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










Literature Review

The chapter is a review of Literature regarding the impact of leadership empowerment and the results experienced by an organization when it employs leadership empowerment. In the chapter leadership empowerment is discussed in the context of the self-determination theory.

Empowering Leadership

Every organization that hopes to be successful needs to embrace teams and teams can only be successful under the patronage of good leadership. Leadership is defined as the guidance afforded to followers for achieving the team’s goals. Leadership empowers teams by helping individuals work in unison towards the achievement of common goals (Menon, 2001; Boudrias et al., 2009). It allows for the integration of various skills and knowledge within the team for the achievement of the goals of the organization. The conduct and behavior of the leader are important in fostering empowering leadership which in turn enables individuals to develop qualities such as self-control, self-management, and self-leadership (Tung & Chang, 2015). Empowering leadership makes it possible to delegate duties to subordinates in the organization which in turns offers the subordinate the opportunity to enjoy autonomy in the execution of these duties by exercising self-management and self-direction in the achievement of the objectives of the organization (Hill & Huq, 2004; Spreitzer, De Janasz & Quinn, 1999). Contemporary organizations have embraced empowering leadership as an integral tool in achieving organizational success.

Employee Proactivity

Employees are not cogs in the system that allow things to play out in which ever ways that they will but rather they are actively involved in the attempts to shape what happens in their lives and the outcomes of the organization. Employees can shape the outcomes of the organization through proactive behavior (Grant & Ashford, 2008). Proactive behavior refers to employees’ anticipatory acts which involve employees taking personal initiative to influence achievement of the organization’s goals (Dickinson, 1995). Empowering leadership has a role to play in motivating proactive behavior (Müller, 2006). Literature available on empowering leadership suggests that supportive leadership creates a high sense of self-determination in employees be it among teams or individual employees (Thomas, Whitman & Viswesvaran, 2010). This role of empowering leadership is explained by the self-determination theory.

Self-determination Theory

Proponents of this theory propose that individuals are endowed with the power to grow. Individuals’ inclination towards growth and development is made manifest in the regulation of individual behaviors and goals that individuals pursue (Van den Broeck, Vansteenkiste & De Witte, 2008; Chirkov, 2003; Gagné & Deci, 2005). The theory suggests that behavior among employees that is initially extrinsically motivated needs to be intrinsically motivated so that individuals can gain internalized control of their behaviors (Gagné, 2009).

Importance of Studying Empowering Leadership and Self-determination Theory

The study of empowering leadership is important because it is central to determining employee behavior in fostering the achievement of organizational goals. By understanding empowering leadership, organizations can take the relevant steps in offering employees the support that they require to aid in the achievement of organizational goals. In line with this goal, the self-determination theory offers insight on how leaders can help employees move from being extrinsically motivated towards proactive behavior to channeling such behavior form within, that is, intrinsic motivation (Deci, Koestner & Ryan, 1999). The theory reveals how employees can be more active in aiding the achievement of organizational goals which lead to the achievement of organizational success.

This study is relevant because previous research has neglected to focus on how empowering leadership helps subordinates in the work environment gain autonomy in their motivation to working towards achievement of organizational goals. The study cements previous finding regarding the relationship between empowering leadership and its role in inciting autonomous behavior in subordinate employees in an organization.













Boudrias, J. S., Gaudreau, P., Savoie, A., & Morin, A. J. (2009). Employee empowerment: From managerial practices to employees’ behavioral empowerment. Leadership & Organization Development Journal, 30(7), 625-638. Available at doi/abs/10.1108/01437730910991646.

Chirkov, V., Ryan, R. M., Kim, Y., & Kaplan, U. (2003). Differentiating autonomy from individualism and independence: a self-determination theory perspective on internalization of cultural orientations and well-being. Journal of personality and social psychology, 84(1), 97. Available at doi 10.1007/s11031-014-9450-1.

Deci, E. L., Koestner, R., & Ryan, R. M. (1999). A meta-analytic review of experiments examining the effects of extrinsic rewards on intrinsic motivation. Psychological bulletin, 125(6), 627. Available at https://www.google.com/search?q=Deci%2C+E.+L.%2C+Koestner%2C+R.%2C+%26+Ryan%2C+R.+M.+%281999%29.+A+meta-analytic+review+of+experiments+examining+the+effects+of+extrinsic+rewards+on+intrinsic+motivation.+Psychological+bulletin%2C+125%286%29%2C+627.&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&client=firefox-b.

Dickinson, L. (1995). Autonomy and motivation a literature review. System, 23(2), 165-174. Available at https://www.google.com/search?q=Dickinson%2C+L.+%281995%29.+Autonomy+and+motivation+a+literature+review.+System%2C+23%282%29%2C+165-174.&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&client=firefox-b.

Gagné, M. (2009). A model of knowledge-sharing motivation. Human Resource Management, 48(4), 571. Available at https://www.google.com/search?q=Gagn%C3%A9%2C+M.+%282009%29.+A+model+of+knowledge-sharing+motivation.+Human+Resource+Management%2C+48%284%29%2C+571.&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&client=firefox-b.

Gagné, M., & Deci, E. L. (2005). Self‐determination theory and work motivation. Journal of Organizational behavior, 26(4), 331-362. Available at DOI: 10.1002/job.322.

Grant, A. M., & Ashford, S. J. (2008). The dynamics of proactivity at work. Research in organizational behavior, 28, 3-34. Available at https://www.google.com/search?q=Grant%2C+A.+M.%2C+%26+Ashford%2C+S.+J.+%282008%29.+The+dynamics+of+proactivity+at+work.+Research+in+organizational+behavior%2C+28%2C+3-34.&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&client=firefox-b.

Hill, F., & Huq, R. (2004). Employee empowerment: conceptualizations, aims and outcomes. Total Quality Management and Business Excellence, 15(8), 1025-1041. Available at doi:



Menon, S. (2001). Employee empowerment: An integrative psychological approach. Applied Psychology, 50(1), 153-180. Available at https://www.google.com/search?q=Menon%2C+S.+%282001%29.+Employee+empowerment%3A+An+integrative+psychological+approach.+Applied+Psychology%2C+50%281%29%2C+153-180.&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&client=firefox-b.

Müller, G. F. (2006). Dimensions of self-leadership: A German replication and extension. Psychological reports, 99(2), 357-362. Available at doi: 10.2466/pr0.99.2.357-362.

Spreitzer, G. M., De Janasz, S. C., & Quinn, R. E. (1999). Empowered to lead: The role of psychological empowerment in leadership. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 511-526. Available at doi:10.1002/(SICI)1099-1379(199907)20:4<511::AID-JOB900>3.0.CO;2-L.

Thomas, J. P., Whitman, D. S., & Viswesvaran, C. (2010). Employee proactivity in organizations: A comparative meta‐analysis of emergent proactive constructs. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 83(2), 275-300. Available at DOI: 10.1348/096317910X502359.

Tung, H.L. & Chang, Y.H. (2011). Effects of empowering leadership on performance in management team: Mediating effects of knowledge sharing and team cohesion. Journal of Chinese Human Resource Management 2 (1): 43-60. Available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/20408001111148720.

Van den Broeck, A., Vansteenkiste, M., & De Witte, H. (2008). Self-determination theory: A theoretical and empirical overview in occupational health psychology. Available at doi: 10.1111/cdev.12355.


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 )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ 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 )


Connecting to %s