How to Stay Motivated When You’re Supposed to Be the Motivator

Like the people who report to them, leaders have sometimes felt burnout and run low on motivation while navigating the challenges of the past year. But to inspire their teams, senior association professionals must be inspired themselves. Here are a few tips to help leaders stay motivated.

When times are tough, good leaders inspire their team to persevere—to do better and to be better. But maintaining that energy can be exhausting, and when a leader feels unmotivated, the effects can extend to the whole organization.

“A leader is a model of how to be or how not to be for their team. You are being watched, whether you like it or not,” says Emily Golden, a certified coach, speaker, and career performance expert.

How can leaders find inspiration, and who can they turn to for help when they need it? Golden has a few tips.

Develop a Workplace Support System

As they say, “It’s lonely at the top,” and lack of motivation could stem from isolation at work. It’s easy for leaders to feel disconnected from their colleagues, Golden says. There’s a societal expectation that they should be able to succeed on their own, and some high-ranking employees may believe that asking for help is a sign of weakness.

“There is an opportunity to be more vulnerable and more open-hearted with your team,” Golden says. “What C-suite leaders and senior-level leaders must be doing to preserve themselves during these times is to have a support system that keeps them going.”

While it might be difficult for direct reports to support them in this capacity, leaders still have people to talk to. Executive coaches, leaders in other organizations, and people within organizational support programs—such as human resources or an employee assistance program—can help leaders work through a lack of motivation.

Golden recommends journaling as another way to identify stressors and limiting beliefs. Take five minutes a day to write down what’s keeping you from focusing on work. After a while you’ll begin to notice patterns and common themes, which can then be addressed.

Meet Your Basic Needs

It’s easy for leaders to neglect their personal health and well-being as they work to keep their organization afloat during difficult times. But a lack of self-care leads to burnout and a loss of motivation. The truth is that taking care of your own needs makes you a better leader.

“Determine what you need to have in place to operate with a full tank. I’m really talking basics here,” Golden says. “How much water do you need to be drinking, how much exercise do you need to be getting, and how many hours of sleep do you need to be getting? There could not be more science out there that proves that this makes a difference.”

Give yourself an extra incentive by finding an accountability buddy, someone you trust who will check in to make sure you’re on top of these self-care basics.

Create a Vision for the Future

Stress can cause people to act (or not) based on their emotions. To break out of that pattern, envision where you want you and your organization to be in the future, and be clear about how to achieve that vision. This gives you a road map to success, even as you’re struggling with a lack of motivation.

“I use yoga as an example,” Golden says. “My commitment is to do yoga four times a week, but if I’m taking my actions from my emotions, I don’t actually feel like it most days. But if I get myself grounded in my vision of a healthy body when I am in my 60s and I have grandchildren and I’m able to run and play with them, I get myself in gear and I do it.”

Seek Out Work You’re Passionate About

You may not love every aspect of your job, but you probably have work that excites you—the kind that puts you in a groove and makes the time fly. Identify what that kind of work is, and seek out opportunities to do it more often. If a direct report needs help on this kind of assignment, raise your hand.

Find Joy Outside of Work

Leaders may feel they need to devote themselves completely to their jobs to fulfill their responsibilities. But you can boost your sense of well-being by finding meaning when you’re off the clock too. Have an old hobby you haven’t explored in a while? Pick it back up again. Remote work means less time commuting and more time at home doing what you want, so take advantage of this opportunity.

(fizkes/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Michael Hickey

By Michael Hickey

Michael Hickey is a contributor to Associations Now. MORE

Got an article tip for us? Contact us and let us know!