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(I just found this as I was looking through some old files...this is one of my favorite topics...actually, it is two topics: motivation and leadership, but they are both fascinating and apply directly to our success in life!)


Although there is an immense amount of interest in leadership, research continues to find new ideas and method. One area of study is that of motivational leadership. The intent of this paper is to demonstrate how the leader motivates his organization. The difference between managing and leading is discussed, as well as components of motivation. An emphasis is placed on motivation in the business sector with comparisons on how to incorporate those precepts into the home organization.

Motivational leadership for business and home

Motivation effectiveness is a critical determinant of both the individual performance of a leader and the performance of the organization. For many leaders, future success will come from knowing the difference between leading and managing. Motivational leadership requires many character traits and skills. This paper discusses those traits and skills and their application to the business and home environments.

Difference between leadership and managing

Webster describes motive as “n1: something (as a need or desire) that leads or influences a person to do something.” This is the true essence of leadership: to lead, to influence a person (or organization) to do something (Webster, 1978).

On the other hand, manage is described by Webster as “1: to oversee and make decisions about: direct”. He also uses the words: “handle, manipulate, and contrive”. There is a significant difference between the two (Webster, 1978).

Kotter (1996) addresses the difference between leadership and management; he observes that the key is focus. Both are necessary, they simply have different tasks to perform (Kotter, 1996).

He notes that the wise leader or manager has read and studied many options, he or she has prepared, and they have thought out in their minds the consequences of their actions. They are disciplined and usually have surrounded themselves with people of varying viewpoints in order that they may see things from many perspectives (Kotter, 1996).

However, when the crisis comes, the difference between management and leadership stands out. The leader takes a stand, and holds on to it. Critics do not matter; friends are unimportant; leaders, through their discipline, have learned that in time others will see the validity of their decision and will change their opinions or drift to another arena (Kotter, 1996).

Kotter notes that more important than managing change is leading change, because positive change cannot be accomplished without leadership. Change occurs and the organization does not stand still. An organization or person will always be progressing or digressing. Therefore, to initiate good change, or to transform an organization, the change must be lead (Kotter, 1996).

Senge, Kleiner, Roberts, Ross, Roth, and Smith (1999) point out that processes themselves are not effective change agents, although many times it is a process that is frustrating the organization. When the process is corrected, change for the good can happen. Hence, in managing the growth processes of organizations profound change takes place.

They note too, that top-down change is preferable, but that bottom-up can work also. In an environment that encourages growth, both should be combined to help and profit each other. This is where leadership has to work, though, for they set the stage either for dominion or for positive change.

Managing and leadership in the home organization

In the home, the leadership must come from the top (the parents) if the home organization is to succeed. However, the top management must be responsive to the needs of their employees (the children) if any change is to be enacted. If not, there will be dominion resulting in rebellion: passive or active (Dobson, 1992).

The parent must be an effective manager as well as a leader. Parent as manager plans, organizes, and runs an effective organization. Processes are refined so that valuable time can be spent with the employees in educational, character-building activities. In this aspect, the parent becomes a leader, demonstrating through word and deeds the qualities of leadership. These qualities are responsibility, integrity, and self-discipline. The parents also show leadership when making unpopular decisions, or when disciplining their employees. Too many parents want to be friends with their children so they do not demonstrate leadership. In the final analysis, they have lost their child’s friendship, for they have lost their respect (Dobson, 1992).

Both Kotter and Senge observe that for change to be effective, members of the organization must develop positive attitudes toward the change. Parents must have the trust and respect of each other and of their children in order to develop this attitude. This truly is more important than love, and is the core of true leadership.

In the home as well as the business world, the skills of both management and leadership are needed for a successful organization, but this paper will concentrate on the principle of leadership, focusing on motivation.

The study of motivation

The study of motivation has discovered methods that have included physical domination, manipulation, guilt tactics, and appeals to self-interest. On the other end of the spectrum, there are encouragement, enthusiasm, incentive, and praise.

One example of leadership motivation occurs when a leader tries to modify behavior. Anything that will produce or reinforce positive behavior is utilized. By a reward-and-punishment system of positive and negative reinforcements, one person tries to change another person’s desire to do something (Thompson, 1991, p. 43). This type of motivation is prevalent in the home organization, educational establishments, and the business world.

Problems in the business sector such as: poor employee morale due to inferior leadership, lack of employee motivation, adverse employee equity perception due to low wages, incorrect job design, and the wrong style of leadership for the type of employee, are all problems that can be corrected by the proper use of this motivational technique (Blanchard & Hersey, 1996).

