Decision Making & Motivation
Effective leadership is the process of motivating others to meet specific objectives and to be in the situation of making significant decisions. Here, I will discuss how motivation affects leadership styles and also how imperative the decision-making process is on the leader. Personally, I feel that both of these areas of leadership are the most significant aspects, because they can make or break a leaders following. To be motivated is one thing, but to motivate others is the most powerful thing a leader can possibly do. Also, to make crucial decisions and risks for a company or group is an extremely large task, one that is 100% needed for any successful leader.
Motivation is the willingness to exert high levels of effort toward organizational goals, conditioned by the effort's ability to satisfy some individual needs (Robbins, 168). For some business analysts, employee motivation is a good way to increase productivity in an organization. When people get motivated, they will have a reason to put more efforts on what they are doing. Motivation is a crucial management tool in lifting the organization's work force. Motivation takes forms like offering rewards, improving working conditions, or employee recognition. However, which approach should employers try?
There are many different ways to motivate employees. Employers can motivate their workers as individuals, groups, teams, or the organization as a whole. Motivation takes forms like offering rewards, improving working conditions, or employee recognition. Team-based reward systems have been raised as an issue in work management areas. Many people prefer team-based reward systems to an individual approach. San Diego Business Journal, issued on Oct. 6, 1997, published an article titled "Team-Based Productivity Incentive System." This article summarized the ideas that supported the team-based approach. The author, Bob Harrington, opposed the individual reward system. As he stated, "individual reward systems create unnecessary competition and reduce cooperation between employees. It also reduces creativity because employees will only do what is necessary to get rewarded."(Harrington) Moreover, Harrington said team-based incentives influence individuals to work well together and cooperate with one another.
In looking at motivation and the various aspects that go into it, one can look at various companies to understand its significance. Personally, when I thought of motivation and leadership, I immediately thought of my International Management company I researched, Hewlett-Packard. Few business leaders get to be highly recognized names in the world at large or even the broadest business communities like the team of William Hewlett and David Packard. "In 1938 they pooled $538 to found their namesake Hewlett-Packard in a rented garage."(Blanchard, 92) Hewlett focused his energy on leading the technology side of the now $31 billion high tech leader. Packard wrestled with managing the day-to-day operation and died at the age of 83. These two people started off as regular people, but found the motivation to pool their thoughts and take a risk. Packard’s employees awarded him a M.B.W.A. Degree---"Master By Walking Around", because of his beliefs that upper management should remain close to workers. The "HP way" also strives to "maintain a small company atmosphere even as the work force expanded to 100,000."(Blanchard, 93) Employees were allowed freedom, and Internal competition was encouraged, while working toward a shared objective. Packard's commitment to employees was also legendary. "In 1990 he came out of semi-retirement to help manage a corporation that successfully averted the job losses that subsequently hit many other High tech companies."(Blanchard, 92) David Packard was truly a leader to be admired. This prompts the question "What is a good leader?"
There are many good leaders to choose from. There are military leaders, politicians, CEO's, coaches, athletes, teachers; the list is endless. One may ask what do all people from different walks of life have in common? A leader is someone who gets things accomplished by acting through others or getting people to perform to their maximum potential.
"Leaders are people who set the example and have the courage to take the initiative to dominate the situation. They are decisive, bold, tactful, and communicate very well."(Ebert, 77) They maintain enthusiasm, commitment, and devotion and are knowledgeable of their duties. Workers need more than job satisfaction and morale. They also need motivation.
There are many theories that describe the types of motivation that leaders exemplify. Motivational theories can be classified into three main categories: classical theories and scientific management; behavior theory; and contemporary motivational theories. The Behavior Theory or Hawthorne effect as it became widely known, came as a result of a study in 1925. A group of Harvard researchers began a study at the Hawthorne Works of Western Electric. They wanted to know what would happen to the workers output if they changed the physical environment. It appeared that by increasing lighting levels, productivity improved and increasing pay did not. After more research it seemed that the workers produced more according to the attention they received.
After the Hawthorne studies, more attention was placed on the importance of improving human relation skills. This resulted in more contemporary motivational theories. "Theories X and Y came as a result of behavioral scientist's Douglas McGregor's conclusion that managers viewpoints of how to use a firms human resources were radically different."(Ebert, 211) He concluded that Theory X managers believed people were naturally lazy and uncooperative and must be punished or rewarded to be made productive. Theory Y managers believe that people are naturally energetic, growth-oriented, self-motivated, and interested in being productive.
Psychologist Abraham Maslow proposed a theory of motivation describing five levels of human needs and arguing that basic needs must be fulfilled before people work to satisfy higher-level needs. The downside is that it provides few guidelines for action in the work place. Another psychologist, Frederick Herzberg concluded that hygiene factors, such as working conditions, and motivation factors, such as recognition of success made the difference in job satisfaction and dissatisfaction. Important to note was the research was limited to accountants and engineers and this theory works only in some professional settings.
Another contemporary theory is the Expectancy theory, which suggests that people are motivated to work toward what they want only if they believe they have a reasonable chance at getting it. One example is a worker may ask himself or herself, "If I work harder, will I get a pay raise?" If the answer is no, he/she won't work harder; if the answer is yes, he/she will work harder.
