Leadership and Motivation Help in the Workplace

Introduction to Motivation

In the past, employees were considered as just another input into the production of goods and services. This somehow changed when a study called Hawthorne Studies was revealed and found out that employees are not motivated solely by money. Their behavior is associated linked to their attitudes. This study became the basis of the managers to focus on the needs and motivation of the employees. The human relations approach to management has been popular since (Lindner).

The question of why are companies and businesses interested in staff motivation always pops up every time there is a discussion about people in the workplace. Proper to say that keeping the staff motivated is really good for every business. One of the reasons is that motivated workers are more productive and higher productivity usually means higher profits. In a service industry, workers who are well motivated will provide a better level of customer service, keeping the customers happy. Staff who is well motivated are more likely to stay with the company. They grow in experience and become even more valuable to their employer. If a business successfully keeps the staff it has, the cost of recruiting and training new staff is reduced (BBCNews).

What motivates the worker depends on what the organization is offering. But here is the order of the motivating factors: how interesting is the work, good pay, recognition of the work done, security of a job, good office and condition, a career path in the organization, feeling that he belongs, reliability to employees, considerate discipline, and being sympathetic in helping with personal problems (Lindner).

Motivation and Leadership

Motivation and leadership are synonymous with each other particularly in helping people in an organization. Different meanings and instances are available describing these two. Take first the things and facts about motivation.

In the workplace, getting the work done through its employees is one of the jobs assigned to the manager or leader. But how it is done could not be that easy. The proper motivation of the employees is needed. No, it cannot be that simple to execute. Observance and premise of motivation are hard topics as it touches various subjects. Despite several studies about motivation, still it remained vague and unclear and usually badly practiced. Understanding it requires better recognition of what human nature is. So there goes the trouble (ACCEL Team).

The motivation of a person is an aggregate of energy and desire directed to achieving a certain goal. It is getting a person to want to do what they know must be done. The motivation of a person depends on two things. How strong the need for something should be the first to consider. For instance, if a person has an urgent deadline and is truly hungry he will eat first. But if he happens to just be a little hungry, he will first finish the job before eating (Clark, 2005).

The second is that the way you see a certain action will help satisfy what he needs. Take for example if you have two important needs. Say to finish the given task and to take the lunch. Determining which one should be prioritized depends on the perception of how you view those needs. You will do the task first if you believe not doing so will fire you. On the other hand, if you think nothing will happen to you for not finishing it on time, you will take your lunch first. Forces that can motivate a person include values, beliefs, interests, fear, and other worthy causes. Motivation has no simple formula. An open viewpoint regarding human nature should be taken into account (Clark, 2005).

Others describe motivation as a force helping people to achieve desires, work, goals, and life ideas. In an organization, the leaders are the ones who initiate motivation among its people for the improvement of its services and products. (Nasseh, 1996).

On the other hand, leadership can be described as the practice of leading one person or entity. This is the capability of achieving the behavior of humans assigned to a leader. Take for instance the emperors or ministers who lead the countries. There are many ways of attaining leadership such as through education, experience, or just plain self-study. Like other disciplines, it has informal and formal sides. Leadership in businesses and politics is considered formal. The one present in friendships is the informal (Leadership, 2006).

According to Astin of UCLA, leadership is a method that targets the promotion of change. This is somewhat ironic to the concept of management which implies maintaining or preserving what is existing. Leadership implies a procedure where movement is evident. As leadership is easily viewed as associated with a leader who basically is an agent of change. A leader is somebody who initiates change. By definition, this is a group or collective process because it involves other people. The concept of leadership includes fostering change innately value-based, people are all possible leaders and it is a group process (Astin).

For USA Today, whether it is a good or bad time a strong leadership is always needed. Leaders bring a great impact to our current life and even on our future. Like in a business or company, the success will basically depend on the business leader who inherits the position. Recorded time and present life experiences serve as basis and supply provide control and regulations on how to develop leadership just like what was demonstrated in the past (USA Today).

Leaders are made and are not born. It is so as young people can develop and learn leadership skills and attitudes. There are five areas of proficiency that make leaders or shaping up leadership development efforts. Necessary is the communication which should be a convincing argumentation, public speaking/writing, and engaging the participation of others. Next is teamwork which is about respecting others. This is about taking the roles of both leader and follower in building strengths and commitment.

Personal identity is also important. The relationship between oneself and the community, taking responsibility for one’s actions, and having knowledge about the areas for self-improvement must clearly be understood. Another area is professionalism. Here, diplomacy is demonstrated and protocol is understood. Falling also under this category are proper dress code, delivery of quality work, and presenting oneself to others. Project Management is the last area that includes setting goals or developing actions, facilitating meetings, and distinguishing the needs of oneself from that of the community.

