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Essential Energy

Systems run on energy. So a leader must also have resource of energy to lead. The organization or team will only go as far as the leader’s energy. There is a very simple measure of the health and culture of any team or organization: its energy level.


Change, transformation, and results all require enormous energy. Many people fail to achieve what they want simply because their body isn’t keeping up with their mind. Their mind says, “’Sic ‘em!”, but their body says, “Are you kidding me? I can get out of bed.” But you know it is true. People who have charisma and impact also have a corresponding energy. There are many different styles of energy, but everyone who is successful somehow brings energy—a physical, emotional and spiritual energy—into their environment. In the toughest and most challenging moments, the ability to tap into that energy generally separates the ones who lead well and achieve from those who do not. Some people walk into a room and suck the energy and positivity right out; others walk into a room and the flagging spirits there immediately begin to rise. We gravitate toward those who lift us with their energy.


So it is very scary when the person in the position of leadership has no energy. We all know what that does to the momentum of an organization. It’s no secret that we are living in challenging times. But there will be people and organizations who get through this time leading an organization that makes it and actually thrives. Much of that will depend on the ability of the leader to shift the energy and the emotions of those around you. This is not positive thinking, naivete, or manipulation. This is about the kind of person who can face reality, make the tough decisions, and take the heat to turn things around, and have the energy to bring others with them.


Without energy, nothing changes. It’s a law of the universe. But with energy, anything can grow, change, transform. There are multiple ways to upgrade and magnify your energy. Obviously, one of those ways is to take care of your body so that you can renew your energy. But you also need to renew your mind (even when you’re exhausted) by tapping into a vision, a sense of purpose, which brings energy not only to yourself but to your team as well. Finding and unifying vision and purpose is what has given power to so many great leaders. That energy is characterized by a feeling of being alive and aware, having vitality and spirit. Energy that is physical, mental, emotional, and relational creates the capacity to perform, to create, and to persist.


Let’s look at several different types of necessary energy:


PHYSICAL: When we work hard, run a marathon, do anything that expends physical energy, we need rest and recovery time.


MENTAL ENERGY: This is just like physical energy. When we study for an exam or work on a big challenge for our job or family, our minds get fatigued. We must take mental breaks and give ourselves the space to renew.


EMOTIONAL ENERGY: Wow. Emotions. Burnout comes from emotional exhaustion. It can come from being really excited and passionate about competitive things. It can come from something like grief from a death or the breakup of a relationship. We need to recuperate and replenish.


RELATIONAL ENERGY: This one is different than the others! When we express relational energy, it automatically builds it up instead of depleting it. You have seen or experienced how that works. Anyone who has loving and supportive relationships finds strength there. Tough relational interactions exhaust us and diminish energy; positive interactions build it. Positive leadership exhibits and enables positive relational energy.


Research shows that the impact of an energizing leader is extremely powerful; positive energy was found to be four times more important in predicting performance than the amount of information or knowledge possessed by the leader, and four times more important than the influence or position power possessed by the leader.


Now, being an energizing leader is not about being an extrovert, charismatic, perky, or engaging. Anyone can develop the characteristics that are recognized as those belonging to positive energizers:

  • Connecting with others as people

  • Trustworthy with integrity

  • Dependable and deliberate follow-through

  • Helping other people flourish

  • Fully engaged

  • Genuine and authentic

  • Seeing opportunities more than roadblocks

  • Solving problems for others

  • Smiling; seldom solemn

  • Grateful and humble

  • Flexible and open to other ideas

  • Unselfish team players

These are the high performers. The scientific evidence is clear: Positive energizers are significantly higher performers.


Being “on a roll” is how we like our organizations to be. But we can’t stay on a roll or have momentum without bringing new energy to the table. Leaders are the custodians of organizational energy. We have to be on guard with building and maintaining our personal and organizational energy, because when energy is gone, usually a personnel and leadership change is necessary from outside the organization to revitalize it.


But positive energy is generally contagious. If a leader brings positive energy to the workplace, it’s only natural that team members are going to pick up on it and become more energized. This makes for workplace cohesion and productivity. Then, strong relationships can lead to big things.

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