Theories of Leadership: Expectancy Theory

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The Expectancy Theory is a model that seeks to understand the work motivation of every individual. It states the work motivation of any individual is dependent on his/her assessment on:

  • Whether the effort would lead to good performance
  • The probability of a reward as a result of the good performance
  • The value of this reward

The Expectancy Theory states that by clarifying the path to achieving good performance and removing pitfalls and enhancing personal satisfaction for the job, a leader is able to more effectively motivate his subordinates in work.

First, whether the effort would lead to good performance. If someone is confident that their work will be excellent, they are far more likely to be motivated to do it. If however, they do not believe they have the competency, it is likely they may lose the motivation to do it well or even procrastinate it.

Next, do they know they will get rewarded if they do it well? A reward does not have to be monetary. Recognition and praise both work as great motivators as well. The reward can be to present their work to the board of directors or a public acknowledgment; that often is more than enough to motivate someone to do well.

Last of all, do they value the reward? This takes the sensitivity of the leader to pick out what is valued by others. Different individuals value different forms of reward: some praise, some recognition, some monetary reward, some time-off from work. They need to have a reward that they truly value if the leader wants to see them motivated.

These 3 factors will ultimately influence if you can bring out the best in others as a leader.

However, Expectancy Theory does suffer criticisms for not being useful because it merely theorizes the model for motivation of employees and it talks very little about how leaders should act to maximize motivation for their employees.

It is however, good to know because by clarifying with employees about the above three factors because they aid you in the clarity of your presentation and expectations.

By reducing uncertainty to rewards through expectation management, you can motivate people to give their best for the organization!

Other Theories and Types of Leadership

» Servant leadership
Servant leadership is not so much a style, but an attitude that a leader adopts. It finds its roots in the Bible.

» Strategic leadership
One would find strategic leadership in business organizations where change management is required and a strategic vision is necessary for the business to grow.

» Autocratic Leadership
An autocratic leadership style is somewhat like a directive leadership style; but autocratic leaders are generally more task oriented. They expect their task to be done and they do not consider their follower’s feelings in their decision-making.

» Democratic leadership
A democratic leadership style is in the opposite spectrum of the autocratic leadership style. Also known as the participative leadership style, this type of leaders generally seeks a consensus on the direction of a group. They are generally more people oriented and the feelings and thoughts of their followers matter to them.

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