Motivation is a special feature attached to psychological, cognitive, and behavioral areas in the life of a human being. Motivation is a “driving force that compels an action towards a desired goal in life, and psychiatrists argue that motivation is an impulse that optimizes a person’s well-being by minimizing physical pain and maximizing pleasure” (Hertel, 2003, p.9). In addition, motivation accelerates the realization of desired goals in human life.
To achieve success, there has to be a motivation that keeps the players on their toes until they achieve it. It keeps a person on the right track, thus enabling quick recovery from difficult situations. After setting a goal in life, it becomes a desire, and thus motivation is required to achieve that goal. Motivation removes fears and unnecessary anxieties that result from foreseen uncertainties (Montana & Charnov, 2008).
Motivation is very crucial in the working environments whereby leaders motivate their subordinates for organizations to achieve the desired results (Robbins & Judge, 2009). Many successful people give credit to motivation that kept them on their toes until they succeeded in whatever task they set out to achieve. Students also require motivation to achieve high grades in their studies and thus those who do not perform well lack motivation.
In addition, motivation forms a crucial part of human life. Right from childhood to adulthood, numerous motivations accompany an individual. In childhood, a person desires to grow up and excel like those individuals that are worth a person’s admiration. For instance, if a young boy admires his father because of his huge body size and material possessions. The father may motivate the son by telling him that he is huge due to eating well and material possessions are the results of hard work in education and his work. Consequently, the son gets motivated and is compelled to acquire behaviors that would result in him becoming like his father.
Various theories emphasize the knowledge of motivation. In 1943, Abraham Maslow proposed a theory (which is popularly known as Maslow’s theory) in psychology called Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs in his psychology paper, A Theory of Human Motivation.
The theory holds that immaturity, failures, and disappointments in human life result either from the lack of motivation or acquaintance of crippled motivation, which hardly yields the desired results. However, in 1954, Maslow wrote a book called Motivation and Personality in which he further explained his theory. Maslow’s theory is illustrated in form of a hierarchy presentation. Presentation of elements takes the form of a pyramid with fundamental needs assuming the bottom part of the pyramid and self-actualization at the topmost part.
Maslow did not use the presentation, but other psychologists used it for explanation purposes. However, he had used the four most fundamental layers of needs that form the elements of the hierarchical pyramid. Maslow referred to those needs as deficiency needs, which are security, love and friendship, esteem, and physical needs (Maslow, 1954). He suggested that failure to meet those needs, excluding the most fundamental, a person feel anxious and tensed even when there are no physical indicators. In addition, he noted that the realization of the fundamental needs usually heralds a person’s desires for secondary needs. He also defined meta-motivation as the motivation upheld by people who constantly strive for betterment.
The human mind and brain form a complex structure whereby parallel processes run simultaneously. Therefore, a person can possess motivations for different levels of Maslow’s hierarchy, thus an individual can focus on different needs at any given time. However, different needs always dominate in human beings’ lives, and thus much attention is given to them. Maslow’s interest in the topic was the order in which a person meets different types of motivations at each particular time and looked into psychological needs, safety needs, love and belonging, esteem, and self-actualization. Physiological needs comprise physical needs that are necessary for human survival (Maslow, 1954).
Failure to meet the results of the physiological needs to failure in the functions of the human body; hence, they are the most important needs and thus are met before others. In other words, they are fundamental needs that occupy the first part of the hierarchy in the pyramid presentation. After the realization of physiological needs, an individual’s focus shifts to safety issues. Safety is an important element for an individual’s growth and development. Motivation without assurance of safety can hardly yield positive results in a person’s life. The main forms of safety and security that affect motivation are personal, financial, health and well-being, and safety against accidents and other causes of adverse impacts to human life (Maslow, 1954).
Love and belonging underscore crucial needs for human life. Everybody desires to have a good interpersonal relationship with others. A good interpersonal relationship enhances the promotion of a good sense of belonging in the life of a person.
Human beings value the need to belong somewhere, which underscores the importance of the third Maslow element. For instance, some people stick to abusive relationships for the sole purpose of having an identity and belonging somewhere. Deficiencies in love and sense of belonging, which often result from poor friendship, lack of intimacy, and bad family relations, kill an individual’s motivation (Montana & Charnov, 2008).
According to Maslow, love, and belonging enhances motivation in all aspects of human life. Good family relations motivate young children to grow in love and yearn to achieve high results in life. A good relationship with mentors plays a major role in encouraging youth to yearn to achieve great results in life. In addition, a good relationship and love enhance confidence, which is important for the motivation to remain living in the mind of the person. The absence of good relationships and love results in loneliness, clinical depression, and anxieties that hamper motivation.
