Magoosh GRE

To what extent can motivation be used as a leadership tool?

| February 6, 2017

Abstract

Numerous investigations have linked organizational success to effective leadership. The fact that leaders provide guidance as well as monitoring and evaluation of the staff in an organization they provide a link between the organization’s objectives and the needs of the staff. Good leadership should ensure both the organization and the staff are satisfied with the outcome of the processes and operations of the organization. This paper analysed the importance of using motivation and a leadership tool and its application in the military.

Motivation is an important aspect of effective leadership since it not only guarantees performance within an organization but also ensures sustained effectiveness of the staff. The analysis of this factor as a leadership tool was conducted based on literature review of various sources that examine organizational motivation processes and practices that are applicable in military environment. The main theories of motivation identified to influence leadership with respect to military environment were Humanistic Theory of Motivation, Incentive theory, Drive theory, and Cognitive dissonance theory.

Social incentives have been identified in the paper to play an important role in leadership success of a military organisation. This is mainly due to the fact that they develop the intrinsic motivation that makes the workers highly productive. Generally, social recognition, collaboration, talent retention and productivity and reinforcing the corporate culture are the social incentives that can be used to motivate military officers. More so, friendship at the workplace should be upheld as it fosters learning among the workers and it also makes it easy to identify small problems at the work place.

The paper concludes by asserting that in the case of military training together in one country, the use of the stated motivation tools are bound to enhance the levels of leadership efficiency. As such, motivation should only be extended to social recognition, collaboration, talent retention and productivity and reinforcing the corporate culture.

Introduction

Leadership is not a captivating personality that results due to ability to charm and talk nicely. Neither is leadership defined by the ability to influence and make friends. These are empty qualities of leadership that can be viewed as flattery. Leadership is making an individual change his/her vision to hire levels, raising an individual’s performance, and building a unique personality that inspires the followers (Foti, 2007) this are very essential elements of effective leadership in military units.  All these aspects of leadership revolve around motivation of the followers. Motivation is highly individualised and complex and can be achieved physically, psychologically, instinctively, and sometimes unconsciously (Eccles & Wigfield, 2002). In many organisations, motivation is an important factor that drives performance and innovations. It is commonly agreed that once an individual is motivated he/she becomes productive because work becomes passion. Therefore, motivation is the intrinsic desire that drives an individual to give his/her best at work. The level of relatedness of leadership and motivation among the followers places motivational tools at a central position in achieving good leadership.

The approach to leadership in the military is a complex amalgamation of directive, coaching and delegating leadership styles, where discipline is the universal rule (Horn & Walker, 2008). It is common knowledge that whenever an order has been given out, it is a must for the junior officer in that ranking to act immediately. The fact that discipline requires motivation in order to maintain it at highest standards; the military leadership are required to develop approaches that can ensure the officers are highly motivated. This paper intents to analyse the concept of motivation as a leadership tool and its application by the military to enhance leadership.

Theories of Motivation

Motivation is an important aspect in organizational leadership in that is used in ensuring the staff are mission driven (Eccles & Wigfield, 2002). Approaches used to realise motivation vary from one organisation to another depending on the nature and rules of the job. There are four common theories of motivation that have been used by many research studies into the issues revolving around staff and employee motivation. These include; Humanistic Theory of Motivation, Incentive theory, Drive theory, and Cognitive dissonance theory (Deci, Koestner, & Ryan, 1999).

Humanistic Theory of Motivation

This theory is rooted on the fact that most human beings are rational and anything done by anybody is driven by reason (Hoffmann, 2007). This type of motivation is realised either through a push and pull model or self control (Eccles & Wigfield, 2002). Push and pull is used to create external motivation while the self control is emotional intelligences that give an individual the will to perform a task without being rewarded. This theory is well illustrated by the famous Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs which has divided motivation into various levels with numerous reasons that promote the performance of the affected actions (Hoffmann, 2007). In a military environment, the soldiers can be motivated by providing the staff a reason to why they should be motivated to conduct the stated task.

Incentive Theory

This theory proposes that motivation and behaviour are influenced by beliefs or engagements that are profitable to the individual (Guay et al., 2010). This theory is based on reward

system is the major focus of motivation because it is generally believed that by attaching a reward to an action, there is a likely chance that the same action will be repeated (Guay et al., 2010). However, since it is coined from the value of a reward, the time taken to give the reward is an important driver of the motivation. Additionally, continuous rewarding is a catalyst for a prolonged behaviour towards achieving the target. Conversely, the incentive theory focuses on the reinforcement principle as the fundamental mover of motivation because it determines the behaviour in the future. For example, if an individual is rewarded for an action, maintaining the same behaviour requires a pledge of another reward. This way, the promise is a positive reinforcement of the action. Contrastingly, if there is no clear plan for the next reward that person would not maintain the same behaviour because of negative reinforcement.

