Leaders and Motivation

“Do What You Love, The Money Will Follow” is taken from a self-actualisation, motivational book by Sinetar (1987). Sinetar challenged readers to go after what they love to do instead of chasing riches, and by doing that, they will find happiness and wealth will follow. At the end of the day, the motivation for work is to pay our bills and a hope to achieve a comfortable life.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (Maslow, 1943) is the opposite. Maslow said we need to first meet basic and psychological needs before moving up the pyramid and achieve self-actualisation.

Figure 1.1 Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (Cherry , 2021)

In the workplace, most employees would have their basic needs (physiological and safety) met by securing a job and making ends meet. Employees would then fulfil the need to socialise, often within the workplace since most of the waking time are spent with colleagues at work and after work hours with family and friends. The lower part of the pyramid can also be categorised as extrinsic motivation (Maslow, 1970) where employees gain an external gain like rewards in fulfilling the tiers. Building self-esteem, gaining recognition and self-actualisation for employees who know who they are, are intrinsic motivation where motivational factors are self-driven within employees.

Figure 1.2 Intrinsic/extrinsic motivation against Maslow’s pyramid (Hapenciuc & Moroşan, 2010)

Hapenciuc and Morosan (2010) reviewed the findings of “the candle problem” experiments and concluded that simple and direct tasks fared better with extrinsic motivation where rewards were given for complex tasks. Figure 1.2 showed that extrinsic motivation has lesser effect up the pyramid, allowing intrinsic motivation to become more effective as the need for self-actualisation takes place. Applying the concept in a business environment, where complexity increase with globalisation and technology outplacing mundane repetitive tasks, it would be beneficial for companies with employees to be intrinsically motivated.

Figure 1.3 Johari window (Luft & Ingham, 1955)

Reinforcing self-actualisation, Johari window (Luft & Ingham, 1955) helps employees to achieve a higher level of self-awareness. Humans are social creatures, and we learn more about ourselves and one another as we interact with others. Figure 1.3 portrays the different areas of the model and discover areas within the blind spots; others can share about the person to facilitate self-discovery from an outside perspective or disclose areas about oneself to others. This interaction also builds mutual trust and bond amongst teammates, strengthening team bonding.

Figure 1.4 KPMG’s higher purpose initiative posters (Pfau, 2015)

KPMG understood the power of intrinsic motivation (Pfau, 2015) and capitalised it by giving a purpose to their employees to see their role as more than just a salary but provide a sense of purpose. The initiative would not succeed if the management dictated the purpose, instead employees were to share their stories and purpose in their roles. The stories were translated into posters. Initially, participation was rewarded with incentives, but stories were pouring in and soon it became clear that the incentive did not matter. Instead, employees wanted to share their stories and contribute to a purpose.

Figure 1.5 Higher purpose initiative (Pfau, 2015)

The campaign resulted in employees finding a purpose in their jobs, also identifying that KPMG is contributing to a greater good and identification with the company by agreeing that it is a great place to work with higher talent retention rate (Figure 1.5). The results showed the initiative was a success, where employees were intrinsically motivated and jobs had a greater purpose and meaning.

Conclusion

“No more Monday morning blues” found on the back cover of Sinetar’s book alluded to the fact of loving the job and finding a greater purpose or sense of satisfaction. It is no longer just a job, but it carried a greater meaning. Employees look forward to going to work and not dreading every working day.

In the business environments, leaders are often the “driving force” to motivate and set the direction of the company. Several trait-based theories attempt to identify traits of successful leaders. Carlyle and Galton (1988), Stogdill (1948) and Kouzes and Posner (1987) have written different versions of trait-based leadership, but their main argument is: “are leaders borned?” and the traits associated to a successful leader. However, there has not been any agreement in common traits that a successful leader should possess. If they are not able to agree, how would one be able to apply a common strategy? As the world changes, leaders would need to adapt with different leadership styles.

A good leader motivates while staying present in the organisation. A great leader can motivate long after leaving the organisation, by building an intrinsically motivated team.

References

Cherry , K., 2021. The 5 Levels of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. [Online]
Available at: https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-maslows-hierarchy-of-needs-4136760
[Accessed 17 April 2021].

Galton, F., 1988. Hereditary Genius. Bristol, U.K.: Thoemmes Press.

Hapenciuc, C. V. & Moroşan, A. A., 2010. EMPLOYEE MOTIVATION IN THE COMPANY. STUDY CASE. The Annals of The”Ştefan cel Mare” University of Suceava, Volume 10, pp. 129-136.

Kouzes, J. M. & Posner, B. Z., 1987. The Leadership Challenge. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Luft, J. & Ingham, H., 1955. The Johari window, a graphic model of interpersonal awareness. Los Angeles: Proceedings of the Western Training Laboratory in Group Development.

Maslow, A., 1970. Motivation and Personality. New York: Harper & Row.

Maslow, A. H., 1943. A theory of human motivation. Psychological Review, 50(4), p. 370–396.

Pfau, B. N., 2015. How an Accounting Firm Convinced Its Employees They Could Change the World. [Online]
Available at: https://hbr.org/2015/10/how-an-accounting-firm-convinced-its-employees-they-could-change-the-world
[Accessed 18 April 2021].

Sinetar, M., 1987. Do What You Love, The Money Will Follow. s.l.:DTP.

Stogdill, R. M., 1948. Personal Factors Associated With Leadership: A Survey Of The Literature. The Journal of Psychology, 25(1), pp. 35-71.

5 comments / Add your comment below

  1. I am totally blown off by your explanation and supported by graphical descriptions on the theories. I particularly like the brushing off Monday blues as I love going to work. Hence resonate very well with me. I knew a few managers in my lifetime who were Great Leaders that left an impact on me even after they left the organisation. Thus you have many valid and justifiable points that really have moved me.
    Thank you

  2. This is truly above and beyond!

    Your insight on the Johari window and the academic research on communicating higher purpose raises engagement and morale makes me accept that leadership and motivation are intrinsically shared responsibilities of people who care about the causes set forth.

    Looking forward to reading more of your blog posts!

  3. Never work a day in your life if you do something you love! Motivation differs from person to person but leaders help by setting the tone in the organisation. A leader can make it break an organisation! Thanks for sharing!

  4. Love the explanation on Johari window and the way you tied it into KPMG’s campaign! Because of you, I think I’ll go get the book by Sinetar. Thanks for sharing, look forward to your next blogs!

  5. Great insights! I’m a firm believer of do what you love and never work a day in your life. A leader is one who really helps the direction of the organisation that enables the employees to enjoy what they are doing! Thanks for sharing. 🙂

Leave a Reply to Derek Tan Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *