The Role of Leadership in Employee Motivation

Can leaders really motivate employees? Yes, and they should do. Extensive research has been carried out over the years to evaluate the impact of charismatic, transformational and inspiring leaders on employee motivation. Such research has established that a charismatic and transformational leadership approach addresses the emotional needs and responses of employees in a more effective way. On the contrary, a plainly transactional approach tends to have little or no motivational impact towards the employees. One of the positive impacts on employees resulting from charismatic leadership is the healthy relationship that arises between the employees and their leaders. Some of the indicators of a positive relationship are high levels of trust, commitment to the organization, job satisfaction and job performance both at the individual level and organization levels (Bono & Judge, 2003).

According to Jeroen and Deanne (2007), most of the studies on behavioral leadership focus on the performance outcomes. However, some studies indicate that transformational leadership also encourages employee creativity and innovativeness which is an excellent form of motivation. Such leaders achieve this innovative employee motivation by encouraging the employees to view challenges in new and diverse ways. This helps them enhance their creativity and tend to realize their full potential. Leaders make this kind of impact by adopting a participative form of leadership. Participative leadership is the kind of leadership in which the employees can influence the leader’s decisions by virtue of the procedures employed in the decision-making process. These procedures used by participative leaders include consulting, delegation and making joint decisions together with the followers. Studies show that this form of leadership encourages employees to be innovative since they get to participate in decision making as opposed to waiting for decisions to trickle down from the leaders or management.

The employees enjoy operational autonomy and get to feel that their opinions in decision making usually matter and are highly appreciated.

In a case study conducted by Jeroen and Deanne (2007), most leaders interviewed claimed to use extensive delegation as their leadership style. They claimed that this delegation to subordinates provided them with autonomy that ensured a high-quality output in their work. Delegation encouraged autonomy and innovation which turned out to be a talent retention environment. Most leaders interviewed also suggested that serving as a role model acted as a major determinant in creating a talent enhancing environment. They stated that most employees showed a tendency to behave the same way they were behaving. When the leaders were always in pursuit of innovating better ways to improve work results, the employees tended to do the same.

Another set of leaders interviewed claimed that it is essential that employees like the job that they do. In order to ensure that employees like their job, the leaders stated that it was important to monitor the employees’ skills set and match them with the assignments tasked to them. Employees who liked what their work, therefore, delivered high quality and this helped them nurture their talent to greater levels.  Frischer (1993) also discovered that when managers delegated their authority to junior employees, it gave them a sense of autonomy, and they were highly motivated to be creative enhancing talent growth.

In conclusion, including employees in the decision-making process, delegating authority and encouraging autonomy to employees, matching their skills set with their assignments, has proven to be a great source for employee motivation. Maintaining such an environment not only motivates the employees but plays a major role in developing and retaining talent.

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