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Are you on fire — or just burned out?

Sunday, September 07, 2014  
Posted by: Barbara Francella
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By Jo Miller

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 who never seems to question or doubt their performance and dedication.

How do they do it? How do some leaders stay motivated and engaged at work while others fizzle and burn out before reaching their full potential? To find out, I talked to 10 female leaders from the consumer goods industry and asked them "What motivates you at work?” and "What de-motivates you?”

Related: "Is work/life balance a myth?"

I was truly stunned by the response. Nine out of 10 mentioned a common motivator — the people they work with. Answers included, "Moving forward as a team, "Achieving as a team,” "Helping my team,” "Watching my team achieve success” and "Helping people achieve their best.”

I had assumed the traditional motivators of promotion, increased responsibility, expanding skill sets, professional challenges and even monetary gain might have some weight. But these leaders said people were the real motivators.

De-motivators at work

When listing de-motivating factors, not a single leader mentioned the demands of their job, to-do lists or business conditions. For this group of executives, de-motivators were all related to the people around them:

  • 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

This trend of people sapping a leader’s motivation was truly a revelation, one that led me to a greater understanding of the role we play as individuals, team members and team leaders.

Here’s what I learned from my 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. Know that your actions have a direct impact on the motivation of those you work with.

Jo Miller, CEO of Women’s Leadership Coaching Inc., facilitates the NEW Leadership Academy webinars designed to help Network of Executive Women members build core skills and prepare for top management roles in their organizations. Sign up for Jo’s free four-part video training series, "How to Build Your Brand as an Emerging Leader.”

Views expressed in signed blogs and user comments are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Network of Executive Women or its Officers, Board members and sponsors.

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