Where Have All The Driven People Gone?

The other day while standing in line at my favorite local coffee shop, I overheard a clearly frustrated business leader exclaim to their colleague, “I just don’t get, why is it that no one has any work ethic anymore! Where have all the driven and ambitious people gone?” The colleague gave a nodding, almost approving look back, not offering any advice. They got their coffee and left.

I stood their confused and saddened. Firstly, I didn’t agree. I know a large number of driven and hard working people. Of course, that wasn’t really the problem. The problem was one of leadership. It made me stop and reflect – had I ever felt that way about team I  had lead? Had I ever felt that a group I worked with was lacking a significant quality (drive, creativity, innovation, etc…) and if so, how did that perception color the way I lead them?

The reality is – if we believe that those around us, be it employees or even applicants are all lacking something, then we must look in the mirror and ask if the real problem is: are we personally the one who is lacking? Our teams will model/behave what they see from us. If we are feeling less creative, not brining our “A” game to the office each day, etc… even if it subconscious, it will impact those around us through direct and indirect performance ,and result in the ultimate downgrading of the entire group. This shows up in sales, product development, even our ability to attract and hire new talent.

What can you do if you suspect a trend like this building in your company? Here are four ideas to help you get back on track quickly:

  1. Mix it up! If you have small groups or teams across the organization, make a switch with a least one member of each group. The new perspective to the group will help with innovation and provide insights to all the projects at hand.
  2. Get out with your clients. Chances are you haven’t spent a bunch of face time with your clients lately. Go out talk to them like you did in the early days of the company – you’ll learn a lot from them, and it will bring you back to why you started the business in the first place.
  3. Re-engage with your staff. People want to work for a company and a CEO that has meaning to them, and that aligns with their purpose. They need to hear from you why you do what you do, and why they should be a part of it. When you take the time to be clear with your message, it will not only help you to be able to share it with your team, it will help you re-anchor it for yourself.
  4. Take time away. Yes, that is right – take a vacation. All too often we are burning the candle a both ends and it eats into our productivity and impacts our mindset. There is no way to be a high-functioning leader that inspires others when you are running on empty. Come back refreshed and relaxed – you’ll be amazed what you can accomplish.

There are great people, who are driven and ready to help you grow your company. They might be already working for you, or they might be your next applicant. Get into the right mindset and you will be able to leverage them, and your team, to accomplish your goals.