Drive Theory

A drive is an individual aspect that causes a behavioural change such that the individual is confident of attaining the objective (Eccles, & Wigfield, 2002).  The desire, which acts as the drive for attaining the goal can either be external or internal within the person. For instance, during starvation a person is compelled by the force of being hungry to seek food. The drive will only be relaxed after the individual has accessed food and he or she is no longer hungry. Another good illustration of the drive is the desire for sex, which is a biological push that is found in all animals because it is a hormonal controlled system in the body.  Depending on the hormonal level in the animal, the drive would either be surfeit or low. This shows that the drive theory proposes that intrinsic factors are the major forces that make motivation possible. Therefore, the drive theory is rooted in the escapism and seeking models because it is what develops the drive in a person (Guay, et al., 2010). This theory can be analysed from a military point where the main drive is search for peace where an individual is motivated not to stop functioning at his/her best until peace is realised (Horn  & Walker, 2008).

Cognitive Dissonance Theory

This theory proposes that cognitive dissonance results after an individual becomes uncomfortable based on the opinion of people around him and what he /she believes in (Eccles, & Wigfield, 2002). For example, when a consumer buys an item, it is common knowledge that the item provides him/her the desired satisfaction. However, if the consumer prefers another item for the same purpose shows that the value of that item is not consistent with the view of the consumer. Consequently, this theory highlights that people are forced to become motivated in the hope to reducing dissonance. This can be achieved through changing their attitudes, beliefs, mitigating, blaming, rejecting or actions in fear of facing the inconsistencies resulting from mental strain (Guay, et al., 2010).

Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation

Based on the analysis of the above theories, motivation can either be internal or external depending on how and where it is applied. Intrinsic motivation is a determination to perform in an individual that is driven by personal interest or enjoyment of the role given. It forms an important element of cognitive, societal and physical development of a person in the organisation (Deci, Koestner, & Ryan, 1999). In this regard, intrinsic motivation does not rely on external factors or reward for it to be nurtured in an individual. This is a very important form of motivation in the military since it gives them a sense of purpose even when the situation they are facing is life threatening (Horn  & Walker, 2008).

On the other hand, external motivation also known as extrinsic motivation is a managerial tool whereby a certain activity is performed with an aim to realise a desirable outcome. Thus, it is a dependant of the external factors that would drive the desire to become a will through giving reward or other forms of incentives (Eccles, & Wigfield, 2002). Competition is considered a major ingredient in developing extrinsic motivation among a group of people. Competition in the military can be cultivated through development of reward system which can be in monetary form or grade (Eccles, & Wigfield, 2002). The disadvantage of embracing this form of motivation is that it may lead to over justification, which has a devastating effect to the overall intrinsic motivation level created in an individual (Deci, Koestner, & Ryan, 1999). Furthermore, external motivation in the military can be created through threats. This is common during military training where, only those who display the ability to train hard and pass all the hurdles graduate to become soldiers. For the case of those who are reluctant, they are punished by being dropped from the graduating lot. As a result, all the recruits strive to attain the requirements to qualify for graduation.

Leadership and Management in the military

Leadership is a social ability that a person uses to influence others in a community or an organisation (Bonnie, 2008). Through the social ability, the person is able to win the support of the majority. When an individual assumes the leadership of a group or an organisation, he becomes responsible for attaining a desired goal. There are several forms of leadership that does not depend on the formal education of a person. However, leadership can also be natural or acquired. The major role of a leader as in the case of the military is to give directions on certain matters affecting a group so as to avoid conflict among its members (Bonnie, 2008).

The only similarity between a manager and a leader is that they are both tasked with ensuring the success of an organisation (Udge, 2002). The manager is responsible for administration while a leader creates ideas. Therefore, a manager can be made, but a leadership is natural. Managers are supposed to implement all the structures while a leader is more concerned with its constituents. Managers are more concerned with systems while to a leader the constituents are given the first priority. A new economy manager is tasked with nurturing the skills of workers and motivating the workers to produce results, but a leader is ensures that there is efficiency (Udge, 2002). From this analysis, it is evident that military organizations operate with leaders and not managers due to the uniqueness of the military work environment (Horn  & Walker, 2008).

