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Motivation and leadership

Leadership goes beyond management. Management involves getting things done using the resources of the organisation, and the formal patterns and rules within the organisation. Leadership, on the other hand, sometimes involves driving through changes and new initiatives, which may be unpopular in some quarters. It is possible to identify a range of approaches to leading change in an organisation, depending on the use of authority by the leader, and the amount of freedom given to subordinates.

An authoritarian approach involves a leader making the decisions themselves and then telling others what to do.

A consultative approach involves talking to people who will be involved in a decision, perhaps asking them for their views and ideas, and also informing them of any changes that are likely to take place.

A democratic approach involves allowing participants to get involved in decision-making – perhaps through a teamwork approach. The role of the leader is to help to create teamwork structures and to encourage the teams to take responsibility for decision-making.

Each of these approaches will be used in different settings. The key is to use the right approach in the right setting. In many situations the consultative and democratic approaches will be more motivating because the leader is placing more responsibility on ground level employees, encouraging them to feel involved. When employees are involved in decisions making they are far more likely to take ownership of the initiative and be committed to making sure that it works in practice.

A good leader will be able to motivate others:

  • by showing a passion for what they are doing
  • being able to communicate clearly with others
  • by encouraging others to get involved in decision-making
  • by being a good role model for the ideas that they are advocating
  • by clarifying objectives
  • by clearly setting out the benefits to all parties of decisions that are made.

Leadership power

The power of the leader is very important in motivating others. There are a number of sources of power:

1. Personal power is possessed by certain individuals and is sometimes termed ‘charismatic’ or ‘referent’ power. Some individuals have tremendous charisma and are able to build up personality cults.

2. Legitimate power is based on people having positions within a structured framework. In a particular culture, power will be delegated to different offices or positions and this will be accepted by members as being legitimate.

3. Expert power is based on the specialised knowledge possessed by certain individuals. It frequently arises where there is complex knowledge that can be gained only through education and training.

4. Political power stems from being supported by a group. To gain political power the leader will need to be able to work with people and social systems to gain support and allegiance from them.

Motivational leadership involves striking the right balance between these four sources of power, and using them when appropriate.

The culture of an organisation is the pattern of relationships and typical behaviour within that organisation. It is sometimes referred to as ‘the way we do things around here’.

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