18 April 2021
Motivation is instrumental to stimulate employees to act or perform better. Figure 1 reminds leaders and organisations that the lower-order needs, are required before the motivation rises to a higher-order. Being innate and comprehensible to apply, it resonates in our daily lives. In most cases, managers and organisation focuses on the lower levels but stops at psychological and self-fulfilling needs (Pierr 2015).
In the case Lim Hock Chee, CEO of Sheng Siong Supermarkets who strives to make employee’s job meaningful and prospects for hardworking staff to reach self-actualisation through bursary awards for their children’s education, and scholarships for part-time degree programmes (Jeanette, 2021).
The Vroom’s expectancy as illustrated in figure 2, correlates efforts and performance positively, favourable performance will result in a desirable reward, and rewards will assure an important need, the yearning to gratify the need, justifies the efforts to be meaningful. In the example of Sheng Siong, the leadership team has been fair in their remunerations in the past and the employees knew if they working hard, they will be rewarded fairly with a deserving bonus (Jeanette, 2021).
Leaders will apply various styles that addresses these motivation elements to influence the behaviours of employees to act or behave in a particular way. These motivations are crucial to the organisation success where leaders foster and observe (Evans, 1970).
Power and control
Figure 3 illustrates the five forms of power identified by French and Raven where leaders will exert their influence through these powers to inspire and motivate (Lunenberg, 2012).
Transformational leadership to inspire trust and loyalty
Transformational leadership style motivates to innovate and influence employees to perform independently. Its characteristic includes openness, agreeableness, consciousness, and extraversion (Kunert & Lewis, 1987). They assert their referent personal powers and expertise as seen in figure 3 to inspire and motivate employees. Figure 4 illustrates the 4 traits of transformational leadership that influence employee motivation, inspire trust, and loyalty at work.
The story of Anthony Tan, CEO of Grab is inspiring and built the first decacom in South East Asia with a valuation of more than US10 billion in less than a decade. He has partaken in various corporate social activities but the most prominent is working with Microsoft to reskilling of the drivers (Eamon 2020) and raising funds for children with cancer (Milad 2021). He is also known as charismatic leader who facilitates a positive foundation for creativity and innovation which is highly motivational for the organization. Anthony is an extraordinary change agent and will be able to reinvent an entire organisation and even how the society is commuting and living today. Anthony is an extraordinary change agent and will be able to reinvent an entire organisation and even how the society is commuting and living today.
Charismatic leadership inspires creativity and innovation.
Max Weber developed the charismatic leadership theory and asserts it’s exemplary and distinctive character to influence the followers. The leader is dissimilar to ordinary men and treated as endowed with superhuman, or exceptional powers and qualities (Conger & Kanungo, 1994). Research done by Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner, discovers that the exemplary leader portrays 5 core practises as depicted and explained in figure 5 based on the example of Grab leadership. (Jim & Barry 2012). As we see from figure 1 when the team reaches self-actualisation, they own self-confidence, assertiveness, and a sense of purpose and vision. Anthony inspires his team to be creative and innovative and is reflected in these 5 core practices.
Effective leaders, synergises motivation, power and his traits as seen in figure 3 and the example of outcome as reflected in figure 5.
After 2 decades managing teams in the security industry across Asia Pacific, I come to see how it has always been structured and process driven. The fixed processes and procedures made me a transactional leader. On the other hand, when it comes to security strategies such as training programmes or electronic security installations, transactional leadership kicks in to motivate and extract the best ideas from the team.
Hence, I reflect upon myself that effective leadership cannot be stifled to just one idiosyncrasy such as transactional or transformational to impact an individual’s motivation in the workforce. Leaders must also be versatile to apply the correct leadership traits to achieve the objectives of the organisation or situation to motivate people. More importantly, no amount of leadership style is relevant if the basics of motivation are not addressed. Transformational leadership as I have seen in my industry, is not something can be applied during a crisis or time constrained objectives.
Brian, T. (2014) Leadership. NY: Amacom.
Conger, J. & Kanungo, R. (1994) Charismatic Leadership in Organizations. Journal of Organisational Behavior, Volume 15, pp. 439-452.
Eamon , B. (2020) Fortune: CEO Anthony Tan says Grab is partnering with Microsoft to reskill drivers. [Online]
Available at: <https://fortune.com/2020/10/27/grab-microsoft-reskill-drivers-singapore/>
[Accessed 18 April 2021].
Evans, M. (1970) Leadership and Motivation: A Core Concept. The Academy of Management Journal, 13(1), pp. 91-102.
Jeanette, T. (2021) The philosophies of Sheng Siong CEO Lim Hock Chee: Lead from the heart, find the right people & share wealth freely. [Online]
Available at: < https://mothership.sg/2021/03/lessons-on-leadership-lim-hock-chee-sheng-siong-interview/>
[Accessed 12 April 2021 2021].
Jim, K. & Barry, P. (2012) The Leadership Challenge. 5 ed. New York: Wiley.
Kunert, K. & Lewis, P. (1987) Transactional and Transformational Leadership. Academy of Management, 12(4), pp. 648-657.
Lunenberg, F. (2012) Power and Leadership. International Journal of Management, Business and administration, 15(1).
Milad, H. (2021) Grab CEO goes bald for children with cancer, raises over RM600,000, Kuala Lumpur: Malay Mail.
Pierr, P. (2015) Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs : Gain Vital Insights into How to Motivate People. Brussels: Lemaitre.