The Equity theory is based on people evaluating their treatment by employers relative to the treatment of others. An example is, if one employee finds out that another employee is receiving the same compensation plan as he or she is. The employee may feel equitably treated. However, if the employee finds out the package is different and the other employee is receiving more, inequity results. To restore fairness, individuals may do things such as ask for raises, reduce their efforts, or complain.
And finally, there's the Reinforcement theory, where rewards or punishment is used as a means of encouragement or discouragement. When a company pays for each piece produced or uses promotions, praise, or pay increases, this is a reward. I f an employee is constantly late or absent a lot a company may dock that individual. This is a punishment designed to change their behavior.
Now, after looking at motivation and the various theories that prove its significance in a leadership role, one can look at the uses of motivation to look into an equally serious leadership topic. This topic is decision-making, and it is perhaps the most significant trait that any successful leader needs to be a positive force.
Critical thinking styles and forces of influence in making decisions is a major portion of the manager's responsibilities. It is not an aspect that cannot be taken lightly nor can it be done in a hasty manner. Hasty, careless decisions can have devastating results on the leader and the entire company. Decisions that are made with deliberation using different kinds of processes, however, can lead the department or company to better and/or more profitable operations. When decisions are made in this manner, the leader should feel confident that he or she has made an appropriate decision and it is the best decision for the company. This does not mean to say that the leader will always make the correct decision, because often lack of information or situational changes can lead to faulty analysis. However, if the leader uses critical thinking and proven successful decision-making strategies, he or she can and should be confident in whatever action they have decided is appropriate. Their own confidence level will, in fact, affect the outcome of their action.
Leaders can be called "information workers"; a leader is a craftsperson whose raw material is information (McCall & Kaplan 16)." Leaders spend the majority of their time absorbing information and trying to process all the information in order to reach a decision of some sort or another. Within the realm of the information system a leader has many sources of where he or she may get this information, including, (a) systems and structures set up to keep them apprised on ongoing events, (b) the people around them who volunteer information and can be approached in search of trouble signs, clues, and missing pieces of puzzles, (c) the values of the organization, which point people in certain directions and define the critical variables in a complex array of possibilities, and (d) the leaders own direct experience" (McCall Kaplan, 16)
Management information systems aid a leader in developments for his or her area, which can be strength or a weakness depending on the complexity of the system. Often, managers and leaders have too much information, which can be classified as information overload. This can lead a manager to make faulty decisions based on information that is relevant to his or her judgment, but fail at investigating the information for the opposing idea or situation.
Leaders rely heavily on their employees that surround them to gather and provide them with the information needed to complete a particular scenario. Although the employees may or may not have the proper information, it is still a primary source and influence that a leader must use. Another way leaders obtain information is by the guiding values and beliefs within their organization. This contributes to a leaders separation of relevant information from irrelevant information from the perspective of the organization expectations. In addition to values and beliefs, the direct hands-on experience of a leader is a good source for obtaining necessary information. When a manager is encountered with a problem he or she has experienced before, they have firsthand information to work through the problem, as they deem necessary, because they already have the personal understanding and knowledge needed in working with the information.
A big factor in what leaders use to process the information he or she encounters relies heavily upon their cognitive process. Which, according to McCall and Kaplan is the "first step in making sense out of the information that is in front of them at the time." "Managers process information through nine different processes including: making sense of the pieces; processing only so much; simplifying the information; utilizing an emotional component; defining a reality; digging for information; knowing what one is doing; knowing one’s self; and having an open mind."(McCall & Kaplan, 78)
Another approach used to process information is the logical scientific approach. Which, according to McAulay, Russell and Sims is known as the "logico-scientific mode" of decision-making. "It is important to discover the whole truth about the situation in order to make a logical and definitive decision. This type of decision cannot be based on one's opinion or even the opinion of the team; it must be based on hard evidence"(McAulay, 32) to base decisions on personal perspectives or opinions without taking the time to analyze the situation can result in losses for the company.
One other factor that is definitely a thinking pattern and strong influence, which can affect a decision-making process, is the leaders personality. Different personality types have been related to decision-making strategies used. Waldersee and Sheather addressed this issue in a study they did. "They found that characteristics such as problem solving style, locus of control, the need for achievement, risk aversion and the degree of tolerance the manager has for ambiguity are all directly related to the strategy used to make decisions."(Waldersee 101) Personality characteristics then drive the implementation of whatever decision has been made. For example, some studies have concluded that an internal locus of control is directly linked to innovations within the company and success of the managing leaders. Other studies have linked a willingness to accept risk and a high degree of tolerance for the unknown, to being effective in building the company, but not in maintaining it at any given level. These researchers caution the reader that personality characteristics are not the only determining factors in decision making strategies; there are also the factors of experience and the inter-relationship of personality within the specific context of the situation. "Further, both the mission of the organization as a whole and the functioning of the team of which the manager is a member play a significant part in how managers will make decisions."(Ebert 97)
In conclusion there are a multitude of factors affecting the quality of decisions made by any given manager that include but are not limited to: personality characteristics, experience, the context of the situation at hand, strategies used and critical thinking and analysis. One topic not discussed at great length in this paper is the degree of confidence a manager has in the decisions he or she makes. "It is only a logical conclusion that the manager will implement decisions with an enthusiasm and dedication that is equivalent to their belief they have selected the correct action for the situation."(Waldersee, 154) If the manager follows some of the simple steps outlined and avoids the pitfalls, he or she can and should have complete confidence in the decision made. Decision-making in a business setting is perhaps the most significant aspect of a successful leader. However, without the motivation of the company and the willingness to succeed, these decisions aren’t as important. So, each of these leadership "qualities" go hand in hand. To make a decision, as a leader without motivation doesn’t work, the math doesn’t equal out. You have to have motivation to succeed and to take that certain risk that can make or break the company, knowing that if the decision was a good one, the employers will then be motivated to succeed at an even greater level. This is a huge aspect of leadership.
