Motivating employees is critical to the sustenance of an organization. Human capital in the workplaces is considered one of the most important resources, since it is part of the organizational culture. Leaders must understand that different employees are motivated by different things, an indication that employees should be handled differently in the places of work (Vroom, 2004). Positive work environments create great workplaces and in return motivate employees in realizing their potential within the organization. Happy employees in most cases results to high productivity, which is better considering the bottom-line of a business. There has been diverse research work on employee perceptions, employee satisfaction and the success of an organization (Maslow, 2011). Some of the employee motivators identify with bonuses, perks, amenities, education, positive recognition and day-offs among others. This paper critically considers leadership and motivation at a local supermarket where Alex, Stephanie, Denise and Jean work. Jonathan and Dan are some of the leaders in the organization.

Case Study

Alex and Stephanie are students at a local University within the state; they are also employed at a local supermarket. They came to know of one another at the supermarket, while they worked under different leaders. Alex and Stephanie use their earnings in paying school fees and also for basic maintenance. The job is not well paying, but offers flexibility particularly useful in scheduling classes. Stephanie who is working under Jonathan is motivated as compared to Alex who is de-motivated. Alex works under Dan, it has been noted that Jonathan allow Stephanie to work in stocking  shelves, at the checkout counter and also work at the Culinary center. Jonathan style of leadership is characterized with relaxed meaningful style and a friendly demeanor.

Stephanie likes working at the culinary, where she is allowed to interact with the customers and the vendors of the ingredients needed. Stephanie is also motivated by Jonathan by getting bonuses for every met target within the department. Setting of the goals is done in collaboration of the two parties. Stephanie has come to understand how a supermarket works.

Alex is de-motivated by Dan since same work is assigned to him, and the communication between the two parties is stained. Dan allows Denise to work in other stations and is paid better than Alex despite doing the same job and joining the supermarket only three months later, while Alex has worked for more than two years. Jean who has worked for more than seven years is paid little money than Alex, an indication that Dan is discriminative in nature.

Theories of Motivation

Incentive Theory of Motivation

Incentive theory of motivation argues that people behave the way they do because they are motivated by external rewards (Beck, 2003). It has been noted that Stephanie is motivated by Jonathan; taking a critical look at the culinary department, Jonathan engages Stephanie in setting up the goals of the culinary department, a move that has motivated Stephanie in attaining the goals. Incentive theory of motivation is also shaped by the form of reinforcement and association between the parties involved (Beck, 2003).

Jonathan can be considered as an ideal leader, as compared to Dan. Jonathan has recognized that motivated employees are part of the ethical practices that are incorporated in the organizational culture. Jonathan has facilitated in organizing physical, human and financial resources for efficient and effective attainment of the relevant organizational goals. Jonathan has developed sophisticated leadership skills by communicating to Stephanie on the shared vision; a model that has in return empowered and motivated Stephanie to an extent that Stephanie has gained skills of operating a supermarket. Stephanie is motivated to an extent that she is innovative, since she is allowed to make decisions within the department.

Dan on the other side should be scrapped off his roles as a leader, his communication skills are poor, and an example is when he scolded Alex while taking lunch saying that university students should be time conscious. The remarks were sarcastic considering that time allowed for a break was forty five minutes while Dan sliced it to only thirty minutes. Dan discriminates his operations against Alex, Denise and Jean. Denise is favored more than others and gets a better pay despite doing the same work and joining the organization recently.

Instinct Theory of Motivation

Instinct theory of motivation argues that the behaviors of people are attached to the way they are programmed depending on the environment. An example is the way animals migrate in search of water and food depending on seasons. The pattern of behavior in animals in inborn,  William James attached the instinct theory of motivation to play, anger, fear, shame, shyness, love and modesty among other attributes (Beck, 2003).

In the same way, Alex is de-motivated by the leadership of Dan, to an extent that he has feelings of fear, resentment and shame. Alex to some extent feels like quitting the job. The organizational culture is inclusive, since Stephanie is working in the same organization and she is satisfied with the job she does, unlike Alex who feels ill of his job. He is forced to work at the same place and time everyday; communication between Dan and Alex is poor. An example is when Dan found Alex taking lunch with Stephanie, the comments from Dan were awful to an extent that Stephanie commented on back on ‘what a jerk’.

