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TITLE: Leaders and Followers: The Role of Achievement Motives and Their

Effects on Motivating Strategies for Enhancing Performance

AUTHORS: Patricia Ann Castelli, Ph.D.

Lawrence Technological University, USA

Frank Castronova, Ph.D.

Lawrence Technological University, USA

Jacqueline Stavros, EDM

Lawrence Technological University, USA

Jane Galloway Seiling, Ph.D.

Taos Institute, USA

ABSTRACT: Recognizing achievement motive disposition is important for leaders in

understanding what motivates their followers. Incorporating motivating
strategies into this process with the goal of enhancing performance, however,
has not been sufficiently addressed in the literature. This study provided an
analysis of low and high self-attributed need for achievement and their effects
on the motivation needs of followers. The findings provide recommendations
on how leaders can increase followers interest and effort to enhance

KEYWORDS: Achievement motive, leaders, followers, motivating strategies, motivation,


PAPER: Journal Article

CONTACT: Patricia Castelli, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Outcomes Assessment Coordinator
College of Management
Lawrence Technological University
21000 West Ten Mile Road
Southfield, MI 48075-1058

Castelli et al. Motivating Followers 1



Recognizing achievement motive disposition is important for leaders in understanding

what motivates their followers. Incorporating motivating strategies into this process with the

goal of enhancing performance, however, has not been sufficiently addressed in the literature.

This study provided an analysis of low and high self-attributed need for achievement and their

effects on the motivation needs of followers. The findings provide recommendations on how

leaders can increase followers interest and effort to enhance performance.

Castelli et al. Motivating Followers 2

Acknowledgement: We thank Dr. Roy Bohlin and Dr. John Keller for permitting the use and
modification of their Course Interest and Course Effort Survey instruments.

Stimulated by the Hawthorne studies (Roethlisberger & Dickson, 1939), work motivation

has been a focus of researchers since the 1930s. Researchers have taken various approaches

from looking at congruence between individuals needs and organizational demands

(Argyris, 1957); sources of work satisfaction (work design and psychological processes);

Herzberg, Mausner & Snyderman (1959); Vroom (1964) and his valence-instrumentality-

expectancy model; McClelland & Winters (1969) personality-based approach to

motivation; Maslow (1970) and his hierarchy of needs (motives)which is the easiest to

remember; and others. Yet with all this research, Levinson (2006) suggests there is still a

crisis in motivation. He asked executives what the dominant philosophy of motivation is

for American management. Their response was the typical carrot-and-stick philosophy,

reward and punishmentand, they added, it is not working anymore.

Motivational systems are at the center of behavioral organization (Emmons

1999; Steers, Mowday & Shapiro, 2004; Schein, 1980; and Knopf, 1967). Emmons states,

Behavior is a discrepancy-reduction process, whereby individuals act to minimize the

discrepancy between their present condition and a desired standard or goal (1999, p. 28). If we

look at this from the standpoint of how leaders can motivate their followers to enhance their

performance, participation in any organization involves exercising choice; a person chooses

among alternatives, responding to the motivation to perform or ignore what is offered. This

suggests that a followers consideration of personal interests and the desire to expand knowledge

and skill has significant motivational impact, requiring the leader to consider motivating

strategies to enhance performance.

Castelli et al. Motivating Followers 3

As noted above, there are many competing theories of motivation which are offered as

explaining the behavior of people in organizations (Schein, 1980). The diversity of these theories

brought Locke and Latham (2004) to recommend that the theory of motivation must be studied

from new perspectives. Because the topic of employee motivation plays a central role in the

field of management (Steers et al., 2004), attention must be paid to the prospect of motivation as

it moves into the 21st century. The question must be asked, according to Steers et al, how can we

extend or modify current models of work motivation so they continue to be relevant in the

future? (p. 379).

In response to this question, this writing will discuss achievement motive disposition as

important for leaders in gaining an understanding of what motivates their followers. First, we

will review how motivation has been defined and used in organizational settings. Next, we

discuss the differences between low and high self-attributed needs for achievement and

measurements. Third, we focus on both self-attributed and implicit motives to help leaders

understand how they can best motivate their employees and bring it into action to align with

organizational values, vision, mission, goals and objectives. Fourth, we present motivating

strategies from the literature and a new application of the ARCS model as it pertains to an

individuals low or high self-attributed need for achievement. Fifth, we present

recommendations for leaders aimed at increasing followers interest and effort, to enhance their



Steers et al. noted various definitions by writers who have attempted to define the term

motivation, a term that is derived from the Latin word for movement (movere). They note that

Atkinson offers the definition as the contemporary (immediate) influence on direction, vigor,

Castelli et al. Motivating Followers 4

and persistence of action (1964, p. 2) and Vroom offers a process governing choice made by

persons...among alternative forms of voluntary activity: (1964, p.6). According to Maddock and

Fulton, Motivation, surprisingly enough, has not been defined in a scientifically acceptable,

reasonable and legitimate manner. It has not even been defined in a practical, commonsense or

useful manner. According to these authors, leadership is defined in one word: motivation.

