What Motivates an Individual to Become a Leader?

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The modern day world of business and cut-throat corporate competition is one in which one has to be extremely agile in terms of decision making bold in terms of approaches in order to acquire success (Heller, 2006). What makes the need for such an attitude all the more essential is the fact that if one does not take on an outlook such as this the consequences can be next to disastrous. In this regard, it is imperative to encourage the development of leaders who can be trusted and relied upon by an organization to bring the organization to a point where it can face the hardships of the corporate world (Cooley, 2008).

Regardless of the size of the organization, the need for a leader remains undeniable and modern day organizations channel extensive resources towards the development, training and encouragement of able leadership in their employees (Northouse, 2007). It is for the same reason that it is imperative to acquire a thorough understanding of the exact elements that constitute the causes in light of which an employee can be motivated towards developing leadership capabilities. This paper shall attempt to delve into the reasons because of which a person chooses to take on the role of a leader.

It is essential to note that there are two fundamental schools of thought that exist when considered with regard to the development of motivation for leadership. The first is one which holds that leadership is a naturally present ability and cannot be instigated in an employee (Ackoff, 2005). This school of thought does not submit to the perception that an employee can be trained to incorporate leadership capabilities. The second school of thought is one which holds that leadership is an acquired talent of sorts and if one is subjected to the appropriate external stimuli, an employee can be motivated and developed into a successful and highly productive leader (Parks, 2005). This paper is based upon the second one according to which one can be motivated to take on the role and responsibilities of a leader.


The question that inquires upon the reasons because of which a person chooses to take on the role of a leader is one that is fundamentally one that seeks to explore the motivation that employees find to take on responsibility and exercise their potential to the maximum extent possible in order to ensure that the job is done to perfection. It is for the same reason that the fundamental approach of this paper shall be to delve into the factors that can be considered to cause that can be attributed to the motivation of an individual to become a leader.

To begin with, in a context that is external to that of a formal organization and incorporated more traditionally in everyday life, the causes because of which a person finds motivation to lead are somewhat different from those that can be found in an organization. For instance, if one was to consider the causes for the motivation of a leader in terms of a political context where the leader not only takes active part in the leading of the movement but is also more than willing to be the first to sacrifice for the movement, the leader is one who has undoubting faith in the reasons and basis of the movement (Perry & Wise, 1990).

The leader chooses to become the spokesperson and spearhead of the movement and willingly takes part in any activity that can bring the movement closer to its objectives. The leader in this case is generally experiencing one of two states. Either the leader is the founder of the movement and chooses to be the first to raise his/her voice against or for something that the leader believes in or the leader is representing a large number of people who share a uniform ideology on a particular issue (Perry & Wise, 1990). It is apparent that in both cases, the leader is being motivated by a desire to bring about a change in the external surroundings. The scenario in both the cases is one that is based on the development of the leader through external stimuli.

The leader is encouraged by the surrounding environment to take an extraordinary stand that can serve as an example for others to follow. The encouragement for the leader in this case can be the desire to remove the presence of an unwanted element or to bring about a change that incorporates the augmentation of a desired element into the scenario at hand (Williams & Miller, 2002). Therefore to the leader in this case, the source of motivation is the state of the surroundings.

If one was to bring the focus of the discussion to that found in an organizational context in which the employees of an organization are intent on carrying out tasks and making an effort in order to facilitate the achievement of the objectives of the organization, the context becomes somewhat different. In this case, the leader in most cases is provided with the cause needed to derive motivation for or from. Unlike the leader found in the context of the revolutionary movement, the leader in a formal organization is generally assigned tasks that are in line of the objectives of the organization.

The leader has to either develop the required motivation or has to be provided with the desired level of motivation needed to carry out the task at hand. Thorough knowledge of the task at hand plays an imperative role in this regard since a leader, if not fully aware of the intricacies and attributes of the task at hand, cannot be expected to be fully confident. It is essential to highlight at this point that training plays an undeniably important role in this area of discussion.

