3 min read

6 Leadership Behaviors That Crush Motivation

6 Leadership Behaviors That Crush Motivation

Employee motivation is essential to a team’s and organization’s success. From increased productivity and team performance to decreased turnover and absenteeism, the power of a motivated workforce cannot be denied.

However, it’s not salary or free lunches that have the most significant influence on motivation; it’s you, the leader. Gallup found that 70% of the variance in team engagement and motivation is determined solely by who is leading the team.

So, how do you know if your behaviors are inadvertently and unknowingly crushing the motivation of your people? It starts with understanding what can be demotivating and being self-aware by thinking and reflecting on your behaviors and actions.

For most leaders, we think we’re self-aware; however, the truth differs from our reality. The HBR article, Working with People Who Aren't Self-Aware, discovered that 95% of people think they’re self-aware, yet only a mere 10-15% actually are.


Are you struggling to motivate your employees? If so, you need to read this  which will help you turn that around.

Read through these 6 leadership behaviors and reflect on how you show up for your team day in and day out. If any of these behaviors sound like something you may have been doing, now is the time to make a conscious effort to change.

6 Leadership Behaviors That Crush Motivation

  1. Tolerating bad attitudes
  2. Signaling a lack of trust
  3. Minimizing accomplishments
  4. Not addressing inequality
  5. Only focusing on the numbers
  6. Forgetting about the vision

Leadership Behaviors That Crush Motivation


Tolerating Bad Attitudes

Turning a blind eye to team members who are overly critical of their teammates, belittle or dismiss their ideas, and blame others when things go wrong is crushing the motivation of everyone on the team.

Unfortunately, leaders avoid addressing these toxic behaviors, as one study uncovered that 70% of leaders are scared to talk to their employees. Yet, if you want a motivated team, you must have these difficult conversations.


Signaling a Lack of Trust

A leader may genuinely believe they trust their direct reports; however, they are signaling otherwise through some of their leadership behaviors. When employees feel that their leaders trust them through their words and actions, they experience 74% less stress and 50% higher productivity, and 40% less burnout.

Here are a few common leadership behaviors that unknowingly signal a lack of trust:

Minimizing Accomplishments

If you believe that there is no need to recognize direct reports because their achievements are part of their employment, or in the instance that they’re paid by commission, the pay increase is the reward; you are mistaken.

If this is the case, this leadership behavior needs to end today. Research shows that recognition is the most important motivator to 37% of employees surveyed.


Not Addressing Inequality

Any employee will not be motivated when they feel burnout, and shockingly 76% of employees experience burnout at least sometimes at work. In the same study, they uncovered the top factor for burnout is unfair treatment or inequality at work. Favoritism, opening opportunities up to a few, or unequal distribution of resources are a few leadership behaviors that zap motivation.


Only Focusing On The Numbers

While achieving goals is a significant part of being a leader, leaders who only focus on delivering results, achieving accountabilities, or hitting targets are missing the other half of being a leader and key leadership behaviors that drive motivation.

Leadership is also being a support manager, who coaches employees, ensures they understand their accountabilities, is mindful of work-life balance, and is invested in seeing their people learn and grow to deliver their very best at work.


Forgetting About The Vision

Many leaders fall into the trap of being too tied up in the day-to-day operations of their teams to communicate and reinforce the organization and team vision. Not continually reinforcing why you do what you do is a leadership behavior that must be avoided.

Vision and purpose, an understanding of how an individual contributes to the vision, are one of the main drivers of motivation. So at your next staff meeting, be sure to remind your direct reports of what you’re trying to achieve, why it is beneficial, and their roles in making it happen.



Employee motivation can be the difference between a team and organizational success and failure. That’s why leaders must cultivate the right conditions through their own leadership behaviors so motivation can thrive, and that starts with gaining knowledge and self-awareness.

To do just that, consider attending a leadership development program where you learn best leadership practices, complete a 360 evaluation for feedback to expose blind spots, and work with a leadership coach to apply your knowledge and grow your leadership capabilities.

Turning Around Demotivated Employees: A How-To Guide for Motivating Employees as a Manager

The Only One-On-One Meeting Template You Actually Need

The Only One-On-One Meeting Template You Actually Need

As a leader, the last thing you want an employee to think when you send an invite for a one-on-one meeting is, “What have I done wrong.” This can...

Read More
101 Coaching Questions Employees Wish You Would Ask

101 Coaching Questions Employees Wish You Would Ask

As Bill Gates famously stated, “Everyone needs a coach. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a basketball player, a tennis player, a gymnast, or a bridge...

Read More
How To Improve Your Communication Skills in the Workplace

How To Improve Your Communication Skills in the Workplace

So, your goal is to improve your communication skills? To become someone who can communicate in the workplace with confidence? No problem. We’re...

Read More