They suggest that motivation has not been adequately defined because it is too near to emotion

and no one wants to flirt with emotion (1998, p. xii). Their suggestion that motivation is the

silent side of leadership is pertinent to the tendency of researchers to describe motivation, but

not to explain it. To prepare future leaders to motivate people they must understand how one is


In the 1920s psychologists Thorndike, Woodworth, and Huss moved theorists toward the

concept of learning in motivated behavior suggesting that past actions that lead to positive

outcomes would tend to be repeated. Taylor, an industrial engineer, and his associates focused on

the inefficiencies of factory production proposing a paternalistic approach to management. Social

influences on behavior began to emerge in the 1930s. Group dynamics then emerged (e.g., Mayo,

1933; Roethlisberger and Dickson, 1939; Bendix, 1956) as significant to the motivation of the

individual in the group. Etzioni (1961) offer three types of involvement of organization members

which impact motivation: (1) alienative (not being psychologically involved and forced to be a

member of the group); (2) calculative (involvement to the extent of going a fair days work for a

fair days pay;) and (3) moral (the person intrinsically values the organizations mission and his

or her job and is personally involved (committed) and identified with the organization) (Schein,


Castelli et al. Motivating Followers 5

Moving back to the individual, Rokeach calls attention to determinants that enable or

block motivation stating, There is the basic emotional and motivational attitude of the thinker

to be reckoned with, (1960, p. 177) suggesting the need for leaders to be aware of level of

openness of the person to motivational activities. Leavitt (1972) firmly states that relevance to

ones needs is the most important determinant of ones personal view of the world. It appears

that factors regarding achievement motive are significant to motivational responses and



In 1949, David McClelland & others reported that achievement motive could be induced.

This finding is critical since it suggests that leaders have the ability to influence their followers

behaviors by providing effective motivating techniques. McClelland found that two distinct

motivational systems influence learning behaviors in different ways and that individuals require

different incentives to exert effort and to perform based on their motive type. These motivational

systems are referred to as low or high self-attributed need for achievement.

Self-attributed needs for achievement are defined by Koestner et al. (1991) as self-

reported attitudinal motives. The very first study of self-attributed need achievement

(then called valuing achievement) was conducted by de Charms, Morrison, Reitman, and

McClelland in 1955. In this study, subjects were asked to report their views on various

paintingswith and without expert opinion. The findings indicated that subjects high in self-

attributed need for achievement were more likely to change their views of the quality of

paintings to be more in line with expert opinion than subjects low in self-attributed need for

achievement. This study was significant in that it demonstrated a relationship between external

salient social demands and high self-attributed needs for achievement.

Castelli et al. Motivating Followers 6

Since this time, numerous studies have been conducted under various achievement-

related testing situations with similar results. Under normal testing conditions, individuals with

high self-attributed need for achievement did not perform better on a laboratory task than low

need achievers. However, when an external demand for achievement was added, high need

achievers did perform better than low need achievers (see Atkinson & Litwin, 1960; Koestner,

Weinberger & McClelland, 1991; Patten & White, 1977; McClelland 1985a; Meyer, 1973;

Rayor & Entin, 1982).

Low self-attributed need for achievement is a motive disposition in which the individual

does not attribute achievement to self and incentives are generally task-intrinsic. Becker (1960)

states that task-intrinsic individuals define success by their own internal standard of excellence

and that, furthermore, satisfaction is derived from doing the job well rather than from the

enjoyment of the end product. Their motives are said to be implicit and primarily aroused by

factors intrinsic to the process of performing an activity. Thomas (2002) states that rewards

come from task purposes, namely meaningfulness and progress. The implication: leaders in

organizations would motivate individuals by assigning challenging tasks that stretch their

knowledge and skills.

By contrast, according to McClelland, social-extrinsic individuals seem to have the goal

of attaining approval from others rather than satisfying internal standards. Their motives tend to

be highly self-attributed and are aroused by social factors that are extrinsic to the process of

performing an activity. The inference here in the workplace is for leaders to provide external

stimuli by way of social incentives related to success. Encouragement, ongoing feedback, and

praise often motivate these types of individuals. These incentives and motive types are often not

considered by leaders for improving followers performance.