Motivation in the workplace

It is very necessary for the team leader to know the needs of the team in the organization. Not only do they need the promotion, raises, job security, and the approval of peers or leaders. Internal forces like ethics and morals also influence them. In an organization, it is important for employees’ good behavior to be rewarded. It can be done by giving a letter, certificate or a simple thank you. These can be considered powerful motivators. Make sure that rewards are in time and specific. Avoid stating something like ‘for performing a good work’. Remember that everyone commits mistakes thus all need help to achieve a particular goal. The leader must set an example and that he should be the role model that of what he wants others to become. Developing the moral of a person is as important. Moral pertains to the mental, spiritual and emotional state of the body (Clark, 2005).

The leader must take into consideration the fact that every action that he will do can possibly have an impact on the organization. Team spirit within the organization must also be present for the people to have the feeling of belonging. In the workplace, it is important that people distinguish if this is the place where they want to spend a part of their lives or if they cannot wait to get out of it. Involving the team in planning and solving problems also helps in their development. Importantly, this gives them an interest in knowing and seeing the plan materialized. Being part of the decision-making process uplift their status. By communicating clearly, people have a better perception of their respective roles in the organization. This results in an open communication gateway. People could feel they are not mere employees but part of it. With these, it could be noted that powerful motivators are recognition and appreciation (Clark, 2005).

Showing concern on them makes a great impact. It does not necessarily mean the leader has the meddle with their personal lives. The empathy relayed to them creates a difference. Keeping the people informed through open communication brings a sense of control over their respective lives. Always think of ways to let them feel their job is meaningful, exciting, and challenging every day. True enough that people want meaningful jobs no matter how hard it would be so long that they know their presence in the organization is valuable. In the case of non-performing employees, it is good to know from the leader’s end the reasons behind it. Take for example the frequent tardiness. An action must be taken.

Leadership In The Workplace

By the end of there was a growing consciousness among organizational theorists and management gurus. This is their finding that one of the key problems in organizations is that they are either under or over-managed. It is true that efficiency in management is not easy as this is critical to any organization. Managers and leaders should have excellent knowledge and technical expertise and strong skills in management (Sheldon).

Why leadership function is important is due to the following reasons: The role of the manager is to administer while the leader is to innovate; the manager is a copy; the leader is an original; systems and structure are the focus of the manager while inspiring trust is the leader’s focus. It is also true that the manager has a short-range view and the leader has a long-range perspective. Usually, the manager’s questions are how and when but the leader asks why and why. The bottom line is where the eye of the manager looks while the leader has an eye on the horizon. The role of the manager is to initiate whilst the leader is to originate. The manager is open to the status quo as the leader challenges it. While the manager is the classic good soldier; the leader is his or her own person. The manager does things right; the leader does the right thing (Sheldon).

Are all employees given the leadership that they expect in their respective workplaces? What are the things that usually people are expecting from their bosses? (William, 2007).

Honestly, it is quite difficult to give everyone something that they can take with them as the leader. Well, accept you are ready to face the consequences. Better to be sure you know what you are doing. As working is part of everyone’s life, it can be denied that there are roles of a boss in them. It is what the boss does which leads them to success. There are some questions on how to be a good boss and what is the key to being one. How to give the people the right leadership? The right attitude is the first thing in line. It is good to have the proper know-how in order to work it out. The boss has to have belief in his people and in the company (William, 2007).

In order to be a mentor to others, the boss must first love his work. The right leadership is the key to turning something bad into a good one. This is what a good boss is all about. Throwing fits and yelling at his people is most unlikely. What is expected is working well with the people and teaching them what to do when needed. Having enough knowledge about your company and the industry it belongs is a plus for an ideal boss with leadership. In this way, getting along with people and guiding them on doing things will be easier. A good boss can make everyone follow the rules and regulations. Employees must see him not just as their boss but also as a friend. This approach results in having open communication. Consequently, people will be comfortable coming to the boss thus problems will be easily discussed and resolved (William, 2007).

The boss must remember that teamwork is one of the most effective means of successfully working with any group. If in one organization there are people who are not with the team, this may hurt not only the members of the team but also the company itself. This is the reason why in the workplace, a leader with leadership is necessary. Happy and contented employees and customers are expected. Coming to work every day is not something one must fear facing. It should be something that one should look forward to. It needs to be something that one loves. A good leader in an organization can escape from having problems with his people every now and then. It should be remembered that every business has problems. However, having excellent leadership could help overcome it faster anyway (William, 2007).

What other factors motivate workers to work satisfactorily? Below is the table on job satisfaction findings carried out by the US Department of Labor among 1500 workers, surveyed asking to rate the job factors which they considered most important to least important (ACCEL).

