What Motivates an Individual to Lead and Engage in Leadership Development?

What Motivates an Individual to Lead and Engage in Leadership Development?

Sharon E. Norris (Spring Arbor University, USA)
Copyright: © 2017 |Pages: 11
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-1049-9.ch048
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Leadership occurs within work units, groups, teams, and among supervisors, mid-level, and top-level managers, as well as when individuals interact with an organization's external environment. Leadership development refers to the experiences, training, and growth opportunities that help a leader mature and gain the knowledge and skills necessary for success in leadership positions. What motivates an individual to lead and seek out leadership development is the focus of this chapter. The motivation to lead and engage in leadership development is enhanced when a person has strong leader efficacy beliefs and engages in positive thought self-leadership. Leadership development initiatives designed to strengthen efficacy beliefs and encourage the development of thought self-leadership among emerging leaders are worthwhile strategic management techniques useful for enhancing overall leader effectiveness within organizations.
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What Motivates An Individual To Lead And Engage In Leadership Development?

Leadership in organizational environments has been linked with individual, group, and corporate success (Adair, 2010a). Leaders set the tone for the organization through the creation of a compelling vision as well as the capacity to motivate and inspire others (Daft, 2008). Baldoni (2014) argues the most effective leaders have passion for what they do, ambition, competence, credibility, and confidence. Leadership takes place interpersonally and institutionally (Selznick, 1957), but leadership is not limited to those individuals serving in the highest-ranking roles within an organization (Senge, 1996). Leadership occurs within work units, groups, teams, and among supervisors, mid-level, and top-level managers, as well as when individuals interact with an organization’s external environment. Individual with strong efficacy beliefs and the motivation to lead commonly emerge as leaders within organizational environments; and as such, these individuals actively engage in formal and informal opportunities for leadership development (Rosch & Villanueva, 2016). Felf and Schyns (2014) state, “Leadership roles require appropriate personal initiative, that is, being self-starting, taking charge, being goal-oriented, and being persistent” (p. 860).

Oftentimes, executives and the strategic managers of an organization begin their career journey as emergent leaders. According to Hong, Cantano, and Liao (2011), “An emergent leader is someone who is not designated as a leader but emerges as an informal leader of a group by exerting influence on group processes and group goal achievement” (p. 322). It has been argued that emergent leaders possess different traits and characteristics as compared with individuals who do not become leaders (Aamodt, 2016). Wickham and Walther (2007) explain, “Unlike assigned leaders, where the given role precedes the leaders’ behavior, emergent leaders may arise through the enactment of behaviors or characteristics, and perceptions by partners of those enactments, that garner leadership recognition” (p. 4). Emergent leaders gain support and are accepted as leaders by others typically as a result of their active communication behaviors such as being involved, seeking others opinions, and initiating new ideas (Northouse, 2013; Fisher, 1974). Discovering what motivates an individual to get involved and positively communicate with a desire or willingness to lead as well as engage in leadership development are the overarching questions of this study.

The characteristics that influence an individual’s decision to seek and accept leadership roles as well as those who pursue leadership development opportunities describes the motivation to lead. Motivation to lead is a theoretical framework that explains the influence of individual differences on leader behavior (Chan & Drasgow, 2001). According to Chan and Drasgow (2001), motivation to lead is “a dynamic construct that is partially changeable through social learning processes and experience” (p. 496). A key assumption is that motivation to lead “can change to some extent in a learning process as leaders acquire experience and training” (Kark & Van Dijk, 2007, p. 506). One’s motivation to lead is considered malleable and may be influenced by a variety of factors such as general cognitive ability, values, personality, and attitudes, as well as through leadership development and experiences (Chan & Drasgow, 2001; Guillen, Mayo, & Korotov, 2015; Hendricks & Payne, 2007). What motivates an individual to lead, engage in leadership development, and persist in leadership roles is explored, and specifically this chapter presents motivation to lead, leader efficacy, and thought self-leadership as characteristics of leader emergence and key outcomes of effective leadership development.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Non-Calculative MTL: People who do not count the costs relative to the benefits of leading.

Leader Efficacy: A leader’s belief that he or she possesses the knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary to effectively lead others.

Leadership Development: Training and professional human resource development initiatives that strengthen a leader’s knowledge, skills, abilities, and efficacy.

Motivation to Lead: The energizing force that influence an individual’s decision to assume a leadership role, take on leadership responsibilities, and engage in leadership training development as well as the intensity of effort at leading and persisting as a leader.

Process Theories of Motivation: Explains how behavior is energized, directed, sustained, and stopped.

Affective-Identity MTL: People who like to lead others.

Social-Normative MTL: People who lead out of a sense of duty.

Content Theories of Motivation: Explain what motivates people.

Motive: Human behavior that is persistent and goal directed.

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