The workplace climate in the organization is shaped by the type of leadership displayed by Dan and Jonathan. Intrinsic actions of Alex are against the organization, basing on the de-motivation that has been facilitated by Dan. Stephanie is willing to go a step further in improving the supermarket, particularly at the culinary department basing on the intrinsic attributes that has been cultivated by Jonathan in her. Stephanie feel empowered in managing change within the department she is working in. The perceptions on the supermarket depending on Stephanie and Alex are shaped by the intrinsic feelings they have on their leaders. Motivated employees result to high productivity as compared to de-motivated employees

Leadership Theories

Contingency Leadership Theory

Contingency leadership theory focuses on a number of variables in the immediate environment in determining the best style of leadership. It has been noted that different situations calls for different  actions by the leaders. There is no leadership style that fits all situations, each and every leadership style is applicable in diverse contexts. Contingency theory of leadership argues that success depends on qualities attached to the followers, prevalent leadership style and depending on the work environment (Kriger & Seng, 2005).

In this case, Jonathan had created a work environment that has build trust between him and Stephanie, this has been influential in empowering the employee to an extent that Stephanie is innovative, particularly at the culinary department. Jonathan can be considered to be a great leader due to the combination of his personality traits and also depending on the prevailing organizational culture. It has been noted that within the supermarket, majority of the employees prefer working under Jonathan, as compared to Dan.

Leadership attributes between Dan and Jonathan are very different, to an extent that they influence the motivation and the productivity of the organization. Human history is characterized with different leadership attributes, may it be at the workplaces, at homes and in the society. Jonathan is an ideal leader since his work has distinguished him from other leaders within the organization. Jonathan is a role model to Stephanie and to other employees in general, he has managed forming a team with Stephanie in realizing the desired goals within the organization.

Jonathan has stood against the critics, his actions are more than words, has encouraged Stephanie to adapt to the working environment, he has enhanced assertiveness and that Jonathan has encouraged balance. Other attributes noted in Jonathan identified with; building trust, enhancing development, encouraging coaching, excellent communication skills, having confidence, showing consistency, fostering creativity and showing dedication to his work. Jonathan has also showed empathy, enthusiasm, work ethics, honesty and fairness among other leadership attributes.

Management Theories

Management theories are also referred to as the transactional theories, it focuses at supervision and the roles played by supervision in realizing the organizational goals (Sheldrake, 2002). Management theories base the leadership styles on rewards and punishment models (Kriger & Seng, 2005). It can be argued that Jonathan is using his leadership in building a better workplace, while Dan is engaging abusive supervision to transverse the rights of employees.

Dan is using abusive supervision in meeting the goals of the organization, even if the employees are not motivated. Taking a critical look at Alex, Dan does not create time to listen to the plights of the employees, he strongly believes that employees become experts in one area after working on the same work continuously, a concept that is highly disputed by the employees since they get bored in doing the same work over and over again. Abusive supervision between Dan and Alex has extended to verbal and non verbal behaviors that are discouraging employees working in the organization. An example is when Dan put down Alex in front of Stephanie, asserting that university student should be better time keepers than Alex. Alex felt agitated to an extent that he did not finish up his food, he put it aside and went on to the workplace. There are better ways of handling such a situation that Dan could have used rather than using abusive supervision.

Abusive supervision has led to negative attitude in Alex among other employees, which in return has led to bad behaviors in Alex and also to psychological torture. At one time, Alex mishandled a sandwich labeled Dan due to the bad attitudes; accumulated abusive supervision ultimately leads to aggressive events like strikes inside the work places.   Dan should improve his social interactions in dealing with employees.

In conclusion, Alex should confront Dan and tell him on his successes and on his fears, there are high chances that Dan will rubbish the information, but the information is critical for the overall business health of the supermarket. Dan should learn from Jonathan on the best ways of handling employees and in doing away with abusive supervision. Times have changed with modernization to an extent that employee in the twenty first century value dialogue and not abusive supervision (Pinder, 2008).




Beck, R. C. (2003). Motivation: Theories and Principles. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson.

Kriger, M. & Seng, Y. (2005). Leadership with inner meaning. Stamford, Connecticut: Cengage Learning.

Maslow, A. H. (2011). Hierarchy of Needs: A Theory of Human Motivation . New York:

Pinder, C. C. (2008). Work Motivation in Organizational Behavior. London: Taylor & Francis.

Sheldrake, J. (2002). Management Theory . Stamford, Connecticut: Cengage Learning EMEA.

Vroom, V. H. (2004). Work and Motivation. Hoboken, New Jersey: Jossey-Bass.





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