A common example of this is when employees are rewarded on company performance. Two of the ways in which organizations can reward employees financially based on company performance "are through profit sharing and employee stock ownership plans, known as ESOPs. Other rewards include the sharing of information and power" (Daft, 1998, p.451-2).

Activators, behaviors, and consequences in the business organization

The ABCs of management are a simple solution to the problems of poor employee morale and perception. The first step is composed of activators, which are the things the management has to do before they can expect above standard performance. Many companies and leaders have much to do in this first area. Their attitude, their lack of desire to retain employees, and so forth will all have to change before they can expect change from their employees (Blanchard & Hersey, 1996).

B is for behavior. The management desires this performance. In most of their activities, managers try to influence the performance behavior of others. They do so primarily with activators- that is, before behavior- or with consequences- that is, after behavior.

Consequences are what follow behavior. Although goal setting can set the stage for good performance, it does little to insure that the desired performance will continue.

The only consequence that tends to increase the frequency of behavior is a positive consequence. Yet, the two most frequent responses people consistently get to their performance are negative responses and no responses (Blanchard & Hersey, 1996, pp. 418-420).

Since motivation/behavior/performance stem from both activators and consequences, leaders need to adopt positions on both sides and then enact the necessary changes. This in turn should bring about the desired changes for both the management and the employees (Blanchard & Hersey, 1996).

Activators, behaviors, and consequences in the home organization

According to Dr. James Dobson (1992), the best activator in the home is spending time with your children, having fun together and enjoying mutual laughter and joy before disciplinary problems occur. When those moments of love and closeness happen children are not as tempted to challenge and test the limits.

Many confrontations can be avoided by building friendships with children and thereby making them want to cooperate at home. He notes too, that anger is a poor motivator and that discipline, as a consequence, should be administered quickly, calmly, and fairly.

Motivation through pay raise allocation

Another factor of reward and punishment systems is motivation through the use of pay raise allocation. This system is used extensively in the home and the business world.

"Merit-based pay plans are by far the easiest to administer and control. In these programs, performance is assessed at the end of the fiscal year via subjective ratings of employees made by supervisors. In addition, at the end of the year, a fixed sum of money is allocated to wage increases. This sum is distributed to individuals in amounts proportional to their performance ratings" (Hollenbeck, 1998, p. 96).

This sounds fine, but how do you distribute the money so that each year the system will be fair? The leader or manager who is not fair will lose credibility, which according to Chowdhury (2000) is the foundation of leadership.

"In designing merit-based programs, there are three major considerations. First, what will the average performer receive? Many firms try to make sure that average performers are at least able to keep up with inflation" (Hollenbeck, 1998, p. 96).

This category would include those employees that were rated highly by the supervisor, but poorly by their peers, or just the opposite; the supervisor rates them poorly, while the other workers highly regard them. For these differences, these employees belong in the average group.

"Second, what will a poor performer receive? Is it in the best interest of the firm to allow the wage increases of poor performers to slip below the inflation level? If so, how much damage does the firm wish to inflict on low performers? How replaceable are these people if they are prompted to leave the firm?” (Hollenbeck, 1998, p. 97).

"Finally, how much will high performers receive?” (Hollenbeck, 1998, p.97) This category is for those who were rated highly by both peers and supervisors.

The most difficult aspect of this type of reward system is that the ratings are subjective. That is why it is also wise to have peer ratings as well.

However, are merit-based programs the answer? Does money really motivate? Moreover, if it does for a while, will it be effective in the long run?

The overwhelming answer is yes and no. Money, depending on the circumstance can be a powerful motivator, but for achievers, there is a tool that is even more effective; power (Daft, 1998).

Power as a tool of motivation

Power is another tool of motivation and can be either a deterrent or an activator depending on its use. “Bureaucratic control is the use of rules, policies, hierarchy of authority, written documentation, standardization, and other bureaucratic mechanisms to standardize behavior and assess performance (Daft, 1998, p. 348).

Problems that arise from the incorrect use of power are: lack of information control, uncertainty of procedures and rules, how to enact them, or how they should be enforced. In addition, conflict between staff and management, especially when management has taken no official stand (Daft, 1998).

When asked to define power, some would define it "as the ability to influence the behaviors of others, getting them to do the things they would not otherwise do.” Others would say it is "the ability to avoid other's attempts to influence one's behavior" (Hollenbeck, 1998, p. 246).

Both of these views of power are at play at most companies. The management usually has failed miserably in their attempts to influence behavior and the staff has used their power to avoid making any changes (Hollenbeck, 1998).

