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Managers are people who do things right, while leaders are people who do the right thing. - Warren Benniss, Ph.D. "On Becoming a Leader"


Leadership and motivation

As a leader, you need to interact with followers, peers, seniors, and other people whose support you need to accomplish your objectives. To gain their support, you must be able to understand and motivate them. To understand and motivate people, you must know human nature. Human nature is the common qualities of all human beings. People behave according to certain principles of human nature. These principles govern our behaviour.

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

Human needs are an important part of human nature. Values, beliefs, and customs differ from country to country and group to group, but all people have similar needs. As a leader you must understand these needs because they are powerful motivators.

Abraham Maslow felt that the basic human needs were arranged in a hierarchical order. He based his theory on healthy, creative people who used all their talents, potential, and capabilities. At the time, this differed from most psychology research studies which were based on the observation of disturbed people. There are two major groups of human needs: basic needs and meta needs.

Basic needs are physiological, such as food, water, and sleep; and psychological, such as affection, security, and self esteem. These basic needs are also called deficiency needs because if they are not met by an individual, then that person will strive to make up the deficiency.

The higher needs are called meta needs or growth needs. These include justice, goodness, beauty, order, unity, etc. Basic needs take priority over these growth needs. People who lack food or water cannot attend to justice or beauty.

These needs are listed below in hierarchical order. The needs on the bottom of the list (1 to 4) must be met before the needs above it can be met. The top four needs (5 to 8), can be pursued in any order depending on a person's wants or circumstance, as long as all the other needs (1 to 4) have all been met.

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

8. Self-transcendence - a transegoic level that emphasises visionary intuition, altruism, and unity consciousness.

7. Self-actualisation know exactly who you are, where you are going, and what you want to accomplish. A state of well-being.

6. Aesthetic - at peace, more curious about inner workings of all.

5. Cognitive - learning for learning alone, contribute knowledge.

4. Esteem - feeling of moving up in world, recognition, few doubts about self.

3. Belongingness and love - belong to a group, close friends to confine with.

2. Safety - feel free from immediate danger.

1. Physiological - food, water, shelter, sex.

Maslow proposed that people want and are forever striving to meet various goals. Because the lower level needs are more immediate and urgent, if they are nor satisfied, they come into play as the source and direction of a person's goal.

A need higher in the hierarchy will become a motive of behaviour as long as the needs below it have been satisfied. Unsatisfied lower needs will dominate over unsatisfied higher needs and must first be satisfied before the person can climb up the hierarchy.

Knowing where a person is located on this scale aids in determining an effective motivator. For example, motivating a middle-class person (who is in range 4 of the hierarchy) with a certificate will have a far greater impact than using the same motivator to motivate a minimum wage person from the ghettos who is struggling to meet needs 1 and 2.

It should be noted that almost no one stays in one particular hierarchy for an extended period. We constantly strive to move up it, while at the same time forces outside our control try to push us down it. Those on top get pushed down for short time periods, i.e., death of loved-one or an idea that does not work. Those on the bottom get pushed up, i.e., come across a small prize or receive a well paying job. Our goal as leaders, is to help our people obtain the skills and knowledge that will push them up the hierarchy permanently. People who have their basic needs met become much better workers. There are able to concentrate on fulfilling the visions put forth to them, instead of consistently worrying about how to make ends meet.

Herzberg's Hygiene and Motivational Factors

Herzberg developed a list of factors which are closely based on Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, except it more closely related to work:

Herzberg's hygiene & motivational factors

Hygiene or Dissatisfiers:

1. Working conditions

2. Policies and administrative practices

3. Salary and Benefits

4. Supervision

5. Status

6. Job security

7. Fellow workers

8. Personal life

Motivators or Satisfiers:

1. Recognition

2. Achievement

3. Advancement

4. Growth

5. Responsibility

6. Job challenge

Hygiene factors must be present in the job before motivators can be used to stimulate that person. That is, you cannot use Motivators until all the Hygiene factors are met. Herzberg's needs are specifically job related and reflect some of the distinct things that people want from their work as opposed to Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs which reflect all the needs in a persons life.

Building on this model, Herzberg coined the term "job enrichment" to describe the process of redesigning work in order to build in Motivators.

Theory X and Theory Y

Douglas McGreagor developed a philosophical view of humankind with his Theory X and Theory Y. These are two opposing perceptions about how people view human behaviour at work and organisational life.

Theory X

With Theory X assumptions, management's role is to coerce and control employees.

Theory Y

With Theory Y assumptions, management's role is to develop the potential in employees and help them to release that potential towards common goals.

Theory X is the view that traditional management has taken towards the workforce. Many organisations are now taking the enlightened view of theory Y. A boss can be viewed as taking the theory X approach, while a leader takes the theory Y approach.

Notice that Maslow, Herzberg, and McGreagor's theories all tie together:


The X, Y and Z theories of Management


A person's motivation is a combination of her desire and energy directed at achieving a goal. Influencing someone's motivation means getting them to want to do what you know must be done. A person's motivation depends on two things:

People can be motivated by beliefs, values, interests, fear, worthy causes, and other such forces. Some of these forces are internal, such as needs, interests, and beliefs. Others are external, such as danger, the environment, or pressure from a loved one. There is no simple formula for motivation -- you must keep an open viewpoint on human nature. There is a complex array of forces steering the direction of each person and these forces cannot always be seen or studied. Also, if the same forces are steering two different people, each on will act differently. Knowing that different people react to different needs will guide your decisions and actions in certain situations.

As a leader you have the power to influence motivation. The following guidelines form the basic view of motivation. They will help guide you in your decision making process.

Counsel people who behave in a way that is counter to the company's goals. All the guidelines before this took the positive approach. But, sometimes this does not always work. You must let people know when they are not performing to acceptable standards. By the same token you must protect them when needed. For example, if someone in your department is always late arriving for work and it is causing disruptions, then you must take action. On the other hand, if you have an extremely good department and once in a while they are a few minutes late, then do the right thing...protect them from the bureaucracy!


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