Sustaining Leadership Motivation

Sustaining Leadership Motivation

Holly Seaton, Ph.D.

Transformational leadership is often cited as the foundation of engagement. Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner, for example, define this as “the kind of leadership that gets people to infuse their energy into strategies.” This transformation occurs when both leader and follower are raised to higher levels of motivation and morality.

Where do Leaders get the motivation to inspire, enable and engage others?

Motivation is an inside job. At The Leadership Challenge® Workshop  we provide at Sonoma Leadership Systems, we use two activities to tap into a leader’s process of self-discovery. One activity involves reflecting on the characteristics of the “most admired” of behaviors that a leader exhibits that gives them credibility. Another activity has leaders explore their own “personal best experiences” as a way to highlight what they accomplished, and how it felt to make an impact on others and have influence in a meaningful way.

When leaders are asked about what motivates them, most reply that passion and purpose play a large part, while their values sustain the journey. However, we know that in practice, leaders can be easily derailed from their own purpose and values. So here are a few suggested strategies we recommended to leaders:

  • Do a leadership timeline: Tell someone about your leadership journey, reflecting on your passion and purpose. Has this changed over time?
  • Set up a system for accountability: Leading in a vacuum is a frightening proposition. Who holds you accountable as a leader? Be inclusive when seeking feedback. Lessons are found everywhere.
  • Watch other leaders: Whether in your company or in the media, watch and note qualities and behaviors in leaders that you find both admirable and unsettling.
  • Review your own personal credibility: Take a view from the balcony to be curious as to how others may view your behaviors.
  • Mentor: The process of listening, and supporting others to reach their business potential offers a valuable opportunity for your own self-appraisal and reinforces your strengths and values.

Holly Seaton, Ph.D., is a Coaching Practice Leader and Leadership Challenge® Workshop Facilitator with Sonoma Leadership Systems. The in-house coach for all Open Enrollment Leadership Challenge® Workshops, she focuses on LPI feedback, leader follow-up, and leadership next-steps and best practices. She can be reached at



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