As a team leader, you’re responsible for ensuring your employees stay motivated. This is particularly important during times of struggle. Regardless of how strong your team may be, there will be periods when you encounter challenges. To maintain your overall performance, you must be able to help your team members see the “big picture” when these times arise.
You likely already know this. What you might not know is how you can maintain your own motivation during these periods. After all, you’re facing the same challenges as your employees, but you’re responsible for yourself and them. Remaining enthusiastic and motivated as a leader, even when you’re experiencing difficulties, can feel difficult.
That doesn’t mean it has to be. If you’re a team leader concerned about staying motivated consistently, keep the following tips in mind. They’ll help you sustain the level of engagement and drive necessary to keep your organization going.
Keep Your Goals in Sight
It’s not uncommon for people to lose motivation when they are unable to see the forest for the trees. It’s easy to get so bogged down in the day-to-day work and murky details that you start to lose sight of your higher mission or goal.
When you feel your motivation flagging, go back to your “why.” Remind yourself why you’re doing what you’re doing in the first place—what’s your mission? Keeping your “why” in sight can help when work seems like a slog or just a series of unending, smaller tasks.
That leads to another point—you need a good “why” to stay in business for the long run. You reason for starting or leading a company has to be more than making money; you need a mission. This mission doesn’t have to change the world and it doesn’t even have to be explicitly humanitarian, but it needs to be something you believe in. Otherwise, what’s the point?
Break Your Goals Down into Steps
This tip seems to contradict the previous one, but both are simultaneously true: it’s just as important to focus on the steps you must take to achieve a goal, as it is to focus on the goal itself. Break down a larger project or goal into steps, and what may seem like an overwhelming challenge at first may instead become a series of tasks that feel far more manageable. It’s also important to prioritize these steps; when you’re not feeling motivated and only have limited energy, it’s important to know what needs to get done, and what can wait.
Express Your Feelings (to the Right People)
Leading a team is difficult, and one often-overlooked reason why is that you don’t have opportunities to vent. It sounds trite, but it really can be “lonely at the top.” Your employees might be able to discuss their concerns and anxieties with each other. They know they have a support system in their coworkers. You, however, need to stay calm and collected. No one expects or wants their manager or CEO to be a robot, but at the same time, no one wants a leader who has no control over their emotions, or who becomes easily stressed and shows it. Your stress will only increase their stress.
However, just because you can’t reveal all your feelings at work, this doesn’t mean you should keep them bottled up. You need a support system. Beyond your family and friends, a mentor can fulfill this role. A mentor can offer practical advice that will help you stay motivated during these times. Even if they can’t offer such advice, their general support will help you realize that challenges are par for the course—they’ve survived them, and you will too.
Your colleagues can also be a great resource. Maybe you’re feeling unmotivated and just not up to motivating your team on a particular day. You don’t want to do this often, but it’s fine to “outsource” motivation to a trusted colleague once in a while.
Focus on the Positive
You can’t ignore challenges when they arise. You won’t succeed as a team leader if you pretend that struggles are non-existent.
That said, what you focus on will influence your motivation. If you focus on negative experiences and weaknesses, you’ll find it difficult to stay motivated. On the other hand, if you reflect on your progress and give yourself (and your team) credit for succeeding in the past, you’ll find it’s much easier to realize how you can achieve further success in the future. One easy way to maintain a positive, yet realistic attitude is to focus on your process—the results may be out of your hands, but if you know you’re doing everything you can to work toward a goal, it’s easier to stay motivated and engaged.
Remember, challenges are natural and common. Apply these lessons, and both you and your employees will remain focused regardless of the circumstances.