Stages Of Development Of Managerial Thinking About Leadership And Motivation

Stage 1 This is known as the coercive stage.  The only motivator (if we can call it that) is the fear of dismissal. During the early days of the Industrial Revolution the social and economic conditions made this workable.  However, whenever the economy dips and unemployment increases this stage resurrects itself, indeed it was quite common in the early 1980’s.  This stage really epitomises drivership rather than leadership. [geoads2]

Stage 2

Known as the mechanistic stage, the emphasis here is the working environment.  During the First World War, improving working conditions in munitions factories had the effect of improving productivity.  It was felt generally that concentrating on establishing ‘ideal’ workloads, work periods and environmental conditions would gain optimum performance.  Even today organisations attempt to ‘lead’ using these methods.  

Stage 3

Psychological leadership.  The ‘Hawthorne Experiments’ undertaken by Elton Mayo between 1928 and 1931 in the General Electric Company at their Hawthorne Plant, acted as a catalyst for this view of leadership and its effect on motivation.  The objective of these experiments was to measure productivity improvements, which it was anticipated would result from the improvement of working conditions (Stage 2). However, when these changes were made, productivity did improve but when conditions were returned to their original state output continued to increase. Mayo concluded that productivity had improved because:
  • The workforce understood not only what they were doing by why. They valued the result of this work and this gave them a sense of personal worth.
  • They had formed an effective and cohesive team.
  • They were being consulted about meaningful aspects of the work, i.e. they were being led effectively.
Elton Mayo’s work began the transition to current thinking about leadership and psychological motivation. Renis Likerts research findings demonstrated that if staff were treated well, i.e. high standards were set up, trust and co-operation were valued highly, they felt free to confide in superiors and make suggestions and were trusted and involved with organisational goals, they would be highly motivated and perform more effectively.  This contrasted with many task-centred approaches, which suggested that tasks should be broken into simple parts; subordinates trained to carry out these tasks and closely supervised. John Adair developed this idea into concern for results (task) concern for people (as individuals) and as a group: [geoads3]

Action Centred Leadership:  John Adair

  1. Task Functions     Defining the task
  • Making a plan
  • Allocating work and resources
  • Controlling quality and tempo of Checking performance against the plan
  • Adjusting the plan
  1. Group Functions     Setting standards
  • Maintaining discipline
  • Building team spirit
  • Encouraging, motivating, giving a sense of purpose
  • Appointing sub-leaders
  • Ensuring communication within the group
  • Training the group
  1. Individual Functions     Attending to personal problems
  • Praising individuals
  • Giving status
  • Recognising and using individual abilities
  • Training the individual
[geoads3] Douglas McGregor stressed that high morale, job satisfaction and being happy at work depended primarily on feeling a sense of achievement.  So the idea of integrating the needs of the job and the needs of people was eminently feasible. He pointed out that one’s own assumptions about people and consequently your attitude towards them, is the main determinant of their behaviour towards you.  You can either take the view that they are shiftless and basically lazy or that under the right conditions they can enjoy work and the challenges it imposes. He developed these two perspectives into Theory X and Theory Y:  


People Naturally


People Naturally

1.   Are lazy – prefer to do nothing 1.   Are active – set goals, enjoy striving
2.   Expect direction – won’t think for themselves 2.   Are able to assess situations – be self directing
3.   Are in need of close supervision, pushing and driving 3.   Are able to devise and improve their own work methods – need freedom, encouragement, assistance to do so
4.   Are in need of specific instruction: ·         What to do ·         How to do it 4.   Are in need of being respected as capable of assuming responsibility
5.   Are formed by heredity/upbringing.  Adults are static 5.   Are constantly growing – never too late to learn
6.   Overall, the main force keeping people productive in their work is fear of punishments, including demotion or being sacked 6.   Overall, the main force keeping  people productive in their work is a desire to achieve their personal and social goals
  [geoads3] Douglas McGregor also stated that: “We can improve our ability to control only if we recognise that control consists of selective adaptation to human nature rather than in attempting to make human nature conform to our wishes”. Fortunately, he observed, more productive employees using all their talents, are more fulfilled and happier. Abraham Maslow would agree but only if in his terms the basic needs are catered for.  He developed “The Hierarchy Of Needs”: A lower need must be satisfied before the next higher need will become a motivator. Individuals will be motivated to move up to higher needs. Needs will change with time and circumstance. [geoads2] Esteem needs are often met by effective leadership.

Leadership And Decision Making

Encouraging initiative, delegating to and consulting subordinates thus allowing them freedom to manage their own jobs is the common theme running through the ideas of Mayo, Likert, McGregor, Blake and Mouton, Adair, Maslow and Herzberg.  A historical progression can be discerned, from the days of “tell them what they have got to do and make sure they do it” to the present day trend towards co-partnership in running the business and making the key decisions.  ]]>