Esteem is a basic element of motivation in human life. Every individual desire to feel respected in the social arena, but it begins with self-respect. Esteem underscores the deep-running yearning of acceptance that every individual possesses (Maslow, 1954). The absence of esteem is termed as inferiority complex, which often results from a lack of fulfillment of other crucial needs in the hierarchy. Maslow argued that a cure for low self-esteem is personal internal acceptance.
To achieve self-esteem, the person will need to desire glory and fame in society, after which motivation comes up automatically. Lastly, self-actualization occupies the topmost part of the pyramid and it is an important human desire. The level of self-actualization hinges on one’s capacity to realize his or her s full potency. Maslow defined self-actualization as “the desire for the accomplishment of everything that one can or becoming the best that one can be in life” (Maslow, 1954, p.79). According to Maslow, motivation for the desire to achieve self-actualization results from the mastery of one’s ability and potentials.
I work as a prison warden at Yazoo City Low, a federal correctional Institution (FCI), located in Mississippi. Yazoo is a correctional and rehabilitation facility for male inmates, convicted of minor offences across the United States. Archie B. Longley, Chief Prison Warden, is the overall head of the prison. In addition, it has a population of 1,875 inmates, 140 of whom are in the prison camp. A non-governmental organization rated Yazoo City Low as the best correction and rehabilitation facilities in the United States. The organization based the rating criterion on the leadership, warden-inmate relations, and behavioral change of inmates who finish their terms.
Leadership is vital and central to all activities because it influences yielding of the desired results. Leadership is the ability of a leader to influence yielding of the desired results by followers. Nature of leadership determines failure or success of an organization. In prisons, leadership rests in top management organs, which are the decision makers and lead the prison to attaining its objectives.
However, the structure of leadership is mainly a two-fold. There are wardens, who administer rules and regulations over the inmates. They restrict the free movement of inmates, administer punishment or reward them and train the inmates. The prisoners follow the directions of the wardens out of respect and at times out of fear of excessive force that they use at times. Government, under the department of justice, hires the prison wardens and mandates to head the activities of the prison.
The upper-level management comprises of the top most leadership center in federal department of justice. It has a wide range of responsibilities and most notably offering transformational leadership in the management of American prisons. In addition, prison leadership focuses on the motivating wardens, who do the most complex job in the prison facilities. “Upper management therefore is more concerned on the transformation of the agency towards a more competitive and active force in pursuing its own goals and objectives in the society” (Kania, 2008, p. 76).
In addition, inmates themselves have informal groups that have their own leadership structure. Inmate leaders develop rules that abide with the internal systems of the prison rules and regulations. However, their rules and regulations cannot in anyway supersede the rules set out by the prison cell guards and wardens. There are circumstances they seem to challenge the law, but there are special regulations and regulations set out for wardens in order to maintain law and order within the prison facility. The work of a prison warden is very challenging and therefore, requires motivation in order to succeed.
The United States Department of Justice offers opportunities aimed at motivating prison wardens. According to Maslow’s theory, motivation is the key driver to success of a person and therefore, the department understands that prison wardens require motivation in order to succeed in their challenging duty.
The Maslow’s theory begins with physiological needs as fundamental needs for motivation. In relation to that, the department offers training as a fundamental need in discharging their duties in the prison facilities. In addition, training advises trainees to build strong cohesion amongst them as they discharge their duties in order to enhance individual’s sense of belonging.
In addition, there are ranks in the prison management whereby each warden belongs to a specific rank. The lowest being the probation, for fresh training graduates, and chief warden is the highest. The department of Justice has the mandate to award higher ranks to competitive wardens after recommendation from the Chief Prison warden of a specific prison. Above all, wardens work hard in order in service in order to acquire higher ranks thus ranks motivate them to achieve self-actualization (Kania, 2008).
There are also opportunities for further studies in the department of American justice. Scholarships for further studies at the American learning institutions are awarded to wardens who have good recommendations from their chief prison wardens. Most of them pursue degree programs in criminology and recollection, after which they are promoted and their salaries increased by the government. Scholarships are key sources of motivation to the wardens as each of them aims at acquiring higher ranks and increased salaries.
Hertel, F. (2003). Motivation in the workplace. Munich, Germany: GRIN Verlag.
Kania, R. (2008). Managing criminal justice organizations: An introduction. Newark, NJ: Lexis Nexis Matthew Bender.
Maslow, A. (1954). Motivation and personality. New York, NY: Harper.
Montana, P., & Charnov, B. (2008). Management. New York: Barron’s Educational Series.
Peak, K. (2010). Justice administration: police, courts, and corrections management. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson/Prentice Hall.
Robbins, S., & Judge, T. (2009). Organizational behavior. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson/Prentice Hall.