How a Leader’s Personal Drive Affects the Rest of the Team

Hayley Panagakis

17 February 2020

Drive is the innate urge to attain a goal or satisfy a need. As leaders, we rely on drive in ourselves, our teams and our organizations to achieve success. But your personal drive as a leader carries greater weight than the contributions you’re making to achieve a goal. In fact, your drive as an individual affects your team members and the organization’s culture as a whole. 

When one person lacks the drive or motivation to do something—particularly if that person is at the top of the organization—others follow suit. A lack of drive has a trickle-down effect that begins with one unmotivated leader and ends with a lackluster team. It’s a “well if my boss doesn’t care (or is not contributing), why should I?” mentality. I can say from personal experience, even the most driven individuals can lose momentum when their leaders aren’t setting the example to pursue their goals.

But in the same way that stalling is infectious, high drive with an emphasis on teamwork is just as much so. Add a positive attitude and mix it in with a heightened motivation to reach a goal and inspiration will spark, pushing the team forward. If you’re working hard and staying positive in the process, it will inspire your team to do the same.

It’s important to note, however, that drive isn’t about staying busy. Don’t assume because someone looks busy that they are driven—they may fill their time with things that aren’t really contributing to achieving the goal. 

In this Forbes article on lazy leadership, senior contributor Scott Edinger shares that lazy, undriven leaders avoid challenging tasks and conversations by investing their energy elsewhere. They stay busy by overchecking email, passively attending meetings, distracting themselves and others, and “working on problems as they arise instead of considering and carefully addressing an issue’s root cause (i.e., lazy thinking).” 

Maybe you’re guilty of a few of these behaviors. Let them serve as indicators that you’re in a season of low drive, but understand it’s normal for motivation to come in waves. What do we do when we’re in a season of staying busy rather than pushing full force toward our goals and giving it our all? How do we increase our personal drive? Here are a few suggestions pulled from personal experience of a time my drive was at its lowest, and what I did to get back to where I needed to be. 

1. Recognize what’s impeding your drive. Maybe you aren’t passionate about the work you’re doing. Maybe you’re overwhelmed with everything on your plate or overworked and experiencing burnout. Maybe your priorities have shifted. Reflect on what’s going on and pinpoint whatever the reason might be. From there, you’ll be able to make changes that will reignite the spark that is your drive.

2. Remember your purpose. Sometimes we get so bogged down in our day-to-day tasks that we lose sight of the “why” behind everything we’re doing. Your purpose should serve as your north star. If the tasks you’re doing don’t contribute to the goals that will inevitably help you achieve your purpose, shift your energy to the things that will. If you don’t know what your purpose is, define it and live by it. 

3. Ask for advice from a mentor. Whenever you’re faced with any kind of challenge as a leader, it’s good to seek counsel from someone who’s been there. The same applies here. When you find yourself unmotivated, ask a trusted mentor or coach for their advice on what you can do to get yourself out of your rut before it has an impact on the rest of your team. 

Getting back to a high-drive season won’t happen on its own. You must be intentional about returning to that place and understand the effects your personal motivation has on those whom you’re managing. Be mindful, keep your purpose at heart in all you do and be an example for your followers. 

Hayley Panagakis

This blog was written by Hayley Panagakis, a freelance writer, editor and content creator. Connect with her on LinkedIn and visit her website to learn more about her services.

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