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Monica Wofford, CSP, teaches leaders to understand and improve their own leadership in using practice, skills, and desire as their three areas of focus. As leaders, I think we’ve all had moments of motivation, as well as days of ardent determination, but which one do you need to succeed as a leader? Much as you must manage some days and lead on others, or both in the same hour span, the answer is you need both motivation and determination, but what’s the difference?


Dictionary.com defines Motivation as a reason to act a certain way; an inducement or an incentive. Weight Watchers describes motivation in their material as a temporary state of effort in which emotion is driving your reason for action. A diet is perhaps a great way to look at this same concept for leaders. If you’re motivated to start a weight loss effort you might take the first step, buy the right foods, and walk past the M&Ms. If you’re determined, you’ll still exercise even when you don’t feel like it and walk buy the candy on days when you don’t feel so strong. What are you motivated to do in your efforts to provide contagious leadership to those you work with? Motivation alone can turn into an initiative that gets called the “Campaign of the week” and fizzles fast. Determination will help it become effective over the long term, so let’s take a look at that attribute.


You might have guessed we’d juxtapose this word with its definition, too and dictionary.com defines determination as the act of coming to a decision. Hmmm… that’s a bit different than having a reason to act. Using the same analogy of weight loss, if you’ve decided to lose 10lbs, you now have a reason to act as you need to when following through on your decision. If you merely want to look a little different without a clear decision on what that looks like, you may be distracted easily or come up with justification to lean toward something more momentarily compelling. What in your leadership role of coach, guide, mentor, disciplinarian, and provider of the direction and vision, have you decided needs to be done?

Motivation may help you come to a decision you’re determined to fulfill. Determination drives continued motivation. While they work hand in hand, one without the other can seem a bit empty. For example, a leader motivated to develop a high performing team may lose steam when the first barrier arrives or first employee grumbles at the changes to implement. A leader who’s decided to develop a high performing team will likely have a plan, provide coaching, implement training, or listen longer to the needs of the team while building up steam for the long haul. Those only motivated tend to run out of steam before the end result is reached.

Are you a motivated leader or one who is determined? What are you determined to do? And equally importantly, what are those you lead determined and motivated to partner with you on that needs to change around here?

Have a great Monday, an even better week and of course, stay contagious!


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