Most times, too, staff is also uncertain as to what is desired of management and needs more information and direction as to the practice of policies and procedures. Therefore, management needs to assess its use of power and change the form. They also need to be aware of giving staff needed empowerment, training, and consistency to make the desired changes (Hollenbeck, 1998).

Management needs to "use power to accomplish organizational goals instead of using it to satisfy personal interests. Coach subordinates and use empowering, influence-sharing management techniques rather than autocratic, authoritarian methods” (Hollenbeck, 1998, p. 246).

Most of all, management should be in agreement as to the compatibility of practices and policies, and they should have a consistent official stand and vision that are enforceable and informative (Hollenbeck, 1998).

Being consistent is key to motivational leadership

The key word is consistent, but it must be credible. Chowdhury (2000) notes that people want to believe in their leaders. They want to have faith and confidence in them as people. They want to believe that their word can be trusted, and that they are personally excited and enthusiastic about the direction in which all are headed.

Whether it is parenting, managing a small organization, leading a Fortune 500 company, or volunteering in the community, for one to be an effective instrument, one must be consistent and credible (Crowdhury, 2000).

Maslow (1970) states:

Current conceptions of motivation proceed ordinarily, or at least seem to proceed, on the assumption that a motivational state is a special, a peculiar state, sharply marked off from the other happenings in the organism. Sound motivational theory should, on the contrary, assume that motivation is constant, never ending, fluctuating, and complex, and that it is an almost universal characteristic of practically every organismic state of affairs (Maslow, 1970, p. 24).

Another character trait that must be consistent is self-control. For example, a lousy manager or parent may be consistently angry, or consistently authoritative. In this case, consistency is certain, as his or her employees or children always know what to expect, but this does not make him or her effective. He or she must develop a sense of balance and there must be a temperance of “over control, parochialism, orthodoxy, and cynicism” (Champy & Nohria, 2000, p. 14).

Ambition stems from motivation and one trait of achievers is that they have not lost their imagination, nor their optimism. They are able to see what others do not, unhindered by fear of obstacles or disbelief.

Situation theory of motivational behavior

Many claim that the situation or environment in which they find themselves is the deciding factor. It must be noted that human motivation rarely actualizes itself in behavior except in relation to the situation and to other people. This fact, of course, must be taken into account of its effect on the role of cultural determination (Maslow, 1970).

However, one must be careful “against too great preoccupation with the exterior, with the culture, the environment, or the situation. Our central object of study here is, after all, the organism or the characters structure. It is easy to go to the extreme in situation theory of making the organism just one additional object in the field, equivalent with perhaps a barrier, or some object that he tries to obtain.

One must remember that the individual partly creates his barriers and his objects of value, that they must be defined partially in terms set by the particular organism in the situational. I know of no way of defining or describing a field universally in such a way that this description can be independent of the particular organism functioning within it. It certainly must be pointed out that a child who is trying to attain a certain object of value to him, but who is restrained by a barrier of some sort, determines not only that the object is of value, but also that the barrier is a barrier. Psychologically there is no such thing as a barrier; there is only a barrier for a particular person who is trying to get something that he wants (Maslow, 1970, p. 24).

This definition of what constitutes a barrier is really what sets the leader apart from the follower, the optimist from the pessimist, the achiever from the failure. Persistence is critical, because as barriers present themselves (real or imagined) one must have the courage and determination to continue the struggle.

How then, does the leader overcome the barriers of his followers? For in doing so, he helps them to see what he envisions, the possibility of success that for the moment is obstructed from their view.

Steps of change applied to the home organization

There are several steps of change that apply directly to leadership in the home organization. The first of which is to improve systematically, which means to step-by-step correct and adjust the organization. Drucker (2001, p. 2) notes that, "whatever an enterprise does, both internally and externally, needs to be improved systematically and continually: the product or service, the production processes, marked technology, the training and development of people, and the use of information."

Any yet, how many parents think in those terms regarding the home? If a home’s service or product is to raise useful, productive citizens what is being done to improve the service? Are production processes reviewed in the home or haphazardly performed? Technology? Is it monitored to ensure that it is being used to enhance performance or is it a mindless, time-wasting tool that depletes and corrupts the organization?

The training and development of people is perhaps the top priority of this organization and yet the leaders of the home neglect to use information in such a way that benefits their followers (Dobson, 1992).

