Motivation and Leadership
This work is submitted as part of the requirements for the MSc in information system and management. The work contained in this assignment is my own, individual and original work and has not been used in whole or in part for any other assessment on this or any other degree. I have read and understand the university rules on plagiarism. This essay discusses the quote by Dwight D.
Eisenhower on leadership. In this quote, he defines leadership as the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it. Firstly, the meaning of this quote is explained by highlighting two distinct aspects of this statement, which is that leadership is the art of getting people to ‘want to do’ and getting them to ‘actually do’ what the leader wants done. It is inferred from this statement that Eisenhower’s notion is that these two processes, although distinct, are not mutually exclusive.
To provide a further explanation, the essay goes on to conceptualize these processes with their associated distinct leadership-styles and discusses the view point that these two concepts have to work both in combination and complementarily in order for his perspective on leadership to be fully agreed upon. “Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it” (Dwight D. Eisenhower). What does this quote mean? To what extent do you agree or disagree with the quote and why?
Over the years, many researchers, writers and leadership theorists have postulated various theories, ideas and perspectives on leadership, most of which are centred on the exertion of influence by a person on others to make them do something or achieve a goal. There is no one universally accepted definition of leadership. However, to name a few, Maxwell (1998) describes leadership as being nothing more (or less) than influence. Yukl (1994) also defined leadership as “the ability of one person to influence a group of persons toward the achievement of common goals” (p. 14). In the quote by Dwight D.
Elsenhower above, leadership is viewed as the process of getting people to want to do as opposed to getting them just to do, which is a clear difference between the process of managing and that of leading (Kouzes & Posner, 1987). This statement holds true when the leader is able to properly communicate his vision in such a way that the followers are able to believe and buy into this vision by showing them how they can be served by a common goal. This ability of the leader to inspire his followers and get them to identify with his vision enacts their willingness to do something because they actually want to do it.
Leaders do this by first of all being credible. They establish this credibility by their actions – by challenging, inspiring, enabling, modelling and encouraging (Kouzes & Posner, 1987). When a leader is credible, he is better able to solicit the support and commitment of his followers. They are more willing to provide time, intelligence and energy to support the cause championed by the leader (Kouzes et al, 2010), because they trust and identify with his visions and goals and are confident in his ability to deliver.
In essence, for a leader to get people to do things because they actually want to, he must be believable. His level of honesty, drive and passion therefore go a long way in building up this believable character. This quote also highlights the fact that leadership involves ‘delegating’ a task that the leader himself ‘wants done’. Hence, the leader has to take full responsibility for the task carried out by the subordinate and give him credit where appropriate.
This is further supported by another quote by D. Eisenhower cited in Puryear Jr. 1991) who says: “…Leadership consists of nothing but taking responsibility for everything that goes wrong and giving your subordinates credit for everything that goes well. ” (p. 289). Therefore, the Leader is fully responsible for anything that the subordinate does wrong and the subordinate should be made to understand this. Bearing this in mind, leaders adopt a leadership style to achieve their objectives and get their subordinates to do what they want. Different leadership styles have been discussed in earlier works of literature.
Three major leadership-styles identified by psychologists Lewin et al (1939), are the democratic, autocratic and the laissez-faire styles. Active member involvement and group-decision making is encouraged by the democratic style while leaders are more domineering in the autocratic style and ‘hands off’ in the laissez-faire styles respectively. Also, in the framework proposed by Getzels and Guba (1957), the bureaucratic and delegative leadership-styles can be identified. The former being the style in which policies and procedures are prescribed while the latter is exactly the same as in the laissez-faire (passive) leadership style.
Goleman (2000) also proposes six leadership-styles, which are, authoritative, democratic, affiliative, coercive, coaching and pacesetting. He explains that every leadership style is made up of some degree of emotional intelligence, which is exhibited through self-management, self-awareness, social awareness and social skill. Moreover, Authors such as Yukl, (1999), Rowold & Heinitz, (2007) and Judge & Piccolo (2004) have distinguished between two leadership styles; transactional and transformational leadership. These distinct leadership styles were initially introduced by Burns (1978), which was then later modified by Bass in 1985.
To buttress the highlighted points and meanings of the quote discussed so far, this essay would be mainly focusing on the transformational and transactional approaches to leadership. Furthermore, how these styles can influence follower motivation would be discussed, as well as the extent to which this quote can be agreed upon. As explained earlier, this quote views leadership as a process of getting people to do what you want because they ‘want to’ and also as a process of getting people to ‘actually do it’. It may be inferred from Eisenhower’s statement that his view is that these two processes although separate, are not mutually exclusive.
Hence, the transformational and transactional leadership styles can be characterized by each of these processes respectively, both of which can be combined and used to complement each other. This combination and complementation of these two leadership styles and processes can therefore be aligned with Eisenhower’s notion of leadership. Transformational leadership is one in which the leader elevates the interests of his followers by increasing awareness and acceptance of the group’s purpose and mission and by also allowing the followers to look beyond self-interest but to the collective interest of the group (Bass, 1985).
