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EMPLOYEES DONT LEAVE COMPANIES THEY LEAVE MANAGERS:

THE IMPACT OF AUTOCRATIC LEADERSHIP ON EMPLOYEE


MOTIVATION
INTRODUCTION
Lara Ukeje was a rapidly rising star at Price Waterhouse Coopers.
Everyone felt she would eventually become the Managing Director
of the firm. In the course of her career, she developed an interest in
Forensic Accounting. She joined the global professional association
of forensic accountants, started a blog on forensic accounting and
began to express her interest in being staffed on forensic accounting
projects. However, she was thwarted in her efforts as the leaders in
her firm refused to support her in her professional ambitions.
Discouraged and disempowered, she left PwC when she got the
opportunity to work as a forensic accountant at an oil and gas
company.
Is Lara a recalcitrant employee? Does she lack willpower? Or is she
the victim of an autocratic leadership style? When is autocratic
leadership appropriate and when does it disempower and
demotivate employees?
This paper seeks to shed light on these questions.
LITERATURE REVIEW AND THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK
Employee motivation has been a key topic in the management
literature for a while. This interest and the desire to better
understand motivation has led to the development of many models.
Most of the models concerning these concepts suggest that there is
indeed a relationship between leadership style and employee
motivation. McGregors Theory Y states that good working
relationships matter greatly in motivating employees. According to
Herzbergs theory, a good supervisor-supervisee relationship is a
Hygiene factor. According to Abraham Maslow, a good supervisorsupervisee relationship would satisfy the need for belonging and
esteem. According to McClelland, employees with a high need for
affiliation would need a good supervisor-supervisee relationship in
order to flourish.
Although leadership style and behaviors have drawn much
attention, the focus is generally on the relationship between
transformational, transactional and laissez-faire leadership styles on
motivation. There has been no effort to analyze the relationship
between autocratic leadership and motivation. Autocratic leadership
is found to be a socio-cultural characteristic of African cultures and it
is argued that, since, autocratic leadership behaviors are very

common in these organizational contexts, it is important to study


the impact it has on employee motivation. Such a study would
1. Abd-El-Salam, Shawky, El-Naha, Nawar (2013) The
Relationship among Job Satisfaction, Motivation, Leadership,
Communication and Psychological Empowerment: An Egyptian
Case Study SAM Advanced Management Journal
a. Employees appreciate the supervisors support,
consideration, ability to communicate clearly, listen
empathetically, fairness and accessibility
b. Leaders should allow employees to express their
opinions in constructive dialogues
c. Designing jobs that allow for self-determination and that
are meaningful to the employees are important steps in
building employees job satisfaction, retention and wellbeing.
2. Evans (1970) Leadership and Motivation: A Core Concept
a. Path-Goal Instrumentality is the degree to which the
individual perceives that a given path will lead to a
particular goal
b. There are a variety of factors that can affect path-goal
instrumentalities but the behavior of the supervisor can
be one of the most potent
c. Supervisor behavior will only have an impact upon
worker behavior and satisfaction if the following two
conditions are met:
i. Supervisory behavior is related to the path
instrumentalities perceived by the worker
ii. Path instrumentalities are related to satisfaction
and performance
iii. If both conditions are met, then a relatively simple
strategy will suffice. Any change in leadership
behavior should have direct consequences for
path-goal instrumentalities and hence on worker
performance and satisfaction