Leaders and Motivation

Motivation, as the Oxford dictionary defines it “the reason why somebody does something or behaves in a particular way.” (Oxford University Press, 2021). The reason is the power that drives someone to do something or behaves differently. When we put this reason into transformational and charismatic leadership, it would then define why transformational leaders are individuals that influence others through theirs to thoughts, voices, and actions that make a positive difference in the world (Maxell, 2019). And why charismatic leaders are known to be heroes that are able influence by using their personal attractiveness to lead others in an honourable way (Fragouli, 2018).

Influence to inspire and motivate

In order to motivate someone, first they need to inspire. That happens when trust is established. From a transformational leadership perspective, In the 5 dimensions of transformational leadership, idealized attributed and behaviour, which refers more to the character and behaviour of the leader where followers see them as being strong and confident that is viewed as a figure of higher-order ideals and ethics. This portrait the leader as a role model that leads by example and uses special personal quality to convince others (Cicero & Pierro, 2007). Being a role model is one of the important elements to inspire others and with building trust into the equation, that is how a leader can motivate their employees.

And when it comes to charismatic leadership style, it has both a direct and indirect influence on innovation. There is an attractiveness in them that inspire teams to engage in innovative behaviour by intrinsically motivating them to look for new approaches and solutions (Paulsen, et al., 2009). It is also discussed that the unconventional leadership behaviour of being different and astonishing is often seen in charismatic leaders, which positively related to creative performance of their followers (Jaussi & Dionne, 2003). I do tend to agree with unconventional behaviour influencing creativity because I believe it takes a bold and fearless mindset go against the norm and take a different approach in looking at problems differently.

It is important to understand what really matters to the employees that motivate them to do something or change certain behaviour. The “motivation” can be classified into extrinsic and intrinsic. Leaders can use either motivation types in addressing different needs of an individual depending on the Maslow hierarchy of needs (Kispál-Vitai, 2016).  When someone works hard and gets paid as a reward as a result of the hard work, it is associated with extrinsic motivation. It is used more suitable for the basic needs of the Hierarchy where what matters most is to survive.  On the other hand, intrinsic motivation is more of a self-driven reason to do something that make them happy and fulfilling as the same time. This is effective in addressing the psychological and self-fulfilment needs where what matters to them is being inclusive and fulfilling in life.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs

Jeff Bezos and Amazon

Jeff Bezos is a good example of a transformational leader with a charisma. He took Amazon from a small online bookstore in 1994 and completely changed to the e-commerce giant of today. Here we showcase how Amazon uses both intrinsic and extrinsic motivations towards his employees that creates positive impact to both creativity and productivity.

I picked up this quote that Jeff said “All Good Leaders Use This 1 Thing to Motivate and Inspire High Performing Teams. Make it okay to fail.” (Aten, 2019). This is an interesting psychological step towards risk management of the business. This gives a good deal of empowerment to his employees to engage in higher risk, which in turn translate into higher possible returns. This is especially assuring to the employees when the leader itself endorsed it as a company culture. This is seen as an intrinsic motivation.

Another example how Amazon uses extrinsic motivation by announcing that it would voluntarily increase its minimum hourly wage to $15 that is above the federal minimum wage of only $7.25. This was a surprising decision coming from a company that focus on cost to be competitive (Fisman & Luca, 2018). However, they took a different approach to believe in providing beyond the basic needs under the intent to motivate their workforce to perform better. Other advantages with higher wages allow firms to attract and retain better employees into the organization.


Looking back, how I see motivation in relation to my company which does transformational restructuring every 2-3 years’ time period. What I experienced and learned from each change is that the leaders of the company always take the time to communicate the reason why changes are needed and how it can make us stronger and better in the ever changing competitive landscape, which is much appreciated. Every time it is the reason that is the motivation for all of us to persevere through as one team. 


Aten, J., 2019. All Good Leaders Use This 1 Thing to Motivate and Inspire High Performing Teams Make it okay to fail.. [Online]
Available at: https://www.inc.com/jason-aten/jeff-bezos-says-all-good-leaders-use-this-1-thing-to-motivate-inspire-high-performing-teams.html
[Accessed 23 April 2021].

Cicero, L. & Pierro, A., 2007. Charismatic leadership and organizational outcomes: The mediating role of employees’ work-group identification. INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF PSYCHOLOGY, 42(5), p. 297–306.

Fisman, R. & Luca, M., 2018. How-amazons-higher-wages-could-increase-productivity. [Online]
Available at: https://hbr.org/2018/10/how-amazons-higher-wages-could-increase-productivity
[Accessed 23 April 2021].

Fragouli, E., 2018. The dark-side of charisma and charismatic leadership. Business and Management Review, 9(4), pp. 298-307.

Jaussi, K. S. & Dionne, S. D., 2003. Leading for creativity: The role of unconventional leader behavior. The Leadership Quarterly, 14(4-5), p. 475 – 498.

Kispál-Vitai, Z., 2016. Comparative analysis of motivation theories. International Journal of Engineering and Management Sciences, 1(1), pp. 1-13.

Maxell, J., 2019. Your Leadership Can Transform the World. [Online]
Available at: https://www.johnmaxwell.com/blog/your-leadership-can-transform-the-world/
[Accessed 12 Apr 2021].

Oxford University Press, 2021. Motivation. [Online]
Available at: https://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/definition/english/motivation
[Accessed 17 April 2021].

Paulsen, N., Maldonado, D., Callan, V. J. & Ayoko, O., 2009. Charismatic leadership, change and innovation in an R&D organization. Journal of Organizational Change Management, 22(5), pp. 511-523.

5 thoughts on “Leaders and Motivation

  1. Great article and very true by Jeff Bezos it is ok to fail and I echoed similar views. Such assurance from a top leader connects with his team extremely well. It builds the culture and confidence in the team to go above and beyond. Fantastic quote!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Good read. When mistake is allowed, sky is the limit for creativity. Either leadership style, what’s more important is to be able to motivate employee to Succeed together with the organisation.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Your post is both inspirational and motivating, just like Jeff! It is great to see a success story of a transformational leader, who utilises his strengths as a leader to motivate his workforce. I really like how you have incorporated theoretical concepts with your personal opinions, which then flowed into a real life example of a leader.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. You are so good! Transformational restructuring that happens in organizations every so often is indeed a heavyweight task to deliver, be it as a leader or as a follower. Your based-on-experience leadership view of strong appreciation and emphasis on consistent and persevering communication is what we all need because it certainly cuts across any form of transformational or charismatic style.

    Looking forward to reading more of your blog posts, Benjamin!


  5. I like your view on what motivates the employees matters most. Whatever leadership style it is, as long as it will persevere the team to work united. This is a great view of motivation Ben.


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