Furthermore, the differences between a manager and a leader can be reconciled through defining the roles of each person (Foti, 2007). The difference between a manager and a leader has made many people think of leadership as the ability to deliver results. When a manager is able to handle his workers properly, then the result is a good performance of the organisation. Also, a leader’s success is measured on how he/she is able to change the well- being of his constituents. Therefore, both leadership and management is measured in terms of success.

Qualities of an effective leader in a military organisation

A learning organisation is a setup that promotes a continuous state of acquiring knowledge and skills within an organisation (Shannon, 2002). The learning process can be both beneficial and disastrous depending on the learning program itself. However, in other cases an individual can learn, but fail to disseminate this information to others in the organisation. As such, the basis to which learning can be promoted depends on the leadership skills and capabilities. Learning is a process that involves the transfer of information, and it greatly depends on whoever is mandated with disseminating the information (Foti, 2007). The first effective quality of a military leader is to have good communication skills. A good communicator will enable learning because the information will be relayed to the desired audience properly.

Another quality of an effective military leader is the ability to embrace teamwork (Foti, 2007). The team spirit is the determining factor for the success of learning because through teamwork it is possible to consider both the strength and weakness of an individual military officer.  More so, a good military leader should be able to anticipate change in the organisation to facilitate the process. In addition, other important qualities of an effective military leader include: knowledge about organising meetings, interest, a positive attitude, commitment, the ability to maintain confidentiality, the ability to adapt and function in times of uncertainty, the ability to plan and set goals effectively, honesty, a high character, enthusiasm, patience, and logic (Cromwell, 2004).

Leadership strategies and Organizational Learning

Leadership strategies are an important tool in organisational learning because it ensures the direction adopted by an organization will ensure full realization of the organization’s objectives. Military heads need to develop effective leadership strategies that will form a framework to realising positive outcomes during the learning process. The most important leadership strategies in promoting staff motivation are organisational culture and leadership style (Cromwell, 2004).

Organisational culture is a supposition that exists between staff and leaders in a military organisation that help to attain positive organizational performance (Shannon, 2002). It is a leadership strategy because it outlines the responsibility of an officer in the military institution. For instance, if the organisational culture is networked with high sociability and high solidarity, then it will facilitate teamwork; this gives the organisational learning a positive outcome because the information will be shared amongst the members (Shannon, 2002). On the other hand, if the culture is fragmented with low solidarity, then it encourages individualism hence it can lead to negative outcomes because there is no sharing of information (Shannon, 2002). Therefore, the leadership style adopted by the management determines the effectiveness of a military organization. A style that is all inclusive is likely to lead to a positive performance outcome because it allows brainstorming and sharing of information. However, segregated leadership style is likely to result to negative performance outcomes in an organization because the followers do not interact with the leaders limiting the level of motivation in the organization.

Qualities a leader exhibits that may hinder the learning process in a military organization

The success of the learning process depends on the qualities of the military leader in that the qualities may promote or hinder the learning process (Horn  & Walker, 2008). There are several qualities of a leader that may hinder learning, including poor communication skills, negative attitude, lack of interest, failure to maintain confidentiality, dishonesty and an impatient leader (Cromwell, 2004). It is worth identifying the implications of these qualities for a leader in the process of cultivating a learning environment in an organization.

Poor communication may result in a situation whereby the leader cannot disseminate the correct information effectively. As such, either the information is misrepresented or misunderstood. Having a negative attitude towards something makes an individual to become less committed to the learning process (Cromwell, 2004). A good leader should be fully committed to the activities involved in learning at all costs to ensure that all information is disseminated properly to the intended persons as it is a major tool that promotes motivation among military personnel. The organisation information requires a lot of confidentiality. For example, some members of a military unit may find it hard to learn in a team especially on professional issues. This information should be treated as confidential by the leader so as not to expose such persons.

The role of ethics in the decision-making process in military organizations

Ethics is personal attribute that helps an individual to effectively execute his responsibilities in a unified way (Shannon, 2002). Decision making is an inevitable aspect of leadership that ensures the smooth running of processes within a military organization. A poor decision making process leads to unwanted results that may have detrimental effects to the organisation (Cromwell, 2004). Therefore, ethics play a role in critical thinking to ensure that decisions made effective and ethically acceptable in the organization. Since ethics is an individual belief, it determines the way an individual would respond to a certain situation because it gives the basis through which the thought will be propagated.

