What Quiet Quitters Can Learn From Career-Motivated Leaders

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I started my career right out of high school, working for the Canadian military in their supply warehouse in Germany. Without any specialized education, I took on the grunt jobs, which didn’t leave any room for slacking off. If the job wasn’t completed as expected and within a specific time frame, it was noticeable, and so were the repercussions.

That experience shaped my work ethic, which I relied on solely to get ahead — I went on to reach senior levels of the organizations I worked for, eventually becoming a CEO. While my career path didn’t seem an anomaly at the time, in 2024, it does.

Last year, a Gallup poll showed that 60% of employees globally were “quiet quitting,” that is, doing the bare minimum amount of work required to stay employed. This phenomenon, widely associated with Gen Z and millennials, makes some sense when you look at the macroeconomic environment of the past five to 10 years.

Quiet quitters have benefitted from a tight labor market, but that is coming to an end. In the first two months of 2024 alone, we’ve seen 42,324 workers laid off by 168 tech companies. As funding becomes more challenging to obtain and more companies look to reduce costs, it’s not a stretch to think quiet quitters will be affected.

Related: Quiet Quitting Is Dividing the Workforce. Here’s How to Bring Everyone Back Together.

I personally identify as a “core committer,” someone who is driven to do everything I can to ensure my team and our greater company’s goals are met. Here are three ways “core committing” can help you achieve upward mobility in your career:

Committing to a team gives you a greater sense of purpose

In the military, operations are designed to run efficiently — every individual is expected to contribute towards a common goal. Expectations are made clear, and if you don’t deliver, you let down your whole team.

Working in this environment, I came to understand the need to self-sacrifice at the expense of my team’s greater success. If someone called in sick for a midnight shift, I would fill in without question, and if a job outside of my description needed to be done, I was there.

There’s a common conception amongst quiet quitters that hard work is rewarded with even harder work. While it’s true that proving yourself capable at work can lead to more challenging tasks, this is often where the greatest opportunity for growth and professional development lies.

In fact, in 2024, Gartner’s HR professionals predict a countertrend to “quiet quitting,” dubbed “quiet hiring.” Employers who engage in quiet hiring will look to acquire skills without adding new full-time employees. They’ll do this by rewarding those who help meet an organization’s evolving needs with upskilling opportunities, one-time bonuses, additional paid time off, promotions, and greater flexibility.

Committing allows you to achieve audacious goals

Once I’d become more senior in my career and obtained further education, I never let my ego interfere with taking on a job that other senior executives might have snickered at. In fact, I’ll never forget committing to take on what surely had to be the worst job in my company at the time. It was a turnaround operation for a division that had become completely dysfunctional.

Upon entering the environment, the tension was palpable, and it was clear that facilities would have to shut down and that people would have to be let go. It was the toughest project I’d ever encountered, but I committed to seeing it through.

The process was painful, and at times, it was hard to see the through line, but by operating with as much transparency as possible and maintaining respect for all those involved, we were able to get realigned. In the end, we were able to get the operation back on track to a place of solvency where those who remained committed to it were able to see it flourish and grow.

The experience underlined a core truth that’s been highlighted many times throughout my career: one should never underestimate their ability to achieve a goal when they fully commit to it.

According to McKinsey, more than half of employees report being relatively unproductive at work. While there are many factors that separate quiet quitters from star performers, as the job market loosens, employers are becoming more discerning of those who are reliable and committed.

Related: You Can’t Stop Quiet Quitting — But You Can Overcome It With These 4 Proactive Tips

Committing to action is more important than the plan

A number of years ago, during a performance review with my CEO, I received a piece of criticism, which I later came to think of as a compliment. He told me the feedback from my team was that I couldn’t plan my way out of a paper bag, but no one would ever underestimate my ability to get a job done.

I recall that conversation with fondness because what my CEO identified was one of the superpowers of core committers — we find a way to complete the mission. Mistakes are made in the process, but when you’re committed to helping your team, you find a way through the challenges and learn in the process.

Too often in our careers, we spend an inordinate amount of time creating robust plans for tackling goals. In reality however, these ambitions often fail due to a lack of commitment and action by those involved in their execution. In fact studies have shown some 60-90% of strategic plans never fully launch.

It’s not my intention to shun quiet quitters — I understand there are factors that have led to professionals not wanting to go “all in” at work. I do believe, however, that the mentality presents more of a danger to the people who possess it than it does to the companies they represent.

If you’re not committing to growing and challenging yourself at work, where the average person spends a third of their life, then you’re missing out on critical opportunities to strengthen your sense of self-worth. For me, the ultimate reward of being a core committer is knowing my contributions have made a difference in the lives of those I’ve chosen to impact. That’s a feeling I wouldn’t trade for any number of idle hours at work.

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