Looking at leadership and the topics of motivation and decision-making on a personal level, I can’t help but discuss my role as President of Sigma Chi here at Gettysburg. I took over office in October of 2000 and finished in December of 2001. In this position I had to deal with making numerous decisions, which had a very strong influence on the chapter. Not only this, but before these decisions were made, there was a discussion amongst the brotherhood where everyone contributed their various ideas on the items at hand. Starting off the term, the chapter wasn’t really motivated to change; they just wanted to stay stagnant, as the chapter had been over the past couple of years. I noticed that Sigma Chi needed to change for the better, so I did everything I could to help motivate the chapter.
This was not an easy task. First, I had to figure out what type of people I was dealing with. This was difficult, because they were my friends, not my employees which are very different than most business settings. In fact, this was an advantage for me because I was able to reach them on a personal level, while at the same time motivating them to change our "business." Personality plays a huge role in motivating people, and I feel that my personality was very helpful in helping the chapter understand that we needed to change as a whole. Gradually, throughout chapter meetings I would offer people rewards, and scholarship opportunities if they went to various social functions on campus. When, in fact I really only did this to get the name of Sigma Chi out there on the map as being a good, positive, and influential fraternity. This technique worked. When the chapter saw that there was a monetary reward or a reward of some kind, they jumped at the opportunity. Through this I realized how significant the idea of reward giving was.
I also used to acknowledge the contributions of individual brothers at each chapter meeting, as a type of honorary reward of praise. Seeing this, other brothers would step up to the plate and get involved as well. This led to a great ride in our community service participation as well as our philanthropy. Motivating the chapter wasn’t easy, but it was very exciting to do. Offering rewards helped out tremendously, which is a key element of motivation and being a true leader.
However, I found that offering team rewards, as a full chapter, was not beneficial in any way. The diffusion of responsibility was too great of a factor when offering team rewards, because the whole chapter felt as though other people would get their job done, and they would all benefit. When I tried this, the chapter was very divided and we weren’t in good standing in the eyes of the Inter-Fraternity Council and Greek System. There was no room for individual praise in team rewards, so nobody worked to make the chapter better, knowing they weren’t individually going to get any credit for their contributions. This technique didn’t work in anyway.
With all these attempts at motivating the chapter, and the success in doing so, I was in the position to make some very significant decisions. I feel that my personality greatly helped out my presidency because I was able to look into the problem. It is very difficult to have to make decisions based on the good of the chapter, as opposed to personal discrepancy. All CEO’s have to deal with this too. "Do I not want this to happen because I personally don’t want it to happen, or it isn’t in the best interest of the chapter," was what I was constantly asking myself. This is an area of leadership and decision-making that I feel is one of the more difficult. Early on I didn’t know how to differentiate the two, but later it became more clear to me.
The decisions I’m talking about are both social and political. Should we have a party tonight? Who’s going to go to workshops? When are elections? These are a few of the many decisions I dealt with as president, and they are all equally binding. If I made a mistake and permitted the chapter to have a party one night, and the house wasn’t clean for the next day inspection, then we would suffer the consequences greatly. These are the type of decisions that had to be made everyday, and now I can heavily relate to leaders who are in more serious roles. Never have I realized how much affect motivation and decision making have on leadership skills, and now I have a newfound respect for it.
In conclusion, this semester we have talked about the various aspect of leadership that makes a successful leader. Charisma was a very strong trait; integrity, confidence, self-regulation, hubris, narcissism, and being a team player were all very significant characteristics of leadership styles. However, I feel that without motivation and decision-making, these other characteristics don’t even exist. Those people that hold to their values, are objective and fair, have a concern for society, follow ethical decision rule, and communicate about their values are very strong leaders. These are the people that are the main decision makers in the business. These leaders also are the ones that are motivating themselves and the company to succeed. Leader have to be a motivated person in order to have confidence. Leaders can’t just be confident in making a decision unless they are motivated that the decision was for the common good. Leaders can’t have charisma and integrity if they aren’t able to look in the mirror and know that they are capable of making the huge decisions and motivating their co-workers. Leadership is a very important aspect of living, and being successful in these two traits is a perfect way to become a successful leader.