Castelli et al. Motivating Followers 7

Currently, there is little research available which addresses the relationship between

achievement orientation and specific motivating strategies to enhance performance. Even so,

there is a logical implication that effort and performance can be enhanced when these aspects are

taken into account. By understanding the differences in motivational systems, leaders may be

able to provide incentives and apply various motivating strategies while satisfying both

achievement orientations. This would seem a sensible approach when examining performance in

real world settings.


Since the 50s, numerous studies examined the relationship between implicit and self-

report measures of achievement motive. Researchers concluded that not only were self-report

and implicit measures of achievement motive uncorrelated, but they possessed very different

behavioral relationships (deCharms, Morrison, Reitman, & McClelland, 1955; Heckhausen,

1980; Kreitler & Kreitler, 1976; Korman, 1974; Lowell, 1952). They found that implicit needs

are primarily aroused by factors intrinsic to the process of performing an activity. Self-attributed

needs are aroused by social factors that are extrinsic to the process of performing an activity.

These two different, independent systems of motivation differ in the way they energize, select,

and direct behavior. Table 1 contrasts the two forms of motive based on research from the


--Insert Table 1 here

Koestner, Weinberger & McClelland (1991) designed a research study to examine

possible relationships between motives and incentives. They sought to determine the manner in

which the two types of motives (implicit and self-attributed) combine with two kinds of

Castelli et al. Motivating Followers 8

situational factors (task-intrinsic and social-extrinsic) to affect performance. The results support

the hypothesis that extrinsic social factors in a performance situation are likely to combine with a

persons self-attributed achievement motive to influence performance, whereas task-intrinsic

factors, such as level of challenge, influence performance in conjunction with a persons implicit

need to achieve. Thus, when a memory task was introduced with an explicit emphasis on

achievement, subjects high in self-attributed need for achievement performed better than those

who were low. On the other hand, in a neutral condition the reverse pattern was obtained.

Importantly, it was shown that the implicit need for achievement did not interact with the social

incentives regarding achievement to facilitate performance. These findings support earlier

claims in research literature (Patten and White, 1977; Biernat, 1989).

Koestner et al. (1991) conclude that these results suggest people scoring high in the self-

attributed motives are more likely to selectively remember information relevant to their view of

themselves. This implies that individuals who attribute high achievement motivation to

themselves are vulnerable to performing quite poorly unless some other motivational factor,

either in the form of external incentives or strong implicit motive, is also present. This research

suggests that the challenge for leaders is to devise a systematic approach to coaching that

considers both high and low achievement characteristic needs. In order to do this, leaders must

understand the nature of self-attributed and implicit motives.


In the past thirty years, researchers have focused more on information processing and the

way in which motivational thoughts are converted into action (e.g., Anderson & Glassman, 1996;

Heckhausen & Kuhl, 1985; Weiner, 1972, 1986). This cognitive reorientation of motive theory

has called into question the use of the term "value" to describe self-reported motives. Value is a

Castelli et al. Motivating Followers 9

term that has come to be used to describe normative beliefs about desirable goals and modes of

conduct (Chaiken & Stangor, 1987; Rokeach, 1973, 1979). To avoid misunderstanding,

McClelland, Koestner, & Weinberger (1989) abandoned the term "value" and replaced it with

"self-attributed motives" to describe attitudinal or self-reported motives.

According to McClelland et al. (1989), the cognitive, information-processing model of

human motivation in terms of needs, plans, and goals describes the way self-attributed motives

function much better than the way implicit motives function. Self-attributed motives are

characterized by organized thought; they start with an explicit goal that a person wishes for, then

wants, and then becomes committed to pursuing in various ways (Heckhausen & Kuhl, 1985;

Klinger, 1975, 1987). Klinger, Barta, & Maxeiner (1981) have studied empirically the varieties

of current concerns that people report in interviews and questionnaires. Klinger developed the

notion of a current concern defining it as the commitment to a goal and either the

consummation of the goal or disengagement from it (Klinger, 1977, 1998, noted in Emmons,

1999). Most of the concerns have to do with unattained goals or unfinished business. The more

committed people are to a goal or the more salient it becomes, the greater the likelihood that they

will feel frustrated and unhappy for their slowness or failure in reaching it (McClelland et al.). In

Finemans review, he states, HRM interventions by positive scholars include empowerment

programs to vitalize and positively energize organization, shifting employees toward greater

positive commitment to organizational goals (2006, p. 277).