According to Shannon (2002), “moral philosophy can be summed up in three approaches: materialism, utilitarianism, and deontology” (p. 271). Therefore, the decision making capability of an individual depends on the moral approach. In decision making, an individual’s personal ethics can deter making substantive decisions even where there are options available. For instance, sometimes leaders are forced to a make decision whose impacts greatly satisfy their self-interest. Take the example of a politician who promises to implement safety rules in the passenger service vehicles. As much as this is a decision that would affect the entire population positively, ethical issues may arise if the politician makes it mandatory to buy safety belts from a specified company for his/her own vested interests.

Effects of using a systems perspective in decisions making

Decisions in a military organisation can be both constructive and destructive.  Therefore, the decision making process should be bound by organisational and leadership systems that limit the extent to which the decision can be altered with regard to the organizational objectives, vision and culture (Shannon, 2002). When a decision is not made on a system perceptive, it is likely to lead to conflicts within the organisation. For instance, members of a military organisation are bound by the culture and objectives of the organisation that are specific to that organisation (Horn  & Walker, 2008). Most military organizations have an elaborate mechanism for decision making that ensure that all the interests of the stakeholders are considered in the decision.

More so, organizational decision making mechanism serves as a control measure that ensures the decisions made by the leadership do not promote self interests, but the objectives of the organisation in general (Cromwell, 2004). Conflicts will always develop in cases where decisions are made without abiding to the organizations system’s perspective. This is a major demotivating factor in military settings (Horn  & Walker, 2008). This occurs mainly when a leader makes a decision that is based on his self interest. For example, tendering is a vital exercise within a military organisation that is affected by decision making. Individuals holding power in such an organisation have the ability to influence the tendering process in their favour. In such a case, the tender may be awarded to a bidder who does not meet the required qualifications specified in the systems perspective. This would lead to a situation where the work done is shoddy, or the organisation pays more for low quality services.

Employment Relationship and its application in the military setting

The term ‘employment-relationship’ is transposable with others when describing aspects of the general relationship between the leaders and the staff in an organization.   According to Kaufman (2004), this relationship basically describes the exchange of work by employees for pay from employers.  The role of a well defined and productive employment relationship is to equitably lead the various employer worker relationships in an organisation and resolve conflicts within the organisation (Kaufman, 2004). As such, several employees have developed a psychological contract with their employers. Breaching the developed psychological contract has negative implication to the business because loyalty, motivation and commitment of the workers is greatly reduced (Hodgkinson, 2003).

The goal of most military organizations is to developing an effective production mechanism to promote the output level. This is achieved if there is an elaborate employment relationship within such an organisation. Most successful organizations have a well established Human Resource Management department which is in charge of the employment relationship. This department has been obliged with the responsibility of monitoring the employment relationship and both internal and external factors that affect it.

According to Gospel and Palmer (1993), employment relationship is an economic, social and political association in which employees provide labour for an accepted reward by the employer. Thus, a successful employment relationship must be formulated using a psychological contract that is developed in the mutual agreement between the employer and the employee. On the other hand, Lewis and his colleagues (2003) define employment relationship as an economic, legal, social, psychological and political relationship where employees dedicate their time and expertise experience to the best interest of the employer in exchange of a varied range of rewards in terms of personal financial and non-financial gains.  Therefore, the application of effective employee relationship management in the military context as a motivational tool requires in-depth analysis of the employee to ensure hi/she is highly motivated.

Social incentives and motivation in the military

The workplace happiness is one of the major factors that contribute largely to the success of a leader. Every leader has a unique role to play in order to ensure that all the staff is happy at the workplace so that they can become productive. David (2012) found out that workers’ productivity is significantly higher when an employee is attached to friends who are more able. Perks, monetary rewards and social incentives have been widely used as approaches of enhancing workplace happiness and hence staff motivation (David, 2012). However, the perks and monetary rewards have an insignificant effect in promoting motivation in the current organizational environment (Deci et al., 1999). According to the Harvard business review, perks and monetary rewards do not promote happiness, but instead they promote a culture of entitlement (David, 2012). However, monetary terms can be used for those workers under the piece rate terms as a social incentive. This results to a complex situation when analysing leadership approaches that are founded on followers’ motivation.

Social recognition is a leadership tool where positive relationship is maintained at the workplace through acknowledging and rewarding employees’ achievements (David, 2012). This is an important tool because it enables employees to celebrate their success thus improving their work experience. There is a social pressure created among the employees when he or she is given credit of an outstanding work. Additionally, other workers are also forced to compete for the social recognition thus promoting productivity. The idea of social recognition sets to bring about the intrinsic motivation aspect that makes the worker productive. Moreover, it helps the workers build a corporate culture and advance personal legacy (Robison, 2006). Once the culture is developed at the workplace, then it becomes a long term solution to promoting happiness. As a result, social recognition is a powerful leadership tool in promoting the happiness that can be used as a motivational tool in the military. This can be achieved through fostering collaboration, increasing talent retention and productivity and reinforcing the corporate culture of the military organisation (Rath & Clifton, 2004).