When training an employee to be an able leader and attempting to hone an employee’s skills, talents and abilities into one that can be found in a successful leader, it is recommended to adopt an approach that takes a comprehensive and thorough outlook towards the employees in the organization (Clark, 2008). This is because of the fact that in order for an organization to carry out a successful training and motivating of a leader, the leader has to be given a reason to inspire other employees in an organization and this leads us to the necessity of establishing a justifiable, legitimate and worthwhile cause that the leader can be assigned to.

Unless and until this essential factor is given the due regard it merits, one can hardly expect the leader to stay motivated at a level that is continuous and can be expected to yield results.

In this regard, in order to make the effects of the motivation more prolonged and effective a training approach should be adopted that allows the motivated frame of mind to become a consistent outlook towards the organization and the related tasks.

The leader requires continuous exposure to training as well as constant subjection to coaching and modeling in order to develop motivated behavioral characteristics that can show outcomes in during interactions that constitute the leader’s day to day activities (Clark, 2008). The development of a dynamically motivated leader allows for the leader to become capable of motivating subsequent employees in the organization.

When motivating leaders or choosing from a group of employees to select one that can be motivated to extents such that the employee takes on the role and responsibilities of a leader, it is essential to determine the nature of the leader being motivated. In certain cases, the leader is one who is essentially an inspirer (Billé, 2007). He is bold in his expression and does not falter or hesitate in expressing his opinion, breaking the ice or suggesting out of the box ideas.

The inspirer, in order to be motivated into a complete leader is one who generally comes forth in his full form because of consistent encouragement through direct communication and an ample supply of opportunities and instances to express thoughts, ideas, concerns and opinions(Billé, 2007). This leader in turn realizes confidence and respect in the element of taking the bold risk of being the first to put forth a proposition that my unorthodox or unfamiliar when considered with regard to the circumstances at hand. By doing so, the leader manages to inspire and instill a desire in others to take part in discussions and to think boldly.

It is equally imperative to realize that one finds motivation to take a stand and to step forth when he or she sees their ideas or suggestions being put into action. When an individual observes that suggestions or ideas that were given by the individual at one point are being given regard and are being brought into use wherever required, the individual is motivated to step forth readily and without any hesitation when the need for another idea or suggestion is required(Billé, 2007). Eventually the individual acquires a degree of confidence, self-reliance, poise and assurance that hones the individual into a leader to whom the surrounding people can look to in times when a solution to a problem is required.

The other potential leader is one who is a doer. This potential leader is one who is not as vocal or as extroverted as the inspirer but does not think twice before delving into a task or a problem (Billé, 2007). The doer is the first to take on a task at hand and once assigned responsibility, explores every detail of the task no matter how intricate or seemingly unimportant it is.

The doer is recognized for immediate and convincing action taken at times when others are either lost in doubt or too hesitant to make a decision. In order for one to be motivated to an extent where a leader chooses to become a doer, it is imperative to provide the leader with the authenticity of purpose that the leader can have faith in (Billé, 2007). Once the subject has developed a considerable degree of faith and belief in the authenticity and needs for a task to be performed, the person will eventually choose to take on an aggressive persona towards the problem at hand and will actively engage in the carrying out of the process associated with the resolution of the problem.

In order for an employee to be motivated in a manner such that the employee can be expected to carry out the responsibilities of a leader, it is primarily essential to realize the position of the employee in the organization as well as the people who the employee shall be expected to lead. Needless to say, a leader cannot be expected to lead without having a set of people to motivate. In this regard, it is essential to note the relation between the potential leader and the personnel who the leader shall be expected to lead. In order to do so, the potential leader has to be provided with a complete understanding of or the resources and time to acquire an understanding of the nature of the potential followers so as to prepare and adjust for them accordingly.

An individual can be motivated to be a leader if the individual experiences the elements of encouragement, involvement, personal regard and reward. If an individual is continuously encouraged, they are able to find a channel through which he or she can express his or her ideas. Regardless of the position of the individual in the organization or in the society, continuous encouragement is an undeniably essential factor in the motivation of an individual to become a leader. However, it is undeniable that at one point or the other, the individual may not always come forth with an idea or suggestion that is best suited to the situation (D & B, 2009). It is at this point where the individual can either withdraw from taking on a leadership role or can continue to strengthen the role of the leader depending upon the nature of the response that the individual is given.

