7 Ways Bosses Kill Motivation Without Realizing It

3. State that failure is not an option.

Max Klein
5 min readOct 6, 2022


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My motivation deflated immediately like someone had put out their cigarette on my best birthday balloon.

I had what I thought was a great idea based on experience for how to handle a situation with a client and my boss said sharply “No, we aren’t doing that.” And that was that.

That’s fine sometimes as the final decision was his and decisiveness is a good thing but not even giving my idea a split second of consideration when my years of experience and knowledge of this client should have warranted it, was frustrating. This happened more than once and eventually, I was completely unmotivated to share any ideas.

Not considering the experiences or opinions of those under you is a quick way to kill their motivation.

As someone who has studied and practiced leadership in military, business, and volunteer settings for over twenty years, I’ve seen and even done some of these things.

Avoid doing the following to avoid killing motivation.

1. Put their signature spice on *everything.*

Some leaders think the way they prove their leadership chops is by molesting every plan or idea their team comes up with before implementing it.

Kind of like how the “news” puts a spin on information, this kind of boss puts their spin on all decisions and actions. It’s fine to do this sometimes or even often, but it’s not always needed and should be avoided when your people have come up with a great idea without your input.

Business Insider did an interview with retired Navy SEAL Jocko Willink who told them when someone offered an idea that:

…was good enough — maybe not exactly how he would prefer to do it — he would agree to it. It’s much easier and efficient than debating small details that will have a minimal impact on performance. “And by the way, once you do that and they see that you have an open mind, they’re going to be open to your ideas,” (Jocko) said.

If your team has good ideas, try to avoid the urge to “molest” the idea, plan, or action unnecessarily. If you must or have an excellent…