Collaboration at the workplace is a sure way of motivating the workers because it satisfies the social recognition of that particular worker. This can be achieved through allowing praise and recognition to become public at the workplace so that those who are praised feel appreciated (Nahapiet & Ghoshal, 1998). Perks and monetary enumerations do not promote happiness because they do not promote the intrinsic factors that spur contentment. A worker would only work to get into the next job group to get the enumeration, but this does not mean he or she is contented. Collaboration rewards the best out of a pool of workers thus making the individual blissful because it creates friendship within the departments. On the other hand, collaboration can be used to facilitate the distribution of workers ability that has a positive effect to the firm’s aggregate performance. Thus, the use social incentives by the management  promotes sustained productivity as opposed to monetary motivational packages which have limits.

Furthermore, staff motivation can be realized through increasing talent retention and productivity (Robison, 2006). Different employees have different capabilities, and those with the best abilities should be retained as much as possible. This is because such employees work hard for the company to realise its goals. The productivity level of such workers becomes better when they are offered an opportunity to enhance their ability and realise their full potential. Additionally, talent retention saves the organization extra cost of recruiting and training new employees. Moreover, the morale of workers is maintained at high levels in an institution where workers with good talents are retained for a longer period (Rath & Clifton, 2004). This is because such workers feel recognised and happy about their role at the workplace. Tapping into the talent and ability of an individual is a motivational aspect that makes the employee work more to obtain innovations. In this way, the employee sets to gain in developing the career and monetary incentives where talent has led to important innovations.

Additionally, motivation can be realised through reinforcing the military operational culture because it gives the workers an opportunity to share the success story within the organisation (Horn  & Walker, 2008). Success is not automatically inclined to organizational infrastructure, but the extent of the human capital. This is evaluated in terms of how comfortable and content the staff is as they are more productive when contented with the work and the environment. Therefore, leaders have the responsibility of motivating the workers, and this can be achieved through establishing peer-peer programs that develop a shared culture (Robison, 2006). A strong culture will give the workers an opportunity to become more productive in their duties. More so, culture develops a network that is capable of attracting competent employees across the board to improve the performance and effectiveness of an organization in general (Nahapiet & Ghoshal, 1998).

Leadership Style and staff Motivation in the military

Leadership style is significant to determine the level of motivation to the staff in the military.  This is because during the entire life of a person, his or her ambitions keep on changing depending on the needs and the environment (Shannon, 2002). Therefore, the leadership style under which an individual works is a clear catalyst of motivation because it provides the social incentive as well as environmental settings that define the ambitions of the followers. Further, it has been realised that command-and-control leadership reduces ambition while worker responsibility increases ambition. As such, the leadership style should focus on developing ambition because it is a major motivating factor for specified job requirements (Udge, 2002) such as the military job. For instance, a military leadership style that is based on minimal supervision enables the staff to be motivated to trust their decisions. In this case, the workers have decision making responsibilities which make the whole team to be motivated to work. Consequently, where the leadership style offers both limited supervision and worker responsibility in decision making, the leader should consider goal, reward and recognition as motivation (Lewis et al., 2003). On the contrast, where the leadership style is highly supervised and command-and- control, there should be peer, authority, threat or fear motivation. Here, the motivation will be to be like others, adherence to policy and resist change. This means that there is high status quo dependency, and obviously the leadership style focuses on resisting change. As such, there is low efficiency as compared to the other forms of leadership.

Conclusion

Motivation is a central aspect of effective military leadership since it not only guarantees performance within a military organization but also ensures sustained effectiveness of the staff (Horn  & Walker, 2008). Social incentives play an important role in leadership success in an organisation. It develops the intrinsic motivation that makes the military officers highly productive. Where monetary incentives are used, maintaining motivation among the staff becomes hard since they work towards increasing their income. Social recognition, collaboration, talent retention and productivity and reinforcing the shared culture are the social incentives that can be used to motivate military personnel. However, friendship at the workplace should be upheld as it fosters learning among the officers and it also makes it easy to identify small problems at the work place. Therefore, in the case of military training together in one country, there is a need for leadership efficiency. As such, motivation should only be extended to social recognition, collaboration, talent retention and productivity and reinforcing the shared culture.

 

 

 

 


 

References

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