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Leadership scenario Essay


The purpose of the paper is to explore the various types of leadership styles that affected the motivation of the employee. Jonathan and Dan have two different managerial styles. Jonathan a manager in super market who prefers to change the duties of his subordinates. He is effective manager who is liked by his employees and everyone in supermarket wants to work for him. Dan a manager who prefers a consecutive routine and adherence with a focus on repeatability. He is moderator for 30 minutes lunch break. The main characters are two friends Alex and Stephanie. They work full time and this job helps them to pay for college. Alex works for Dan, he portrayed as unhappy and disappointed. Stephanie works for Jonathon and always ready to work, she is vigorous and high motivated. This case “A Question of Motivation” will be analyzed through the Needs – Goal Theory (Maslow), Equity Theory of Motivation, Hershey – Blanchard Life-Cycle Theory and Path-Goal Theory.


“Maslow states that human beings possess the five basic needs and theorizes that they can be arranged in a hierarchy of importance – the order in which individuals generally strive to satisfy them”.(Certo&Certo, 2012, p.371)

Motivation has a significant meaning in understanding subordinate’s behavior; motivation can influence this behavior to rich goals. Maslow’s Motivational theory is based on the idea that human behavior is controlled through a limited number of developing fundamental needs which operate in a fixed sequence. Need is defined as a condition of deficit. Individuals are perceived as a biological being having psychological capacities. The psychological needs – the needs that are usually taken as the starting point for motivation theory are so-called psychological drivers.2 The Maslow hierarchy of needs starts from the bottom of the pyramid. First step is _psychological needs_, these needs include necessities like food, sleep, water, sexual drive, breathing, air. These necessities required for body to survive and normal function.

Next step is _security needs,_ they contain security of family, health, body, resources, property, employment, a safe work environment. Next is _social needs_, it includes the desire for social contact and interaction, friendship, family, affection and other various types of support. Above social needs are _esteem needs_ which include status, recognition, confidence, respect of others. As they are satisfied, individual goes upper and stands on final need_- self-actualization needs._ At this stage an individual needs morality, problem solving, creativity, desire for achievement, personal growth and development. The movement from one level to the next was termed satisfaction progression by Maslow and it was assumed that over time individuals were motivated to continually progresses upward through these levels.

In the case study, “A Question of Motivation”, Robbins and Judge 12th edition many of these levels are demonstrated, for instance, sense of safety “”Though pay isn’t great, it’s a steady job that allow them some flexibility, which helps when scheduling classes”(Robbins & Judge, 2007, p. 712). It’s security of having a job and security of being able to pay for college. An example of social needs described in first paragraph, it states that Alex and Stephanie became friends because similar situation made them closer to each other. Their managers Dan and Jonathan are differ in esteem needs, especially Dan is making Alex’s self-respect descend while it’s opposite for Stephanie. According to Robbins and Judge “_A Question of Motivation,_ 12th edition, Alex’s manager (Dan) supervises the produce department and prefers for subordinates to work in the same position at all times, he often humiliate Alex.

Stephanie’s manager (Jonathan) is very friendly, he encourages his subordinates to increase their horizon by letting creativity and working and working in different positions. Stephanie is able to be challenge at work that’s why she is very confident, while Alex feels like grotty and useless because his manager doesn’t let him show his abilities and do his best. Alex has a low self-estimate because of another worker who is doing the same job but she is a new worker and gets more money than Alex. Stephanie’s manager helps her to encounter self-actualization needs; he puts the trust at her and what she is doing. When there is lack of items, Jonathan enables his workers the ability to achieve tasks by ordering supplies She is heartened, she has high problem solving skills, also she can apply her creativity on making new recipes. This all is the result of manager’s motivational and management skills.


All people seek for fairness between what they put into job and what they get of it. Adams calls these inputs and outputs. According to Certo&Certo(2012) “Equity theory looks at an individual’s perceived fairness of an employment situation and finds that perceived inequities can lead to changes in behavior” (p. 369). This theory based on the social comparison process of examining the ratio of inputs and outcomes between oneself and a comparison other, for example, individuals compare themselves with others, and perceive what they benefit from job. When individuals aren’t treated fairly when compared to their coworkers, they tend react in a number of ways, including changing their work habits to better reap the rewards, resent coworkers and management for the inequality or in extreme cases quit (Certo & Certo, 2012).

Inputs typically include: determination, tolerance, hard work, loyalty, effort, commitment, support of colleagues and subordinates, ability, flexibility, personal scarifies, heart and soul. Outputs are typically financial rewards: pay, salary, expenses, bonus payment, travel, development, perks, interest, reputation, respect, praise and thanks, sense of achievement and advancement, promotion, stimulus. If individual feels that inputs are rewarded by outputs, then he/she is happy to work and more motivated to continue inputting at the same level. However, if individual feels that ratio of inputs to outputs is less beneficial than the ratio of others, then he/she becomes unmotivated to work and decreases inputting.

In this case “A Question of Motivation”, Robbins and Judge, 12th edition, there is an unfair in Alex and Stephanie duties. Stephanie has a boss who inspires and empowers her to make decisions and try to do her best, while Alex’s boss Dan seems to be stingy for praise and promotion, he holds his subordinates back. That’s why Stephanie loves her job but Alex doesn’t. Jonathan gives Stephanie opportunity to get rewards for good work. This gives her pride for her job and inspiration to continue working at the same level. (Robbins and Judge, 12th edition).

Alex is unhappy with his job. He becomes dispirit with job “I don’t even care anymore. What’s the point? If I stock more apples, or something meaningless like that, what does it get me-another sticker that says ‘good job”? ( Robbins and Judge, 12th edition, p. 713). Discouraged with Dan and his management styles he gives up changing the situation, but doesn’t quit because he needs the job. Alex doesn’t want to struggle about fact that another employee has been working less time and is being paid more because she tells compliments to his manager.

