A
motivated workforce, in general, is essential for employee performance and
success of an organisation. Therefore, motivation highly contributes to being
an effective leader. An unmotivated employer at the workplace is likely to show
low productivity, lack of effort to complete a task and desire to leave the job,
whereas, a motivated employee will likely to be more productive, creative, and
persistent with their job (Amabile, 1993).

Maslow
(1943) in his theory introduces five basic needs which are arranged in a
hierarchy connected to each other. These needs are related to employee
motivation and performance and are listed from lowest to highest needs. Maslow (1943)
states that once a need is sensibly well satisfied, the next higher need will
arise. Guzzo (1979) suggests that Maslow’s hierarchy of needs can be assumed as
separating extrinsic (lower order needs) and intrinsic (higher order needs).
However, this theory is criticised as it has not been supported by empirical
evidence. Humans have unique needs and leaders cannot accept every single
individual follows a usual pattern of need up to the hierarchy (Armstrong, 2001).
In addition, this hierarchy of needs can change order according to the culture
(Boeree, 2006). Also, the theory relies heavily on Western perspective whereas
if we look from the Asian cultures’ perspective, needs such as status and admiration
could be more important and considered as the upper higher level of needs than
self-actualisation or esteem needs. For instance, Nevis (1983) developed an
alternative model of the hierarchy of needs based on Chinese culture which has
a collectivist society compared to individualistic Western societies. In this
model, self-esteem is eliminated because in a collectivist culture self is
defined in terms of the group.

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Alternatively,
Herzberg’s motivation-hygiene theory suggests that motivators and hygiene
factors influence individuals’ motivation. Motivators such as achievement and
success lead to positive satisfaction while hygiene factors such as poor
working conditions, low salary and lack of benefits create negative job
attitudes (Herzberg et al., 1959). Therefore, motivators are known as intrinsic
and hygiene factors as extrinsic. An effective leader should be able to improve
any factors that dissatisfy employees. Avoiding doing this could lead to
unmotivated employees’ who are not satisfied with their jobs. Thus, motivators
cannot be used until all the hygiene factors have been fulfilled (Boeree,
2006). Herzberg’s theory is criticised for lack of evidence to prove that
motivators indeed improve employee motivation (Armstrong, 2001). Additionally,
Herzberg does focus too dependently on workplace-related factors without
acknowledging the fact that some employees may have personal and family issues
that could influence their motivation and performance in the workplace.

According
to Adam’s (1963) equity theory, individuals compare themselves over others in
terms of the fairness of the rewards they get. The theory assumes that
individuals believe people who show a greater contribution to the work and put
in more effort should receive higher outcomes compared to the ones who perform
stable in a competitive working environment. However, if an employee feels
inequality occurs in the workplace, the stress and tension they feel will
increase (Huseman et al., 1987). Effective leaders should fairly treat
employees by continually asking for feedback on what employees’ value, whether
they have any recommendations and how they prefer to be rewarded. Secondly,
leaders should ensure that employees are offered their own choice of benefits
as it is more equal and motivating to receive an outcome that you value the
most. However, the theory provides mixed empirical support. For instance, pay
satisfaction leading to job satisfaction is a generalised idea. People tend to
lower their performance if underpaid, however, there is no research to prove
overpayment increases motivation to perform better.