Another essential element that serves to dictate the degree of motivation that an individual undergoes in order to become a leader in the degree of involvement that the individual experiences in the scenario. If the individual experiences a degree of involvement that resembles ostracization, there is hardly any chance that the individual will seek to take on the role of a leader since the scenario will not be welcoming but may appear to be hostile towards new outlooks, approaches or suggestions.

In this regard, the individual can also experience motivation to lead by the desire to attain a reward for the rendered services. The reward for an individual for stepping forth and taking the position of a leader can be the attainment of an objective or a more tangible one such as a remuneration of sorts.

Also, it is just as imperative for an individual to be duly informed about the circumstances at hand in order to develop a desire and motivation to lead. In fact, it is through a continuous acquisition and analysis of information that the individual will be able to reach a decision about the state of affairs (D & B, 2009). In cases where the individual is misinformed or does not have access to the necessary information, the chances that individual will reach an appropriate decision fall short of the requirement in which case the individual becomes reluctant to lead.

An equally imperative element comes into play when an individual is observing the surroundings for responses to determine whether or not the active engagement on the part of the individual is being recognized. If the individual is not experiencing recognition, the intention to lead may change into the intention to get noticed or to withdraw altogether, hence compromising the intention to set an example of leadership. Feedback therefore is of the essence in the motivation of an individual to become a leader. It is imperative to note at this point that the feedback does not necessarily have to be positive since a negative feedback may serve as a critical appraisal of sorts and may assist in the further motivation of the individual (D & B, 2009). It is the recognition that is of concern in this case.

An individual may attempt to take on the role and responsibilities of a leader if the individual is assigned responsibilities that supplement decision making authority. In scenarios such as these, the authority and responsibility come into play together and put the individual in a position where the individual chooses to initiate measures and discussions that can be of assistance in the resolution of the problem for which the concern has been raised and the responsibility has been assigned.

In all the instances discussed however, it is imperative to observe that there is an element of relation that remains present uniformly throughout. In none of the circumstances, styles or approaches to the development of motivation towards leadership is the individual detached from or an alien to the scenario but can be found to be a member upon whom the implications of the measures to be taken can fall. It is therefore reasonable to conclude that in order for an individual to be motivated such that he or she steps up to become a leader, the individual has to be either directly or indirectly but necessarily effected by the scenario.

The individual can belong to any social setting on any level of formality or informality but when the question arrives upon the factors that come into play when the individual has to be motivated to lead, the requirement is that of consistency and encouragement from the surroundings. In scenarios where the individual does not experience any of the discussed factors, there is a significant possibility that the individual may acquire a less effective or less recognizable degree of motivation to engage in leadership.


We can infer from the above discussion that in order for an individual to be motivated, the primary need is that of a direction that can the individual can consider to be essential enough to devote time and energy to. Once a direction has been established, it is essential for the individual to be subjected to circumstances that cause the individual to take a step that others are hesitant to take. The motivation at this point can be one that is based on the desire to change something for the better or to find a resolution to a problem that is causing unwanted and adverse implications to be observed.

Reference List

Ackoff, R. L. (2005). What Constitutes Leadership and Why it Can’t be Taught. Handbook of Business Strategy , 193-196.

Billé, C. (2007). Train the Leader. Web.

Clark, D. (2008). Leadership Competency Model. Web.

Cooley, T. (2008). The Leadership Vacuum. Web.

D & B. (2009). Bring Out the Leader in Each Employee. Web.

Heller, R. (2006). Business Competition: The new Challenges and Challengers in the Business Revolution. Web.

Northouse, P. (2007). Leadership: Theory and Practice. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.

Parks, S. D. (2005). Leadership can be Taught: A Bold Approach for a Complex World. Watertown: Harvard Business Press.

Perry, J. L., & Wise, L. R. (1990). The Motivational Bases of Public Service. Public Administration Review , 367-373.

Williams, G., & Miller, R. (2002). Change the Way You Persuade. Harvard Business Review, 1-9.

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