Adams meant when he wrote: “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader.”

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