The situation is different with implicit motives because they are aroused by affective

experiences intrinsic to an activity and not by explicit references to unmet goals (McClelland

et al., 1989). It is especially important to realize that failure to meet a goal is not as apparent to

those with a strong implicit motive. Observers may presume that a person who scores high in

Castelli et al. Motivating Followers 10

implicit tests has a goal of doing better, but that person is not necessarily aware that he or she has

such a goal. This premise is reinforced by Custers & Aarts (2005). They found that positive affect

plays a key role in nonconscious goal pursuit. Their research revealed that nonconscious

activation of desired behavioral states or behavioral goals promotes motivational activity to

accomplish these states. Since there is no correlation between implicit and explicit desires to

achieve, it is not as obvious to a low need achiever when a goal is not being met. In describing

how an implicit motive functions, it is not appropriate to speak of wishing, wanting, and

committing oneself to the goal that is recognized as the natural incentive for that motive

(McClelland et al., 1989). Instead, the motive is better conceived of as leading to an activity that

is the incentive for that motive. Thus, low need achievers have learned through experience to

seek out certain activities that provide the pleasure of moderate challenge. However, they do not

necessarily know that they have a goal of doing better. It seems sensible then, that low need

achievers know less about what is guiding their behavior than do individuals with an explicit or

high self-attributed achievement needs. The literature suggests that low need achievers are

less able to plan appropriate corrective action when things go awry (McClelland, et al., 1989).

According to Seiling & Roux (2006), motivation is seen as something that can be

expanded through applying chosen and spontaneous instances of recognition, affirmation and

reward. They caution, however, that these methods are temporary and less than effective in the

long term. Their work on constructive accountability suggests that motivation processes are

dependent upon ongoing interaction activities with respected others that can include peers,

leaders and/or other influential people. These interactions are what stimulates connection to and

interest in work. They argue that when others disappear or act disinterested in our work, we also

lose interest. This view supports prior research from Koestner, Weinburger & McClelland

Castelli et al. Motivating Followers 11

(1991) regarding subjects who possess high self-attributed needs for achievement. Interaction

with others, including the leader is important for high need achievers. This suggests that

motivating strategies include opportunities for frequent interaction with the leader as well as

team members. For both high and low need achievers, the leaders use of an interesting variety

of coaching techniques and feedback is critical for producing interest and effort.


Locke & Latham (2002) state, Motivation theory in the realm of work needs to draw on

findings from other fields (p. 393) suggesting that social psychology (Bandura, 1986),

educational psychology (Dweck, 1986), and positive organizational psychology (Carmeon et al,

2003) have benefited the study of organization behavior. Kellers work in instructional

motivation is significant to this crossover effect. According to Keller (1983), instructional

motivation attracts learners toward the instruction and increases their efforts in relation to the

subject matter. Kellers (1979) research on motivation, performance, and instructional influence

illustrates how motivation can be integrated with the aspects of instructional science. Kellers

work helps explain what influences a person to approach or avoid a task, and how to make a task

more interesting. Keller clearly distinguishes effort and performance as categories of behavior:

performance means actual accomplishment, whereas effort refers to whether the individual

is engaged in actions aimed at accomplishing the task. Therefore, effort is a direct indicator of

motivation. Deci and Ryan offer self-determination theory proposing that motivated behaviors

vary in the degree to which they are self-determined (autonomous) versus controlled (in

Emmons, 1999). Consequently, according to Keller (1979), people can be viewed as more or less

motivated by the vigor or persistence of their behavior.

Intrinsic and Extrinsic Strategies

Castelli et al. Motivating Followers 12

According to Deci and Moller (1992),

When people are experiencing satisfaction of their basic psychological needs, they tend

to do what interests them. In other words, they tend to be intrinsically motivated. Thus,

intrinsic motivation requires experiencing an activity as interesting, while also feeling

some support for ones basic needs. The fact that interest is so central to intrinsic

motivation implies, of course, that if an individual did not find an activity interesting, he

or she would not be intrinsically motivated for it. Under such circumstances, for the

person to do all the activity at all would require some type of extrinsic motivation

extrinsic motivation being defined as doing an activity for some operationally

separable consequence (p.588, emphasis added).