The leader transforms the values and priorities of subordinates, and motivates them to exceed their performance expectations (Yukl, 1994). It is seen as a more participative leadership style in which the subordinates are inspired and influenced positively by their leader and accept, internalize and identify with the leader’s visions (Jung & Avolio, 2000). The willingness of subordinates to do what the leader wants done is influenced by their trust and confidence in the leader, coupled with his ability to inspire and motivate the employees to achieve great results by putting in the extra effort (Bass, 1985).
Also, the ability of the leader to understand the differences and individuality of the followers, as well as provide support to foster growth and development also helps to increase their commitment and willingness to do what is required (Bass, 1985). The leader here is charismatic and energetic and is able to instill this enthusiasm into his followers, which gets them to actually want to do the job as oppose to just doing as they are told. However, in the transactional style of leadership, the followers simply do as they are told.
The leadership is more like a process of exchange or contractual agreement between the leaders and followers (kappen, 2010). The leader meets the immediate needs of his followers as a reward, in exchange for the desired level of performance and negative consequences (punishment) is used to curtail undesired behavior (Jung & Avolio, 2000). Unlike in transformational leadership, the leader seems not be really concerned with changing the followers attitudes, beliefs and values neither do the followers feel the need to develop a greater sense of commitment and trust in the leader.
The focus is mainly on just getting the job done which is the second aspect of leadership outlined earlier from Eisenhower’s quote. Leadership styles can impact or influence follower motivation to a significant extent. Transactional leadership is of the notion that people are motivated by reward and punishment and when the conditions of the exchange process are agreed upon, the followers primarily do what is required of them by the leadership. However, in transformational leadership, the followers are not only motivated by rewards but also by the processes resulting in these rewards (kappen, 2010).
Transformational leadership embodies charismatic leadership where followers can be motivated by inspiration and by increasing their level of emotional involvement. To further expatiate on the influence of leadership styles on motivation, the relationship between transactional and transformational and motivation shall be discussed respectively. As discussed earlier, transactional leadership is an exchange process or contractual agreement between leaders and subordinates, in which the subordinates are externally driven to yield results through rewards and punishment.
This external drive can be referred to as extrinsic motivation. Transactional leadership based on contingent reward is positively related to the follower’s motivation (Judge & Piccolo 2004). By providing contingent reward systems, leaders can motivate their followers to put in their best efforts to yield the desired results. The task assigned to the follower may generally be of no interest but the provision of an external reward could motivate the person to complete the task (kappen, 2010). These external rewards may be monetary or be in the form of good scores etc.
This shows that a leader can still get people to do what he wants done even without them actually wanting to do it, as opposed to what Eisenhower’s suggests. Here leadership is not necessarily the art of getting people to do something you want done because they want to, it is the art of getting people to simply do by providing the appropriate reward agreed upon. Hence the reward or avoidance of punishment is the motivator rather than the leader or the task itself. In the case of transformational leadership, the focus is more internal and on the process as a whole and not just the outcome (Kappen, 2010).
Internal or intrinsic motivation can be derived from task features such as autonomy, task significance, feedback, task identity, and so on (Houkes et al, 2001). The transformational leader tries to meet the immediate and future intrinsic needs of his subordinates, which are closely related to Maslow’s higher order needs (Maslow 1943).
Hence intrinsic motivation plays a key role in this process and this notion is supported by (Barbuto, 2005) who explains that internal or intrinsic motivation encompasses a persons emotions, fun, trust and feeling of self-worth and these are all driven by internal influences which can be ppropriated by transformational behavior. The leader tries to transform the followers’ goals, beliefs and values to align with his and that of the organization and motivates them by positively building up their sense of self-worth and self-efficacy (Shamir et al, 1993). The ability of the leader to achieve this through his charismatic persona and individualized consideration, helps to increase their willingness to do what the leader wants done and to achieve the desired performance levels or outcome.
So, drawing from all the points mentioned above, to what extent can Eisenhower’s quote be agreed upon? By identifying two distinct aspects in his statement, this essay has highlighted Eisenhower’s notion of leadership as being the art of getting people to ‘want to do’ and to ‘actually do’ what the leader wants done. This statement holds true so far as these processes are seen as distinct yet not mutually exclusive. Hence, the two processes have been characterized by the transformational and transactional leadership-styles respectively.
The transformational leadership-style is associated with the process of getting people to want to do due to the leader’s ability to inspire trust and confidence in his vision as well as his ability to internally motivate people to put in their best efforts to yield the desired outputs. On the other hand, the transactional leadership-style is associated with getting the work done regardless of whether or not the subordinates actually want to do it provided there is an extrinsic reward agreed upon or the avoidance of punishment.
Therefore, as long as these two concepts and their associated leadership-styles can be combined and used to complement each other rather than viewed as just separate, this quote can be agreed upon. This means that leadership should not merely be the art of getting people just to do what you want done but also it should involve the processes involved in inspiring and motivating them to actually want to do it and vice versa.
When a leader is able to motivate his followers internally and externally with the appropriate rewards and charismatic approach to transforming their behavior, the leadership would tend to be more successful and well aligned to its aims and this balance therefore agrees with Eisenhower’s perspective of leadership.