How to stay motivated working for a leader you don’t trust or respect?

David Nour
David Nour

I’m coaching a leader who is unfortunately working for a leader that doesn’t value people! My client is on the senior leadership team and she’s frustrustrated that her leader, although very knowledgeable in their industrial automation space, sees people as interchangeable chess pieces and seems to be only interested in financial metrics visible to the market: earnings per share, return on assets, reducing expenses while driving profitable growth, eliminating headcount, etc.


So in our most recent coaching conversation, we were discussing how to stay motivated when you work for a leader you don’t like, trust, or respect? Let me cut to the chase, it’s not easy. I’ve also long believed that I’d rather deal with a devil I know, vs. the one I don’t. As such, ‘m big advocate of to the extent possible, try to make your current condition work. If unfortunately you find yourself trying to argue logically with someone who is illogical, the only remaining choice become to explore other options. 


In the interim, here are three ideas that may help:


1. Believe in the product/service – It’s a lot easier to stay motivated if you believe in the products/services your organization offers. This makes talking about the actual value more fun with internal and external stakeholders.


2. Keep productive busy – focus on how you can add the greatest value while you’re in the role. Spend quality time with your team, get out and go see customers, or distribution partners. Avoid cross functional anything if possible as they’re often a waste of time and stupid busy draws out longer days even longer! 


3. Invest in your relationships – both within and external to the organization, you may not be in that role long, but the relationships will endure, many will last beyond the job, and they’re your biggest asset.


If you’ve ever been a decent athlete playing for a losing team, you understand that motivation is intrinsic – it has to come from within you. Set your own goals, aim for your own performance metrics and milestones, and focus on your own leadership brand. Deliver on your commitments and focus on always taking the high road. Speaking ill of others seldom contributes to the positive, constructive, and forward moving brand you want to build.


How do you stay motivated in situations like this? David Nour 

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