Expectancy-valence theories (e.g., Porter & Lawler, 1968) had proposed that intrinsic and

extrinsic motivation are additive, yielding total motivation. This led to the suggestion that

activities (learning, work, etc.) should be designed to be as interesting as possible to stimulate

intrinsic motivation and that social contexts should be organized to provide extrinsic rewards that

are contingent upon effective performance at the activities. That way, there would be maximal

motivation, consisting of the sum or the intrinsic motivation from the interesting activities and

the extrinsic motivation form the contingent rewards (p.584). Attribution theory however, made

a different prediction. deCharms (1968) suggested that when people perceive the locus of

causality for their behavior to be within themselves, they tend to be intrinsically motivated, but

when they perceive the locus of causality to be external, they tend to be extrinsically motivated.

Harackewicz and Manderlink (1984) argue that performance-contingent rewards do not

undermine intrinsic motivation but instead enhance it. Performance-contingent rewards are those

given for doing well at an activitythat is, for meeting or surpassing some standard (p.585).

Castelli et al. Motivating Followers 13

Daft (2002) defines motivation as the forces either internal or external to a person that

arouse enthusiasm and persistence to pursue a certain course of action. His simple model of

motivation has four elements: First, a need creates desire to fulfill needs (food, friendship,

recognition, achievement), next behavior results in actions to fulfill needs, third, rewards satisfy

needs either intrinsically or extrinsically, and fourth, feedback informs a person whether the

behavior was appropriate and should be used again. Daft states that intrinsic rewards appeal to

the higher needs of individuals, such as accomplishment, competence, fulfillment, and self-

determination. Extrinsic rewards appeal to the lowerneeds of individuals, such as materials

comfort and basic safety and security. The problem is that conventional management approaches

often appeal to an individuals lower, basic needs and rely on extrinsic rewards and punishments

carrot-and-stick methodsto motivate subordinates to behave in desired ways. According to


Although extrinsic rewards are important, leaders work especially hard to enable

followers to achieve intrinsic rewardsboth individually and systemwide. Employees

who get intrinsic satisfaction from their jobs often put forth increased effortleaders also

strive to create an environment where people feel valued and feel that they are

contributing to something worthwhile, helping followers achieve systemwide intrinsic

rewards (2002, p. 277).

Hughes et al. (2006) describe performance as those behaviors directed toward the

organizations mission or goals, or the products and services resulting from those behaviors.

They state that performance differs from effectiveness, which generally involves making

judgments about the adequacy of behavior with respect to certain criteria such as work-group or

organizational goals. In order for leaders to understand and influence follower motivation,

Castelli et al. Motivating Followers 14

leaders must be knowledgeable about different motivational theories (need, individual difference,

cognitive, and situational). Hughes et al. state, Leaders who are knowledgeable about different

motivational theories are more likely to choose the right theory for a particular follower and

situation, and often have higher-performing and more satisfied employees as a result (p. 247).

Thus, leaders would need to spend more time with their followers to determine what interests

them intrinsically and whenever possible, provide opportunities to perform particular tasks they

find rewarding. Hughes et al. understands that this is not always possible. However, they state

that leaders may be able to get higher-quality work and have more satisfied employees by

reassigning work according to values and intrinsic interests.

Motivational Learning Strategy: The ARCS Model

Keller (1987), Keller and Suzuki (1988), and Keller and Kopp (1987) identified four

categories of motivation in learning situations: attention, relevance, confidence, and satisfaction

(ARCS). According to Keller, the ARCS model contains specific methods or strategies that are

aimed at producing motivational outcomes when learners are lacking sufficient conditions such

as interest or motives.

Attention refers to whether the learners curiosity is aroused and if stimulation can be

sustained over time. Relevance refers to the learners perception of the personal need satisfaction

in relation to the instruction, or whether a highly desired goal is seen as being related to the

learning experience. Confidence refers to the perceived likelihood of success, and the extent to

which success is up to the learner. Satisfaction refers to the combination of external rewards and

internal motivation, and whether these motivators are compatible with the learners anticipations.

Kellers ARCS categories originate from a macro-theory of the relationships of individual and

environmental characteristics on effort, performance, and outcomes.

Castelli et al. Motivating Followers 15

Using Kellers ARCS model, Bohlin, Milheim & Viechnicki (1993) collected data

regarding the instructional motivation perceptions of adults in a variety of learning

environments. College students and community education students were used in this study. Two

instruments were used by Bohlin, Milheim & Viechnicki (1990): the Course Interest Survey

Revised (CISR) and the Course Effort Survey Revised (CESR). By utilizing these instruments,

instructional motivation needs of the two groups of adult learners were identified and analyzed.

