Motivation: Theory and Research

By Harold F. O'Neil Jr.; Michael Drillings | Go to book overview

9
The Relation Between Soldier Motivation, Leadership, and Small Unit Performance

Guy L. Siebold

U.S. Army Research Institute for the Behavioral and Social Sciences, Alexandria, Virginia

The research presented here focuses on the motivation and leadership found in 22 light infantry platoons and how the levels of these factors related to the performance of the platoons on a subsequent extended field training exercise. The research is part of a wider project to identify the "determinants" of small unit performance ( Tremble & Alderks, 1991). The articulation of the relations between motivation, leadership, and performance is important for programs for improvement in these areas, for use in assessing training, and for developing models to compare the combat capabilities of various actual or hypothetical forces.

A current stream of leadership research (e.g., Blades, 1986; Fiedler & Garcia, 1987) considers how the resources available to a leader, such as his ability and leadership style, relate to group performance under varying conditions of group member motivation, cohesion, and ability. The research presented here is based on a shift of this framework. Certain characteristics of the group (e.g., group members' mean level of motivation) are treated as group resources that are related to group performance under strong or weak leadership conditions. Specifically, this human resource perspective considers that the relative performance of a small military unit is a direct function of the relative level of human resources available to the unit under positive leadership conditions (assuming equipment, tactics, and the general military situation are held sufficiently constant).

The human resource perspective is derived from this author's experience and based on personnel management, the nature of the small unit, and the function of leadership. The perspective is a way of looking at or studying the human elements that impact upon small group performance. Human resources are the collective capabilities of a group's members -- their levels of motivation, cohe-

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