How Achievement Motivation Theory Fits Roles in Education

Achievement Motivation Theory is an approach that emphasizes leadership through focusing on achievement through individual efforts  (House & Aditya, 1997). It focuses on leadership through Achievement Motivation, and emphasizes individual effort and outcomes. This approach to leadership is relevant to work within a classroom, as well as in other roles in school. According to House & Aditya (1997)...

Every educator should be able to "set challenging goals for themselves, assume personal responsibility for goal accomplishment, persistent in pursuit of goals, take risks, use feedback." (p. 413)

My classmate, Emmanuel Taiwo, responded to my thoughts by expressing agreement that achievement motivation theory is relevant to work within the classroom. According to him...

"Achievement-motivated teachers constantly seek improvements and better ways of teaching and supporting students. Further, student engagement – on-task behaviors, work completion, and participation -- is a major observable manifestation of achievement motivation in the classroom." - classmate Emmanuel Taiwo

I thought about his response, and expanded on my thoughts. I agreed with him -- the role of a teacher is complemented by being open to feedback and self-improvement. This seems to be the nature of any educator. I wonder if various forms of teacher evaluation (including, as you mention, student engagement as a measure of teacher effectiveness) are a way for teachers to gauge their own achievement and go from there.

How Achievement Motivation Theory Fits My Leadership Style

According to House and Aditya (1997), people motivated by high achievement frequently tend to self-regulate their behavior, without needing advice or training -- this is a cornerstone of Achievement Motivation Theory. On a personal level, this theory also complements my existing leadership qualities and nature, as I am motivated by observing growth and achievement in those around me, and by extension, my own achievement. This makes sense, and compliments my perception of how I operate as a leader.

"High achievement motivated individuals engage spontaneously in a high degree of self-regulatory behavior such as that described by social cognitive psychologists… without training or directions from others." - House & Aditya, 1997

My existing leadership qualities are most likely to be complimented by Achievement Motivation Theory. Its emphasis on achievement through individual efforts feels accessible for me in my current role as a teacher and leader to peers, as it allows for me to focus on challenging goals I may set for myself, and focus on assuming personal responsibility goals I set, and collect information and data to work toward those goals (House & Aditya, 1997).

Achievement motivation can be defined as the need for success or the attainment of excellence. Individuals will satisfy their needs through different means, and are driven to succeed for varying reasons both internal and external.

Why Achievement Motivation Theory is the Best Fit for Education

Achievement Motivation Theory is a better approach to examining and improving leadership in education compared to other approaches. For instance, autocratic leadership styles may be tough to implement, and may be inappropriate. Our work as educators, by nature, requires collaboration and flexibility, and is thus ill-suited to leadership of that nature. Yes, a good leader should be able to make good decisions, but he or she should not do so without a genuine understanding of both the needs and the interests of the group he or she serves. This is absolutely true for education leaders (administrators, policy makers, higher level leaders, etc.) but it is also true for teachers in classrooms. Students' learning preferences and needs should also always inform instruction directly. In any role, education leaders need to collaborate with all stakeholders before making decisions that impact the lives of students.

LMP and charismatic leadership theory (House & Aditya, 1997) are emphasize motivating others, especially subordinates (p. 415) toward an action. But teacher leaders do not necessarily lead subordinates (or even feel that they have subordinates!), nor do they necessarily always feel they have to motivate their team toward new beliefs. Instead, teacher leaders may be more focused on motivation toward a particular action to support beliefs the team already holds, given that the team is comprised of caring and motivated educators as well (the phrase preaching to the choir comes to mind). Further, I do not much think about “social influence behavior” (p. 414).

House, R.J. & Aditya, R.N (1997). The social scientific study of leadership: Quo vadis? Journal of Management, 23, 409-473.