Balance, change, and continuity are vital to the home. Drucker (2001, p. 5) points out that "people need continuity. They need to know where they stand. They need to know the people they work with. They need to know the values and the rules of the organization. They do not function well when the environment is not predictable, not understandable, not known".

This is how the home can provide stability although increasing global and societal pressures are damaging the family structure. The home organization, just as any other organization that wishes to survive, must prepare for necessary change now. Boundaries should be established and the home leader must learn to view the home unit in a new reality, as the vital organization of change that it is (Dobson, 1992).

Learning as a motivational tool

Champy & Nohria noticed that achievers “all share an insatiable appetite for learning anything they need to know, whether from other people’s successes or from their own mistakes” (Champy & Nohria, 2000, p. 65). One should learn from the mistakes of others. This is preferable to learning from one’s own errors, as the consequences are often costly and painful.

In other words, the leader helps convey this learning and study to his followers. He guides and empowers them with the knowledge necessary, so they too, can envision the objectives. This then motivates them by eliminating the obstacles that they had placed before them. Now, they see the barriers as building blocks, and not as stumbling blocks as they once had seen them.

Preparation leads to opportunity

This learning then leads to preparation. For opportunity must be seized when the moment presents itself. What may appear as foolish risks to some, are actually turned into acceptable opportunities, when an individual, a business, or an organization has acquired the proper knowledge. Preparation leads to opportunity, as the prepared is ready when the timing is right, or a choice must be made (Champy & Nohria, 2000).

Part of preparation and education is the strength of long-held moral values. These can prompt the right actions even when one might least expect it (Champy & Nohria, 2000).

For as Maslow pointed out:

Man is a wanting animal and rarely reaches a state of complete satisfaction except for a short time. As one desire is satisfied, another pops up to take its place. When this is satisfied, still another comes into the foreground, etc. It is a characteristic of the human being throughout his whole life that he is practically always desiring something (Maslow, 1970, p. 24).

Maslow then explains that we are faced with the necessity of studying the relationships of all the motivations to each other and that we must give up the idea of isolated motivational units if we are to achieve the broad understanding that we need to seek for. The motivation, the drive or desire, the actions that it arouses, and the satisfaction that comes from attaining the goal object, all taken together, give us only an artificial, isolated, single instance taken out of the total complex of the motivational unit. Maslow then continues on with his hierarchy of needs, even making the comment that we would never “desire to compose music or create mathematical systems” or so on, “if our stomachs were empty most of the time, or if we were continually dying of thirst”(Maslow, 1970, p. 24).

Honorable people throughout time have proven this part of Maslow’s theory wrong. A poignant example is of the Second World War as countless Jews, Russians, and Poles in the concentration camps and ghettos continued to share and build their talents, even in spite of hunger and thirst; the more primal needs. Excellent observation

Strength of character necessary for true leadership

Thus, the importance of true character to the motivational leader is evident. This strength of character is part of the preparation and education one must receive if one is to succeed or help others succeed. The might of character can and will lead to correct choices that will bring lasting and sustainable leadership, whether one is leading a group of fellow prisoners or the world’s most powerful country (Champy & Nohria, 2000).

Comparison of Wile E. Coyote to the Road Runner

Wile E. Coyote is preoccupied, earnest, conniving, and grim. The Road Runner is joyful, light, and free. Wile E. does nothing but go from pursuing one meal to the next, with perpetual frustration; the bird is gleefully living life to the fullest. The results are always the same: Wile E. somehow manages to dig himself into the hole of failure, while the Road Runner strides on, undeterred and unaffected by life’s bumps and obstacles (Bell & Harari, 2000, p. 7).

Bell and Harari then ask, “Are you a coyote? Or are you a roadrunner?” They point out that the coyote is mean and ruthless. He is obsessed on execution, never deviating from his plan until he reaches the last step. The coyote is sly, cunning, clever, and crafty.

On the other hand, the Road Runner is admired. He is a free spirit, marching to his own drum above the mundane, minute, and meticulous. He appears light, joyful, and seemingly fearless. He is fast, bouncy, and always looking ahead.

Contrasting sides of leadership

Both show contrasting sides of leadership. Different things also motivate them.

The coyote is simply motivated by his base desire to kill and eat the competition. His is a small narrow view of the world. It is so narrow, in fact that he is unable to adjust to his environment. He defines the game as win-lose and, sadly, becomes the loser.

The Road Runner however, cannot be dissuaded from his path, nor do the obstacles and barriers before him sway him. This is integrity (Bell & Harari, 2000).