The results of the first factor analysis (using the effort responses of learners in college

classes) gave some support to the categories of the ARCS model with each of the first four

factors entirely or predominately composed of items from one category of each (attention,

relevance, confidence, and satisfaction). According to Bohlin et al. (1993), this suggests that the

theoretical nature of the categories in the ARCS Model are consistent with the nature of the self-

reported motivational needs of adults in college courses and workshops. Bohlin believes this

also supports the long standing position that motivation often refers to time-on-task or similar

measures of effort.

Connecting ARCS to Achievement Motive

Prior research from Koestner, Weinburger & McClelland (1991) regarding achievement

motive and instructional motivation needs as assessed by Bohlin, Milheim & Viechnicki (1993)

suggest a correlation between intrinsic/extrinsic needs on effort, performance, and outcomes. It

is helpful to know that although many individuals may possess a mixture of both achievement

orientations, one is usually predominant. Castelli (1994) used the ARCS model in conjunction

with achievement motive to determine appropriate motivating strategies based on the need

orientation of the learner. The major findings of this study centered on the interest variables as

being most critical for predicting self-attributed needs of achievement. In fact, the interest

Castelli et al. Motivating Followers 16

variables were most common to both groups of low and high need achievers. Results that

interest can be used to improve motivation in instruction indicate that learners will exhibit

significant gains in continuing motivation when relevant selections of their interests are utilized.

This is reinforced by Houtz (1994) who notes how interest is necessary for a transfer of learning

from one situation or task to another. The findings also indicated that motivational strategies

vary in their effectiveness dependent upon the need orientation of the learner. The results of this

study suggested guidelines for selecting motivation strategies that may enhance effort and

performance in classroom instruction.


Castellis (1994) study was recently modified for application to organization settings

since it provides useful information for leaders and managers concerning achievement need

preference of their followers in task assignments, levels of challenge, feedback, and reward

systems. Understanding achievement needs, motivational strategies, and profile characteristics

for a given audience may greatly assist management in determining appropriate strategies to

enhance performance output. The needs assessment instruments could also be used to measure

the desires of a particular group (or groups) within an organization with the goal of obtaining

general requirements for various populations. Given these implications, this study was

conducted for use in organizational applications.

Conceptual Model
The conceptual model for this research is illustrated in Figure 1. The model shows

behavioral characteristics that all individuals possess incentives and motives for achievement.

Interest and effort may be correlated to achievement motive. Relationships may also exist

between gender, age and degree status.

Castelli et al. Motivating Followers 17

Figure 1. Conceptual Model for This Study

Self-Attributed Achievement Motive = F (Interest + Effort + Gender, Age and Degree Status)


A random sample of working professionals were determined and appropriate subject

sample sizes were established that consisted of undergraduate, graduate and doctorate students in

a college of management at a private university. The participants were located at various levels in


Three survey instruments were used to conduct this research. For the first survey,

subjects were asked to complete a self-report inventory of the achievement scale using Jacksons

Personality Research Form (1989). This information provided a basis for determining subjects

low and high self-attributed needs for achievement. For the second and third surveys permission

was granted to modify Bohlin et al. (1993) Course Interest Survey Revised and the Course Effort

Survey Revised. The instruments were modified from instructor and student relationships to

leader and follower relationships in order to determine how leaders can better motivate their

followers to enhance performance within their organizations. For the Interest Survey Revised

and the Effort Survey Revised (Castelli, 2006), subjects were asked to rate the importance of

their leaders various motivating strategies with regard to their own interest and effort,

respectively. This information was used to determine strategies leaders can use to effectively

motivate their followers in the workplace. In addition, critical demographic information (gender,

age, degree status) was collected.

Castelli et al. Motivating Followers 18

The validity of Jacksons Personality Research Form is discussed extensively by Jackson

(1989) in the Personality Research Form Manual. Keller and Subhiyah (1987) and Bohlin and

others (1993) also provide validity for the Course Interest and Course Effort Surveys.

Analysis was also performed to determine the overall reliability for all survey instruments used

in this study. The pooled results for Jacksons achievement scale was .65. Individual item

reliability ranged from .61 to .66. Spearman-Browns correction was .71. Bohlin and others

Course Interest and Course Effort Surveys Revised show consistent high reliability, with Effort

(.89) slightly higher than Interest (.85).

These survey instruments provide a strong basis for determining the motivation needs of

followers and specific motivating strategies they value most from their leaders.

Summary of Results

The data indicates that age is significant in all categories of interest (except satisfaction)

and all categories of effort (except relevance). Gender is not significant in the categories of effort

and interest.