Job Satisfaction Findings
White-collar workers Blue-collar workers
A. Interesting work A. Good pay
B. Opportunities for development B. Enough help and resources
C. Enough information C. Job security
D. Enough authority D. Enough information
E. Enough help and resources E. Interesting work
F. Friendly, helpful coworkers F. Friendly, helpful co-workers
G. See results of own efforts G. Clearly defined responsibilities
H. Competent supervision H. See results of own work
I. Clearly defined responsibilities I. Enough Authority
J. Good pay J. Competent supervision

Interestingly, the majority with the exception of two items (white-collar workers’ choice (B) and blue-collar workers’ choice (C)) groups selected the same top ten factors though in not same rankings. It is significant that good pay was considered as the most important factor by the blue-collar workers, but it ranked as the least important for white-collar workers (ACCEL).

Example Cases

The largest business software producer in the world, SAP, has its own way of motivating its people. This is a big job for them as they have 29,000 spread in 50 countries. But still, they are proud the company is best in doing this. Winning different awards for their ground-breaking ways of making and staying their employees happy is true evidence of it. Of course, they start with money, which is considered the most needed and luring incentive of all. Since when people are asked why they work, the definite answer is to make a living, definitely at SAP, everyone is very well satisfied with what they are receiving in monetary terms alone. Seldom company offers a £45,000 basic salary but it is what SAP people are receiving. The management may see it as a good package aside from the outstanding benefits they receive plus an attractive bonus scheme. Despite that, the company is still hunting for competitive individuals, the best in their own fields, and oftentimes demand their own terms (BBCNews).

Different from other industries like that of manufacturing, SAP relies on the intelligence of its people rather than machinery or equipment akin to manufacturing companies. For this reason, SAP makes everything to make their people happy. The company tried to make their working environment flexible. To improve their productivity, incentive-based pay structured was planned and implemented. Then each employee can have a package that is incentive-based, flexible, and fixed. Furthermore, the employee can have the option about his flexible portion for either dental or medical services, for pensions, life assurance, and concierge services in exchange for the accumulated and unused leaves. Management knows with these, their people will be inspired to be more productive (BBCNews).

Another motivation the company has is providing free lunch in a high-end restaurant. The building is also structured to encourage creativity and teamwork among its people. They even afforded free healthcare and a private dental checkup for every staff and their respective families. Access to dry – cleaning is also given. One of the things they focus on is the bright and nice design of workspaces and even coffee lounges. The customer service of SAP says this imbues teamwork for the workers. This is enough to cheer one up aside from the flexible benefits they get which enable their people to go on vacation or get a pension plan. The good thing about it is that families can also enjoy it. This scenario is applicable for already big and successful businesses. What if one company is still small or starting up but wants the employees to have the motivation to work? (BBCNews).

The story of Savoir Beds in London is one of the best examples of this. Even they are just a small conventional manufacturing company they have their own different way in the motivation of their people. Since 1905, Savoir has been in the business of making beds which each costs £6,000. Quality of work is more prioritized than quantity. They only make six beds every week. People here do not get bonuses like that in SAP. What the management does is letting the worker finish the bed. Their managing director reasons out that they have no production line which is making only a part of the bed. Instead, the company encourages the people to do the whole thing. They want their people to take pride in what they are working on. After the bed, they let them sign the bed so customers may know who the maker of that one is. More often, satisfied customers write letters or come in personally to meet the staff who makes the bed. Usually, this also results in more orders. That way the sense of pride is visible and felt (BBC News).

These two different companies have unique ways of motivating their employees. Really the success of every business highly depends on people’s motivation.

Some Effective Motivators

Performance Appraisals

One of the most effective motivators for the employees is the Performance Appraisal. There are different objectives when performing this. The first is to measure without bias how an employee performs. A worker’s career path will be easier to decide using this. Developing goals in a career is necessary to keep abreast on what are the latest requirements by the business. It does not follow that when a worker is performing well today she might be too tomorrow. The organization should develop career goals so that the worker may keep pace with the requirements of a fast-paced organization. More and more, every job in an organization becomes more demanding with new requirements. Just because a worker is performing effectively in her job today, does not mean she will be able to perform effectively tomorrow. She must be allowed to grow with the job and the organization (Clark, 2005).

A lot of people consider giving performance appraisals as being quite uncomfortable. However, it is not the judging of people that is really uncomfortable, rather it is the judging of bad performance that is uncomfortable. In effect, management gets to rid off of the poor. Of course, performance appraisal could not completely eliminate employees performing poorly. But at least with a bit more planning, they can be. The first step in performance planning is determining the results that the management wants the employee to attain. Anyway, it is presumed knowledge that every worker knows what he wants to do and so the management must guide him how they want to do it. Additionally, a worker should not be walking blindly into a performance appraisal. An appraisal is a joint effort between the worker and the company. Definitely, no job is better known to a worker but the one doing it. Turning the concerns about the appraisal into some real discussion is better than lecturing about it. This way the leader may hear the side of the worker thus getting some knowledge from him. This insightful information might help him boost his or her performance in the coming days. (Clark, 2005).