Alex and Stephanie work in the same place of employment, the same work schedule, but the feedback of this job is different. My opinion that this type of motivation has only one side with good destination. As result, Stephanie is high motivated, while Alex is just working for salary without receiving any skills.


Leadership is a major way in which people change the minds (influence) of others and move minds of others and move organizations forward to reach identified goals.”The Life Cycle Theory of Leadership is a rationale for linking styles with various situations to ensure effective leadership” (Certo&Certo, 2012, p.342). This theory is based on the employee’s maturity and their ability to work without supervision. Also this theory states that successful leaders should change their leadership styles based on the maturity of the people they’re leading and the details of the task. Leaders using this theory should be able to place more or less emphasis on the task, and on the relationships with the people they’re leading. According to Certo&Certo, 2012, p.342, there are four different phases to the Life cycle:

High task – Low relationships. In this phase employees first join an organization, they usually need direction and require specific instructions as to what to do. Employees must be familiar with organizations procedures and policies. The most appropriate approach is a task-oriented leadership.

High task – High relationships. A manager becomes more familiar with subordinates and trust in their performance. At this phase, followers might be willing to work on the task, but they still don’t have the skills to complete it successfully.

Low task – High relationships. Leaders focus more on the relationship and less on direction. The leader works with the team, and shares decision-making responsibilities. As subordinates abilities and performance become obvious and as experience increases, subordinates seek more responsibility. However managers continue to support and encourage subordinates.

Low task – High relationships. At this phase subordinates are able to work on their own. They have high self-confidence and skills. Leaders still oversee in progress but less involved in decision making situations.

This case study “A Question of Motivation” Robbins and Judge 12th edition is described two managers. Stephanie’s manager Jonathan is portrayed as “a 10-year veteran who everyone generally admires for his friendly demeanor and relaxed management style” and that “he often assigns his employees different duties each week so workers don’t get bored”. Two years ago when Stephanie started working she had high task-low relationships phase. Through the years her maturity increased by this four phases. And now Stephanie merits Jonathan confidence to complete challenging tasks without total supervision “The nice thing is that I’ll be able to do this on my own, without someone breathing down my neck” (Robbins & Judge, 12thed., p. 714).

It is seen that Alex doesn’t like Dan and he doesn’t respect him. They have difficult relationship. When Alex was hired he had a high task-low relationship phase and still without any movement. So, relationship and maturity get stuck. Dan’s attitude toward Alex is shown in lunchtime when Dan told Alex: “I thought that college students were supposed to be smarter than this. At the very least I would think that they could tell time. I guess the university must have glossed over you applications.” (Robbins & Judge, 12thed., p. 714).

It can be see that because of manager’s leadership level Stephanie and Alex receive different skills, though, working at the same time and position.


Path – goal theory states that a manager can affect the performance and motivation by offering rewards for achieving goals “The path-goal theory of leadership suggests that the primary activities of a leader are to make desirable and achievable rewards available to organization members who attain organizational goals and to clarify the kinds of behavior that must be performed to earn those rewards”(Certo&Certo, 2012, p.345). So, this theory based on motivating subordinates to accomplish goals. The manager must use a style that best meets the subordinate’s motivational needs.

According to Certo&Certo (2012) there are four path-goal types of leader behavior: DIRECTIVE – The leader gives specific guidance of performance to subordinates, for instance, what to do, how to perform task. SUPPORTIVE – The leader is friendly and shows concern for the subordinates. It is most appropriate for situations in which tasks and relationships are physically or psychologically challenging. PARTICIPATIVE – The leader consults subordinates before making decisions and considers their suggestions. It’s most effective when subordinates are highly disciplined and involved in work. ACHIEVEMENT – The leader puts challenging goals and expects subordinates to have high level performance.

In this case study “A Question of Motivation” Robbins and Judge 12th Ed. It’s obviously seen that Jonathan uses the path-goal theory. He allows his subordinates to change duties time to time. This style helps subordinates to learn each functional area in produce department, increases their productivity. He set a goal to Stephanie to sell 10 bottles of truffle oil and if she achieves it, Jonathan will reward her with a $75 bonus.

Jonathan is respected and well-liked, everyone wants to work for him, he created an environment and system that employees find both interesting and challenging “Most employees want to work for Jonathan, as he often assigns his employees different duties each week so workers don’t get bored.” (Robbins & Judge, 12th Ed., p. 712). It can be seen that Alex’s manager Dan doesn’t use the path-goal theory. He doesn’t interest in participating and supporting his subordinates. He doesn’t set some goals to achieve subordinates. So, Dan doesn’t change his behavior in any situation.


To complete my leadership scenario I’d like to tell that the most effective and best managers are those who able to unite both motivational and leadership theories to accomplish goals of individual or organization and facilitate the employee performance. The case study “A Question of Motivation” shows that the most appropriate characters to these four theories of motivation and leadership are Stephanie and Jonathan. Stephanie uses Needs – Goal Theory (Maslow) and Equity Theory of Motivation, she prospers in her job and very happy to be under Jonathan control. As for Jonathan, he uses Hershey – Blanchard Life-Cycle Theory and Path-Goal Theory. We can see that because of Dan’s low level of leadership, Alex suffers and couldn’t do anything. So Dan should learn a lot by observing Jonathan in order to improve and increase his leadership style and behavior.


1) Certo, S. C., & Certo, S. T. (2012). _Modern Management: Concepts and Skills._ Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.

2) Maslow, A.H., 1943, A theory of Human Motivation, p. 372-396.

3) Carrell, Michael R. and Dittrich, John E., 1978, Equity Theory: The Recent Literature, Methodological Considerations, and New Directions, p. 202-208.

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