Means and standard deviations were also analyzed for each of the items in the Interest

and Effort Surveys. In comparing the results between groups with low or high self-attributed

needs for achievement, the data indicates that nearly identical strategies (leader uses an

interesting variety of coaching techniques, leader is a positive role model, leader builds self-

esteem, appropriate challenge level) were found most important to both groups. The data also

indicates that the high self-attributed need for achievement group rated all of the items as more

important than subjects with low self-attributed need for achievement. Correlations of all

variables were analyzed. The data indicates that age and degree status are common in self-

Castelli et al. Motivating Followers 19

attributed need for achievement. In the motivational characteristic categories of interest and

effort, no significance was seen.

Discriminant analysis was employed to determine if profile and motivational

characteristics could be used to predict low and high self-attributed needs for achievement. The

results of the canonical discriminant functions indicate that the variables used as predictors in

this study (profile and motivation characteristics) is significant and, therefore, can be generalized

to the population to which the study sample was drawn.

Furthermore, the results indicate that in the category of interest, attention was most

powerful in predicting self-attributed needs for achievement. Other powerful predictors were

also in the area of interest (satisfaction and relevance). Satisfaction, confidence, and relevance

(interest) and attention (effort) showed a negative correlation indicating an inverse effect on

motivating strategies. Thus, not employing specific motivating strategies or not employing

motivating strategies effectively can actually de-motivate followers.

Finally, classification results were analyzed to determine how often low and high self-

attributed need for achievement groups could be predicted. The data indicate that with the

predictors used in this study, learners with low self-attributed needs for achievement could be

correctly classified 52.8 percent of the time, and learners with high self-attributed needs for

achievement could be correctly classified 65.4 percent of the time. The classification results

indicate that the profile and motivational characteristics used in this research are fair predictors

in determining self-attributed needs for achievement.

The initial premise for this study suggested that self-attributed needs for achievement

may not always be considered by leaders in organizational settings. Furthermore, failing to

incorporate various motivational strategies to accommodate different need achievement

Castelli et al. Motivating Followers 20

orientations may inhibit follower performance. In addition, the specific motivational needs of

followers may vary based on gender, age, and degree status. The relationships between these

variables were analyzed and reported.

The findings indicate that motivational strategies vary in their effectiveness dependent

upon the need orientation of the follower. Therefore, the approach a leader takes in motivating

his/her followers could accelerate or impede their performance outcomes. The results of this

study suggest guidelines leaders can use for selecting motivation strategies that may enhance

interest and effort to enhance performance. The implications are highlighted below.


1. Attention is an important factor for gaining and sustaining the both need achievers effort.

Motivating strategies should be incorporated that capture the followers interest. Using a

variety of coaching techniques employed by the leader that include feedback on performance

is also important. Making the follower feel enthusiastic about the challenge may enhance

effort. Executive coaching has been found as most effective when it genuinely applies to

ones inner desires and capacities (Kauffman & Scoular, 2004).

2. Relevance is a very important component for both need achiever groups. This is evident in

the area of interest where leader viewed as a positive role model is a critical attribute to all

respondents. In the area of effort, appropriate challenge level is important to the low need

achievers whereas working with others is most important to the high need achievers.

3. Confidence is a significant factor to both need achiever groups in both the interest and effort

categories. A leaders ability to build followers self-esteem is viewed as vital. Consistency

should also be maintained to produce ongoing effort and for sustaining interest. However,

Castelli et al. Motivating Followers 21

interest and effort may decline for both groups if the leader fails to establish trust, or

undermines the capabilities of followers worth.

4. Satisfaction is important to facilitate continuing motivation for both interest and effort.

Finding levels of challenge that are appropriate is important to both need achiever groups.

Results suggest that for the high need achievers, interest and effort may be contingent upon

the personal satisfaction obtained from the learning experience. Therefore, projects and tasks

should be designed to meet the personal needs of the individual.

5. High need achievers cited all categories of attention, relevance, confidence and satisfaction

for both interest and effort as more important than low need achievers. This implies the

increased need for the leaders involvement in their daily activities.

6. The age of the individual may be correlated to self-attributed needs for achievement. The

results suggest that the older the individual, the more they tend to be high need achievers.

Similarly, the more education individuals possess, the higher the tendency for self-attributed

needs for achievement.

7. Gender does not appear to be a factor in determining low or high self-attributed needs for


8. Overall, the leaders ability to increase followers effort is most important in continuing


The major findings of this study centered on the leaders ability to build self-esteem of

their followers and importance of leaders to be viewed as positive role models. Results that

interest and effort can be used to improve motivation indicate that followers will exhibit

significant gains in continuing motivation when relevant selections of these strategies/attributes

are practiced by the leader.