It could be noted that companies based employees’ bonuses on the mark they have on the performance appraisal.


It is difficult to overstate the extent to which most managers and the people who advise them believe in the redemptive power of rewards. Certainly, the vast majority of U.S. corporations use some sort of program intended to motivate employees by tying compensation to one index of performance or another. But more striking is the rarely examined belief that people will do a better job if they have been promised some sort of incentive. This assumption and the practices associated with it are pervasive, but a growing collection of evidence supports an opposing view. According to numerous studies in laboratories, workplaces, classrooms, and other settings, rewards typically undermine the very processes they are intended to enhance. The findings suggest that the failure of any given incentive program is due less to a glitch in that program than to the inadequacy of the psychological assumptions that ground all such plans (Kohn, 1993).

Do rewards work? The answer depends on what we mean by “work.” Research suggests that, by and large, rewards succeed at securing one thing only: temporary compliance. When it comes to producing lasting change in attitudes and behavior, however, rewards, like punishment, are strikingly ineffective. Once the rewards run out, people revert to their old behaviors. Studies show that offering incentives for losing weight, quitting smoking, using seat belts, or (in the case of children) acting generously is not only less effective than other strategies but often proves worse than doing nothing at all (Kohn, 1993).

Incentives, a version of what psychologists call extrinsic motivators, do not alter the attitudes that underlie our behaviors. They do not create an enduring commitment to any value or action. Rather, incentives merely and temporarily change what we do. The question for managers is whether incentive plans can work when extrinsic motivators more generally do not. Unfortunately, as author G. Douglas Jenkins, Jr., has noted, most organizational studies to date – like the articles published have tended “to focus on the effects of variations in incentive conditions, and not on whether performance-based pay per se raises performance levels.” A number of studies, however, have examined whether or not pay, especially at the executive level, is related to corporate profitability and other measures of organizational performance. Often they have found slight or even negative correlations between pay and performance (Kohn, 1993).

Typically, this is interpreted as evidence of links between compensation and something other than how well people do their jobs. But most of these data could support a different conclusion, one that reverses the causal arrow. Perhaps what these studies reveal is that higher pay does not produce better performance. In other words, the very idea of trying to reward quality may be a fool’s errand. Consider the findings of Jude T. Rich and John A. Larson, formerly of McKinsey & Company. In 1982, using interviews and proxy statements, they examined compensation programs at 90 major U.S. companies to determine whether a return to shareholders was better for corporations that had incentive plans for top executives than it was for those companies that had no such plans (Kohn, 1993).


Businesses need motivated employees. But why? This is in order to survive. Survival of the business is the key thing. Our rapidly altering workplaces need motivated employees to help organizations to survive. This is so because they are the most productive. Of all the duties and job descriptions of the managers, motivating the employees is the hardest and yes, the most complex one. This is because what motivates the employees to keep on changing. A study for instance shows that as employees’ income increases, money becomes less of a motivator. Same when as the employees get older, those interesting work becomes more of a motivator (Lindner).

The function of the personnel and certain leadership are believed to be the most critical in every company. An environment can maintain its sustainability if the employees are motivated through leaders in the organization. To achieve this, there are three essential things needed to be addressed. These are fairness, job security, and involvement. Human resource is the most important factor why an organization succeeds. It is just the same, they are the most difficult to manage. Excellence is attainable when excellent performance is exerted by the majority of the group and not by just a selected few. Of course, motivation is unquestionably the heart of it (ACCEL).

Obviously, how to motivate people has no simple answer. True that money is the most motivating factor but money alone is not enough though really makes help. Motivation has to be customized to each individual. Still, the human resource remains the focal point while leadership is the critical component. (ACCEL).


ACCEL Team. Employee Motivation: Theory and practice. 2008. Web.

Astin, Alexander. Astin, Helen (2007) What is Leadership? Project Kaleidoscope, Volume IV: What works, what matters, what lasts. pp 1- 5.

BBC News (2003). Lunch Lesson 20 – Motivating your staff. Web.

Brockman, Michael S. Tepper, Karen Hoffman, MacNeil, Carol. What is Leadership. 2008. Web.

Clark, Donald. (2005). Motivation & Leadership. Web.

Kohn, Alfie (1993). Why Incentive Plans Cannot Work. Harvard Business Review.

Leadership. (2006). Web.

Lindner, James. Understanding Employee Motivation. Journal of Extension. 1998. Volume 36. Number 3.

Nasseh, Bizhan. (1996). Leadership and Motivation. Ball State University. Web.

Sheldon, Brooke. Leadership in the Workplace. 2008. Web.

USA Today. (2001). What is Leadership? Case Study. pp. 1-3.

William, Charles. (2007). Leadership As A Boss In The Workplace. ManagerNewz. Web.

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