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Week 3 Discussion
Motivation and Empowerment
Leaders must often motivate team members to perform at their optimal levels and remain engaged. Motivation can be broken down into two types of motivators–internal and external or intrinsic and extrinsic. Given what you are learning in this class, write a paper describing a system designed for motivation and empowerment in your organization. In your assessment address the following questions:
What would you do to make your team members excited about the work?
Find some examples of each type of motivator, and which is more powerful for leaders to use?
Based on your experiences in teams or organizations, which types of motivators are used most often?
Motivating Team Members
If leadership is about in�uencing others, then our study of leadership must include exploring
motivation. How do we motivate others to buy into our vision for change? How do we motivate others
to follow our lead? It’s a good question; however, the answer is not a simple one.
Motivation refers to the internal or external forces, which stimulate passion and drive causing one to
take a particular action or seek to accomplish a certain goal (Daft, 2011). However, as a leader it is
often a challenge to determine what those internal and external forces are as they can vary from
person to person. How does one determine the best way to motivate a team when there are so many
variables? One key is through relationship.
Leaders must develop a relationship with team members and create an environment where their
contributions are valued. Research has shown that employees who do not have a connection to their
leader and their team members are less motivated and are less committed to the achieving the team or
company’s goals (Krueger & Kellham, 2005). According to Gallup research, the most motivated and
engaged employees are those whose strengths are closely aligned with their roles (Coffman &
Gonzalez-Molina, 2002). Therefore, leaders must talk to team members often to determine what
matters most to them and to learn what employees may need in order to be the most productive in
Traditional studies of motivation include reviewing classic theories such as Maslow’s (1970) hierarchy
of needs, Herzberg’s (1974) two-factor theory, McClelland’s (1962) work, reinforcement theories, and
expectancy and equity theories. All of these theories are important to understand as they give rise to
understanding human needs and behavioral motivation. However, many organizations today are
making the shift to empowering employees to make a number of the day-to-day decisions themselves.
So, what is empowerment and why is it so effective? Empowerment means that leaders release some
of their power and pass it on to team members to make decisions as it relates to their work. It gives
employees more control over their day-to-day works tasks and eliminates the need for them to ask for
permission prior to making key decisions.
Empowerment is the opposite of micro-management, which entails having a manager constantly
looking over your shoulder and providing input. Typically, micro-managers prefer that employees run
everything by them before making any decisions. This can breed distrust and does not help motivate
Successfully empowering team members requires trust and increased communication. Leaders cannot
successfully empower employees if they do not trust that they have the skills or abilities to make key
decisions. On the other hand, team members must believe that leadership supports them and that they
will not be punished harshly for making a mistake. It will take time to develop this level of trust so
leaders must allow time for employees to make the adjustment.
Osborne and Plastrik (2000) provided the following four keys to increasing employee empowerment:
Clearly communicate how their roles and activities support the organization’s goals;
Make all relevant information readily available and easy to access;
Ensure that all employees have the skills and knowledge necessary to be successful in making
substantive decisions; and
Provide rewards and recognition for a job well done.
Following these steps will not only increase trust, but will increase productivity, which will have a
positive impact on the organization’s bottom line. By increasing employee empowerment, leaders can
create work environments that enable employees to �ourish. Finally, empowerment is a powerful and
inexpensive way to improve an organization’s potential for success.
Teams and Relationships
As a leader in business, you will more than likely have the opportunity to work with teams. Team-based
environments are common in organizations today. In today’s global environment, virtual or distributed
teams are frequently used to bridge personnel from different cultures, geographies, and time zones.
Teams are most successful when led by those familiar with and competent at leading teams.
Let’s take a look at key questions to answer when designing a team.
1. Task Analysis – answers the questions:
a. What work needs to be done?
b. How much authority does the team have to do its own work?
c. What is the degree of interdependence between team members?
d. Are team members’ interests competitive or collaborative?
2. People – answers the questions:
a. How many people should be on the team?
b. Who is best suited to do the work?
c. What technical and social skills are required?
d. What type of diversity is optimal for the team?
3. Processes/Procedures – answers these questions:
a. What are the explicit norms/rule for the group?
b. How much structure is given to the group?
c. What are the implicit norms that the group requires for optimal performance?
d. How will ineffective norms be revised?
