There is a beautiful story of a young man who is believed to have served his line manager very well. Anything short of becoming the next team leader after his Line Manager would demotivate him and thus, his question is; why delegate to me frequently if you have no plan for my personal leadership growth? This particular case in point and many other situations make motivation in delegation an interesting topic for discussion.
The undercurrents driving the interpretation of delegation increasing employee morale to fuel employee performance are the same nuances that make employees pause to observe the pace of events within an environment. Considering some key motivational theories proposed by Hughes et al (2015) as exposed and expressed in many ways, motivation, which is referred to as anything that provides direction, intensity, and persistence to behavior, may lead to general discussions that delegation may be a motivational tool to prepare next leaders. Albeit, it should be clearly held close to leadership discourse that delegation remains a responsibility within the leader-follower relationship journey.
“…..it is the leader’s responsibility to know the motivational levels of the follower everytime.”
The good old reliable Maslow’s theory of need concludes that people will satisfy their needs to change their behavior. Needs are inner conditions of strain or stimulation, or uncomfortable positions of insufficiency. Followers with high desire for personal growth, ready to lead with personal ambition to succeed often see delegation as a source of motivation. At this point, they are not looking at immediate gains in a delegation process. Rather, they are driven by the fact that they can measure all activities directed towards their leadership development. Trainees with high need to lead often develop expert and referent powers so to equip themselves for the next step. When the needs of trainees and or followers are not being met, they often resort to engaging in some discouraging and sometimes uncooperative behaviours aimed at satisfying themselves to express their dissatisfaction.
Tapping nicely into the Maslow’s theory of need again, which is a powerful tool to express motivation incites the position that, to motivate employees using delegation as a tool and in effect demanding more from trainees, leaders must determine where their followers are on the Maslow’s needs hierarchy to subsequently ensure that lower-order needs are met before appealing to their higher-order needs. Applying the Maslow’s Theory of need (Armstrong 2004) to delegation, it is the leader’s responsibility to know the motivational levels of the trainee or the follower. Good leaders know this by focusing on the character of followers.
In a leader-follower relationship within delegation, the leader may not trust what followers say but if they can testify with the character of followers, they are always willing to bend their backs for them.
The role of a protégé is also another discussion altogether. There are other motivational approaches like the achievement orientation, the goal setting, the operant and the empowerment tactics and techniques which seek to buttress the argument that delegation may be another form of motivation depending on the situation.
This is Leadership!