Leaders who can energize others are worth their weight in gold

The best leaders know how to boost their organization’s energy levels. That’s the way to make good companies great, writes Michael Canning.

It doesn’t take a physicist to remind us of the power – and, sometimes, beauty – inherent in a force of nature. While most of us are unconsciously aware of, and act in accordance with, forces of nature, for leaders there is one on which we need to focus and mobilize: the power of energy. Because energy is “the fuel that makes great organizations run” (Dutton, 2003), a company’s energy is linked to performance. High performance teams and exciting, innovative organizations thrive on and emit their own energy.

Great leaders inspire employees to stretch to deliver results

The Law of Conservation of Energy tells us that energy transfers from one object to another, sometimes transforming that object. Some leaders possess innate ability to leverage and transfer positive energy by multiplying it exponentially through others. Their energy is contagious, they are magnets, attracting talent, projecting their own positive energy, and multiplying it in their people. Their energy comes from an ability to lock into a greater sense of purpose and vision for their organizations, beyond profitability and revenue targets. These leaders inspire their teams to strive for a better future and create a sense of urgency that mobilizes and focuses energy.

Smart companies align personal passion with corporate purpose

As leadership expert Simon Sinek said: “If you hire people who believe what you believe, they will work for you with blood, sweat, and tears”. This is only effective if leaders bring the organization’s purpose to life through others.

Liz Wiseman, president of leadership research and development centre The Wiseman Group, first referred to leaders who amplify the capabilities of people around them as “intelligence multipliers”. These great leaders inspire employees to stretch to deliver results that surpass expectations. Instead of relying on themselves and diminishing the ability of others, multipliers see an abundance of intelligent people who can figure it out.

Here are a few tips for becoming an amplifier of energy:

1. Turn up the volume. The leader’s role is to mobilize and focus the energy of the organization. Connecting people to the bigger picture of success creates context and meaning for their work and a legitimate sense of urgency brings focus and direction.

2. Step back to go forward. Author Dan Pink points out that motivation increases when people have a sense of autonomy. Making space for others to lead and create is essential. Stepping back is not walking away, it just means helping others to shine.

3. Personify peak performance and surround yourself with others who do too. To mobilize energy and elevate performance, embody the love of peak performance (Bruch & Vogel, 2008). It is not the words, but the authentic actions in all aspects of your life. Surround yourself with leaders who are genuine and infectious about peak performance and gain energy by connecting with others. This infuses the team and, over time, the entire network.

Leaders who do these things know how to tap into and manage the energy of their organizations. Now is the time to become an amplifier, mobilizing, focusing and dialing up the energy to create excitement, foster connection and engagement, and elevate performance.

 

Michael Canning is chief executive of Duke Corporate Education.