Being a leader is not easy. It requires more than knowing how to do the work. It requires more than great communication skills and influence. It even requires more than emotional intelligence and resilience. Good leaders know how to master their own energy.
By “energy,” I mean the team’s level of interaction and, more specifically, a team member’s personal zeal after interacting with his or her leader, especially while dealing with a major challenge. In some cases, employees may be left feeling excited, engaged, willing to improve, motivated and open to tackling the challenge. In other cases, they may be left feeling vulnerable, exhausted, drained, unmotivated or, worst of all, fearful.
In the first case, employees will work hard to improve, even if they make mistakes along the way, and they understand that the challenge they are facing is temporary. In the second case, while they may still work hard to improve, fear has them operating in a negative state of mind.
Good leaders are good energizers. They leverage relational energy (the kind that elevates and increases) in support of their team and organization. Here’s how:
Good leaders understand how to uplift others both during difficult times and when things are going well. Naturally, a team’s energy levels fluctuate, and while the leader has a strong impact, those levels do not rely solely on the team’s leader. However, the leader’s energy level, more than that of any other team member, impacts the topics discussed, the approaches the team takes to its work, team members’ perspective on their leader’ state of mind and their perspective on the organization. As a result, leaders need to reclaim their position this year by understanding how their personal energy is a powerful resource. The good news is that calm enthusiasm suffices.
Positive or constructive energy is key for a productive work environment. With positive team energy, keeping employees engaged is easier. And, according to Gallup, “the manager alone accounts for 70% of the variance in team engagement,” due to “the manager’s innate tendencies, the manager’s engagement [and] the employee’s perception of the manager’s behaviors.”
Here’s the good news: When leaders maintain their own positive energy, it yields a positive impact on their team.
Creating Positive and Constructive Team Energy
The heliotropic effect is the inclination of all human beings to flourish and to be attracted to positive energy while languishing or avoiding deenergizing (or negative) energy. According to research from the University of Michigan Center for Positive Organizations, if leaders are positive energizers, they are more likely to have rich, frequent communication with their team members. For the most part, people who positively energize others:
- Are high performers.
- Tend to enhance the work of others.
- Have their ideas acted upon more often.
- Attract high performers to work for them.
In addition, people who interact with or are connected to energizers also perform better. When organizations have a network of positive energizers, they tend to recruit more of those professionals, which impacts their culture and level of performance. The Center for Positive Organizations’ research found that high-performing organizations three times more positive energizers than low-performing organizations.
So, leaders: As a good corporate citizen, can you think of ways to increase your positive energy? Clearly, this work is internal, and only you can choose to master it. If you already have these tendencies, it will be easy for you to enhance them. If not, think of things you do to grow personally so that you can make a better impact on your team’s performance and have the type of influence that yields the most effective results. Challenge yourself, and enjoy the behaviors and performance you will evoke from your team members this year!