Castelli et al. Motivating Followers 22

Since effort categories were cited as most important for both low and high need

achievers, improving their desire to return to task (effort) remains an important objective. The

increased desire to persist in a task has long-range implications for advancements in learning and

performance. This implies that a more intensified use of effort variables in motivating followers

may prove beneficial. For convenience of the reader, Table 2 provides a brief overview of need

achievement preferences.

--Insert Table 2 here--


While a leader may be quite pleased with the output of his or her staff, it is more than

likely that there is room for improvement. Understanding what motivates followers to

perform their best work is key in order to achieve the highest level of satisfaction for both the

leader and your team. Also, it is crucial that the leader puts this understanding to use by

consistently providing the incentives and tools which he or she finds to be effective.

The findings indicate that the motivational needs of the low and high need achievers

do not differ as much as was first believed. Both achiever types indicated that effort was more

critical than interest. The effort put forth by the follower is enhanced by the leaders ability and

willingness to use an interesting variety of coaching techniques, appropriate challenge levels, and

self-esteem building methods for both achiever groups. The same is true in the area of interest,

although both groups found that their interest in a given area was secondary to the effort they

made when attempting to accomplish their goals. It was concluded that both the low and high

need achievers require essentially the same qualities of their leaders in order to enhance their


It is the effective leaders job to build self-esteem, to set appropriate challenge levels, to

Castelli et al. Motivating Followers 23

utilize motivating coaching techniques, and so on, regardless of the followers particular achiever

traits. The leaders role in promoting interest and effort is critical to the followers success. Also,

the leader must serve as a positive role model, despite the indication that the low need achiever is

intrinsically motivated. Proper application of specific motivating strategies will help both low

and high need achievers, may increase interest and effort, and will ultimately fulfill the objective

of enhanced performance.

Castelli et al. Motivating Followers 24

Table 1. A Summary of the Characteristics and Behaviors of Achievement Motive

Describing Trait Low Self-Attributed High Self-Attributed

and Reference Need for Achievement Need for Achievement

Drive Energized by natural More extrinsic and

Koestner & incentives for variety outcomes focused in nature
McClelland, 1990 and challenge

Discovery Approach Associated with feelings Feelings of pressure and tension

Koestner & of interest and surprise
McClelland, 1990

Performance Behavior Individuals cherish the Individuals behave in a competent

Koestner & process of performing manner as defined by the
McClelland, 1990 an activity particular situation

Incentive Guided by self-reactions; Governed by an acquired desire

Koestner & satisfaction in anticipating to perform like an achiever;
McClelland, 1990 task success guided by social reactions

Success Internal standard of External standards that are

Becker, 1960 excellence recognized by others

Risk Preference for Greater avoidance of

Atkinson & Litwin, intermediate risk intermediate risk

Persistence Greater persistence Unrelated to persistence

Atkinson & Litwin,

Conditioning Operants spontaneous Respondents predictive

McClelland, 1980 behavior trends of immediate choice behaviors

Castelli et al. Motivating Followers 25

Table 2. A Summary of Need Achievement Preferences for Leader Motivation

Characteristics Low Need Achievers High Need Achievers*

Interest: Overall less critical Overall less critical

than effort than effort

Attention Leader uses an interesting Leader uses an interesting

variety of coaching techniques variety of coaching techniques

Relevance Leader is a positive role Leader is a positive role

model model
Confidence Leader builds self-esteem Leader builds self-esteem

Satisfaction Appropriate challenge level Appropriate challenge level,

Leader helps me accomplish
my personal goals

Effort: Overall more critical Overall more critical than

than interest interest
Attention Leader uses an interesting Leader uses an interesting
variety of coaching techniques variety of coaching techniques

Relevance Appropriate challenge level Working with other people

Confidence Leader builds self-esteem Leader builds self-esteem
Satisfaction Appropriate challenge Leader helps me accomplish
level my personal goals

Demographics: ARCS strategies cited ARCS strategies cited

as less critical as more critical
Gender Least critical Least critical
Age Younger learners more apt Older learners more apt
to be low need achievers to be high need achievers
Degree Less education apt to More education apt to
Status be low need achievers be high need achievers

* Note: In all cases, the high need achievers cited each motivating strategy (ARCS) within the
interest and effort variables as more important than the low need achievers.

Castelli et al. Motivating Followers 26


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