Title: “The influence of empowering leadership on subordinates’ autonomous work motivation and their proactivity within a self-determination theory perspective






Title: “The influence of empowering leadership on subordinates’ autonomous work motivation and their proactivity within a self-determination theory perspective











Empowering leadership

Literature review

This chapter reviews the literature on empowering leadership, the impact of leadership empowerment and the outcome of empowering leadership in the organization. The review of literature entails empowering leadership based on the background of self-determination theory perspective.

Empowering leadership

Leadership is defined as guiding or directing a group of people or organization (Gallos, 2008). Several kinds of literature have established various perspective and standpoints of leadership. From a broad review, study on leadership indicates that build-up factors (intrinsic or adopted) seem to increase the well-being of the employees and motivation as far as the organizational culture is concerned (Deci & Ryan, 2000).  According to Den Hartog & Belschak (2012), empowering leadership entails the various set of leader conducts or behaviors. These behaviors are directed towards developing the self-capabilities, self-control, self-management as well as the self-leadership of the people being led (Hauschildt & Konradt, 2012). Empowering leaders involve delegation of extensive responsibility to followers which in turn creates an environment that allows employees (followers) to gratify needs for autonomy through exercising self-control as well as self-direction based on the organizational objectives (Liao, 2012). In this case, empowering leadership creates an opportunity where employees can make viable decisions and carry them the way it is expected. Since the beginning of the 21st century, there has been an increase attention with organizations in promoting autonomy particularly in self-management of teams (Stewart, 2006). Similar to this attention, the organizations have also embraced empowering of leaders/leadership as a new direction of creating a successful environment (Erkutlu, 2012).

Empowering Leadership and subordinates’ proactivity 

Several researchers have examined leadership support when it comes to promoting proactivity among employees in the organization. The central argument for these arguments is that having leadership support nurtures a high sense of self-determination among individuals and teams (Nie et al., 2014). For example, a study by De Stobbeleir, Ashford, & Sully de Luque (2010)reveals that leadership support predicts different forms of proactive behaviors such as the implementation of new ideas, creative performance as well as organizational environment initiatives. Furthermore, the null reaction revealed in the study by Stewart (2006) shows that leadership support has unrealized predictive effect when it comes to idea suggestion. In most cases, groups and teams may have diverse reactions towards a new initiative in the organization.

Social determination theory perspective

Self-determination theory suggests that individuals have essential basic psychological needs for self-sufficiency/autonomy and relatedness (Burton et al., 2006). In this case, the need for self-sufficiency/autonomy entails the aspiration to do things in freedom and choice (Deci & Ryan, 2008).  According to Roche and Haar (2011), individuals working in organizations would expect the organization to satisfy their needs to enhance the desired outcome.

Empowering leadership importance    

Empowering leadership in the organization play a key role in stimulating creativity and proactivity in employees particularly with diverse characteristics (Ruckdäschel, 2014). According to Joo, Yang and McLean, (2014), to create an effective background for promoting creativity in employees, managers ought to determine whether group individuals and teams have the capacity to direct and guide the initiative towards a set goal. Also, studying of empowering leadership opens up the opportunity to realize ways of creating competitive advantage within the organization. According to Gagné & Deci (2005), employees who are more motivated are more likely to achieve high results as far as organizational objectives are concerned.

Empowering of leadership conduct or behavior has received relatively less focus when it comes to understanding the subordinates’ autonomous work motivation compared to other leadership aspects such as transformational leadership. Therefore, the important part of this study focuses on the extension of prior researches by examining the relationship between empowering leadership and subordinates’ autonomous behavior.









Burton, K., Lydon, J., D’Alessandro, D., & Koestner, R. (2006). The differential effects of intrinsic and identified motivation on well-being and performance: Prospective, experimental, and implicit approaches to self-determination theory. Journal Of Personality And Social Psychology91(4), 750-762. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.91.4.750

De Stobbeleir, K., Ashford, S., & Sully de Luque, M. (2010). Proactivity with image in mind: How employee and manager characteristics affect evaluations of proactive behaviours. J Occup Organ Psychol83(2), 347-369. http://dx.doi.org/10.1348/096317909×479529

Deci, E. & Ryan, R. (2000). The “What” and “Why” of Goal Pursuits: Human Needs and the Self-Determination of Behavior. Psychological Inquiry11(4), 227-268. http://dx.doi.org/10.1207/s15327965pli1104_01

Deci, E. & Ryan, R. (2008). Self-determination theory: A macrotheory of human motivation, development, and health. Canadian Psychology/Psychologie Canadienne49(3), 182-185. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0012801

Den Hartog, D. & Belschak, F. (2012). When does transformational leadership enhance employee proactive behavior? The role of autonomy and role breadth self-efficacy. Journal Of Applied Psychology97(1), 194-202. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0024903

Erkutlu, H. (2012). The impact of organizational culture on the relationship between shared leadership and team proactivity. Team Performance Management18(1/2), 102-119. http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/13527591211207734

Gagné, M. & Deci, E. (2005). Self-determination theory and work motivation. Journal Of Organizational Behavior26(4), 331-362. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/job.322

Gallos, J. (2008). Business leadership. London: John Wiley & Sons. Available at https://books.google.co.ke/books?id=o1cSJfQYrQAC&dq=Gallos,+(2013).+Business+leadership.&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Hauschildt, K. & Konradt, U. (2012). Self‐leadership and team members’ work role performance.Journal Of Managerial Psychology27(5), 497-517. http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/02683941211235409

Joo, B., Yang, B., & McLean, G. (2014). Employee creativity: the effects of perceived learning culture, leader–member exchange quality, job autonomy, and proactivity. Human Resource Development International17(3), 297-317. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13678868.2014.896126

Liao, P. (2012). The Role of Self-Concept in the Mechanism Linking Proactive Personality to Employee Work Outcomes. Applied Psychology64(2), 421-443. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/apps.12003

Nie, Y., Chua, B., Yeung, A., Ryan, R., & Chan, W. (2014). The importance of autonomy support and the mediating role of work motivation for well-being: Testing self-determination theory in a Chinese work organisation. Int J Psychol50(4), 245-255. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ijop.12110

Roche, Maree and Haar, Jarrod (2011) Self-determination theory and job outcomes: The moderating effects of perceived autonomous support. In: Academy of Management 71st Annual Meeting: West meets East: Enlightening. Balancing. Transcending., 12-16 August, 2011, San Antonio, Texas. Available at http://researcharchive.wintec.ac.nz/1207/

Ruckdäschel, S. (2014). Leadership of networks and performance. London: Springer.

Ryan, R. & Deci, E. (2000). Self-determination theory and the facilitation of intrinsic motivation, social development, and well-being. American Psychologist55(1), 68-78. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0003-066x.55.1.68

Stewart, G. (2006). A Meta-Analytic Review of Relationships Between Team Design Features and Team Performance. Journal Of Management32(1), 29-55. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0149206305277792


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: