Leading through tough times — layoffs, budget cuts, ongoing troubling events — is the hallmark of great leadership. Doing it well is often counterintuitive.
Rather than reaching for a pep talk, a team-building event, or a nice dinner (all of which have a time and place), step back and consider the deeper, messier emotional experiences that lie beneath the tough times. More than anything, those you lead need to feel understood, validated, and supported.
Give them that, and they can find their way back to choosing higher levels of motivation. There are helpful steps you can take to help them do just that. But it’s important that you start with an accurate assessment of what is actually happening. First, understand that motivate isn’t a verb. It’s a choice.
It’s not something you can do to or for others. What you can do is create the conditions in which those you lead choose to be as motivated as circumstances will allow.