The rest of the book is devoted to principles of leadership; leadership based on character and honor. Yet a leadership that has not forgotten or lost curiosity or laughter. Being a maverick is part of Bell and Harari’s philosophy of leadership, which goes back to their earlier point, that opportunity must be seized when the moment presents itself. As noted, one must be ready (educated in some aspect) and prepared for the change.

This concept is illustrated in the book, Who moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson. Johnson (1998) tells a story of some mice-sized men and mice that are searching for cheese within a maze. Fear paralyzes the men from first seeking new opportunity (cheese), but then one of the men ventures out into the maze and slowly discovers many precepts that change his perception of the maze.

This little man discovers such things as:

* Imagining myself enjoying new cheese even before I find it, leads me to it.

* When you see that you can find and enjoy new cheese, you change course.

* Noticing small changes early helps you adapt to the bigger changes that are to come.

The final analysis is that change happens. One should anticipate, monitor, and adapt to change (Johnson, 1998). When motivating and leading others, this is crucial to understand. People’s motivations and desires will invariably change as they progress and as past desires are met.

Herzberg (1993) wrote:

Pressures toward group identity, group thinking, and group motivation run counter to the belief that productivity is dependent upon individual motivation. Group solidarity can be a force for revolution or for balance in society.

Nevertheless, it cannot sustain productivity. In this decade of “teamwork”, management cannot afford to assume that individual competence and commitment are dispensable. Fads to help people “get along” are a poor substitute for workers and managers who know how to get the job done (Herzberg, 1993 p. 35).

Knowing how to get the job done is part of education and preparation. It is also about eliminating barriers, adapting to change, being responsible, and managing one’s power correctly (Herzberg, 1993).

Perhaps our perception of power is what affects one the most and in turn leads to benevolent or malevolent use of power. As stated earlier, leaders need to assess their use of power and give others needed empowerment, training, and consistency to help them catch the vision and make the desired changes. A leader should use power to achieve organizational goals instead of using it for personal gain (Champy & Nohria, 2000).


However, what exactly is empowerment? Daft (1998) states that empowerment is power sharing. It is the delegation of authority or power to subordinates in the organization. It means giving power to others in the organization so they can act more freely to accomplish their jobs.

How do we empower others? Little (n.d.) talks about the true nature of power and how one may draw more power to oneself.

The key is to realize that what one has in life is what one gives away. When love is given away, it is returned. The same is true of respect, praise, true concern, and genuine interest in the well-being of others.

In addition, the more that we give away power, the more that power is returned to us! This is the secret of empowering others. It also is the secret of gaining more power for oneself. All effective leaders understand this and enhance their own power by empowering their followers (providing the needed knowledge and resources with the authority to use them), i.e., by giving followers the capacity to get things done! (Little, n.d., Lesson 15, p. 2 Italics and underlining are the authors).

Therefore, true motivational leadership is based on integrity of character; of consistently persevering to reach one’s goal or vision. Moreover, of helping others in such a way that they too, develop the traits and skills necessary to succeed. Thus, in elevating others, one elevates oneself.


Bell, C. R. & Harari, O. (2000). Beep! Beep! Competing in the age of the roadrunner.New York: Warner Books.

Blanchard, K.H., Hersey, P., Johnson, D.E. (1996). Management of organizational behavior. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Champy, J. & Nohria, N. (2000). The arch of ambition.New York: Rerseus Books.

Chowdhury, S. (2000). Management 21c.London: Prentice Hall.

Daft, R. L. (1998). Organization theory and design.(6 ed.) Cincinnati, OH: Southwestern.

Dobson, J. C. (1992). Dare to discipline.Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House.

Goldhaber, G.M. (1993). Organizational communication. McGraw-Hill.

Herzberg, F. (1993). Herzberg on motivation.Cleveland, Ohio: Penton Publishing, Inc.

Hollenbeck, J. R., Wagner III, J. A. (1998). Organizational behavior. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Johnson, S. (1998). Who moved my cheese? New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons.

Kotter, J. P. (1996). Leading Change. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.

Little, L. (n.d),The True Nature of Power . Lesson 15: Lessons in Leadership.

Maslow, A.H. (1970). Motivation and personality. New York: Harper & Row.

Senge, P., Kleiner, A., Roberts, C., Ross, R., Roth, G., Smith, B. (1999). The dance of change. New York: Doubleday.

Thompson, J. (1991, Aug./Sept.) Replacing Passive Rebellion with Biblical Motivation. The Teaching Home., 43+.

Webster, D.(Ed.).(1978). Webster’s new ideal dictionary. New York: G. & C. Merriam.

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