Some argue that not group called a team is actually a team. Rather, it is a group of people until they are
fully functioning and working cohesively toward a common goal. In order to get to that point, teams
typically go through what has been described as a �ve-or six-stage process. Consistent with everything
that we have been learning in this class, the role of a leader is to create strong relationships with the
team members so that together, as a team, they can achieve their individual and organizational goals.
To achieve this, the leader can follow these ten guiding principles.
Coffman, C. & Gonzalez-Molina, G. (2002). Follow this path: How the world’s greatest organizations
drive growth by unleashing human potential. New York, NY: Warner Books.
Daft, R. L. (2011). The leadership experience (5th ed.). Mason, OH:
Herzberg, F. (1974). Motivation-hygiene pro�les. Organizational
Dynamics, 3(2), 18–29.
Krueger, J. & Kellham, E. (2005). At work feeling good matters; happy employees are better equipped
to handle workplace relationships, stress and change according to the latest GMJ survey [Electronic
version]. Gallup Management Journal. Retrieved from
Maslow, A. (1970). Motivation and personality (2nd ed.). Boston, MA:
Harper & Row.
McClelland, D. C. (1962). Business drive and national achievement.
Harvard Business Review, 40(4), 99–112.
Osborne, D., & Plastrik, P. (2000). The reinventor’s �eld book: Tools for transforming your government.
New York: Jossey-Bass.
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Ten Guiding Principles
To Build Leadership and Stronger Relationships
Let nature take its course: Nature has gifted all of us with different skills and talents. So as a leader, try to
utilize the undiscovered strengths and talents of people. Focus on improving behaviors for peak
performance and productivity.
Care about those you coach: Discover a reason to care about each and every person that you lead.
Appreciate and value differences: Respect those you lead. Understand that people are just as they
should be—perfect versions of themselves. Different people have different values. The leader should
respect and appreciate the positive values among the team members.
Treat others as you would like to be treated: If you expect trust from your subordinates, then respect and
support them. Practice the golden rule.
Share your human side: By exposing your vulnerabilities to others, you expose natural opportunities for
growth. After all, you’re only human like those you lead. When you share your human side, you build
genuine, long-lasting relationships.
Practice consideration: Say what you mean with due consideration for feelings of others. When you are
honest, your credibility increases.
Use simple, effective tools to assess and validate what people need: Help others to quickly assess what
they need and validate their opinions. Help them to measure their performance and offer positive
Encourage continuous self-improvement: Inspire others to become intentional learners and continually
seek self-directed learning tools for personal growth.
Use the power of partnerships to build teams: Partner with employees for long-term success. Partners
build stronger teams because everybody is committed. The strength of your relationships will help resolve
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© 2013 South University
Set clear performance objectives and expectations: Let people know exactly what you expect from them.
Ask what they expect from you. Be specific and communicate clearly and consistently.
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© 2013 South University
Forming is the first phase. I call that the “touchy feely” phase. It is at this point where members new to
each other are scoping each other out. The questions most often asked in the minds of members of, for
example, a school project are “Who do I have on my team?” “Is there anyone really smart that will be of
great value to getting a good grade?” “Is there someone who is going to drag the team down or ride on
the good work of others?” This stage of uncertainty is also the time when the purpose of the team is
discussed and what needs to get done.
Storming is the second phase. Many people can identify with this phase as is it often the most noticeable
to the casual observer of behavior. This phase is characterized by conflict; conflict that sometimes can
prevent the team from moving forward and being successful unless the team is aware of how natural it is
to go through this phase and how to successfully manage through it. It is during this stage that roles are
fought for, leaders emerge, and the direction of the team becomes more clear.
Norming is the next phase. I often refer to this phase as the cheerleading or the “rah rah” phase. This
stage is characterized with a great sense of unity and cohesiveness. Members at this stage rarely conflict
and enjoy the sense of camaraderie and group membership. So far, we have yet to operate as a fully
team. At forming we do not know enough to be fully functioning. At storming we do not have everyone on
board rowing in the same direction. At norming we can be so blinded by our cohesiveness that something
we did not think of can come up and sink the boat. However, well-led teams eventually get to the
It is at this point that the primary focus of all members is on achieving the goals of the team. It is at this
stage that differences of opinion are well used to solve problems effectively. Since many teams in
organizations today are developed for achieving a task within a specific time frame, our model can have
one last phase; adjournment.
This, of course, is the final step in member closure and moving on to other work.
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