Are You On Fire… Or Just Burned Out?

What Top Leaders Do to Stay Motivated and Engaged at Work

It happens to all of us at some point: a slight dip in our motivation, a troubling ripple that makes us question how eager we are to do our jobs, let alone excel in them. And yet, when we look around, there is always someone on fire for their job. Someone who never seems to question, or doubt, either their performance – or their dedication.

So how do they do it? How do some leaders stay motivated and engaged at work while others fizzle and burnout before ever reaching their full potential? To find out, I surveyed ten female leaders from the Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) industry, asking them both “what motivates you at work” and “what demotivates you”.

While I had expected to hear some varying answers, I was truly stunned by the response.

Motivating People With… Other People

In answer to “What motivates you?”… 

• 9 out of the 10 mentioned a particularly common theme, all of which had something to do with those they work with. The answers I got included “moving forward as a team”, “achieving as a team”, “helping my team”, “watching my team achieve success”, and “helping people achieve their best.”

This was big news. Before asking this question, I had assumed that the traditional motivators of promotion, increased responsibility, expanding skill sets, professional challenges and even monetary gain might have some weight. But the overwhelming responses indicated that people were the real motivating factor for nine out of ten leaders polled.

Now, let’s examine how those same leaders could occasionally feel less than motivated… and why:

Demotivating People With… Other People

In answer to “What demotivates you?” … not a single person mentioned being demotivated by the demands of their job, tasks, to-do lists or business conditions. Mirroring what motivated them, for this particular group of executives, it was ALL to do with people:

• Poor communication;
• Micro-managing;
• Naysayers;
• Office politics;
• Nit picking;
• Complaining;
• Negativity;
• Lack of understanding and appreciation;
• Lack of consideration for other team members;
• Making demands without taking time to listen…

Again, this trend was a revelation, and one that led me to a greater understanding of the role we play, as individuals, both as team members and team leaders.

Parting Words

Here’s what I learned from this simple survey:

If you’re looking for ways to stay motivated and engaged when you come to work every day, look no further than to those around you, and know that your actions have a direct impact on the motivation of those you work with.

CEO of Women’s Leadership Coaching, Inc., Jo Miller is creator of the Women’s Leadership Coaching® system, a roadmap for women who want to break into leadership positions in businessOffice politics.

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