Over the last couple of months, in both my coaching sessions and my group facilitation sessions I have become acutely aware of the role that Leaders play in setting the climate of the organization.
I often ask my Executive Coachees: “How do you show up on a Monday morning?” “What energy is it that you bring to your Team?” and now I am also contemplating whether that energy rubs off on your colleagues or is it a question of each individual bringing their own energy to the team?
Brett Steenbarger believes that “Energy” is one of the essential ingredients for a world-class leader. Tom Peters, in his book, The Little Big Things, explains that “the ‘business’ of leaders at all levels is to help those in their charge develop beyond their dreams”. Leadership in this sense translates to something almost invisible…this is Leadership that transforms and is grounded in a vision.
Zenger and Folkman, in the Harvard Business Review, share the results of a research project that examined 33 innovative leaders. Among the key findings were “excellent strategic vision” conveyed “vividly”; the ability to “inspire and motivate through action”; and a focus on “upward communication…projecting optimism, full of energy, and always receptive to new ideas.” Significantly, they observed that in the organizations led by the innovators “grimness was replaced with kidding and laughter.” The energized organization bubbles over, not only with enthusiasm but with humour and collaboration.
Steenbarger puts it so aptly when he says that “We need a full complement of energy to access our strengths. Only when we are fully energized do we become fully capable of being the best versions of ourselves.”
So, what does it take to bring this type of energy to your Organisation, to lead with passion and conviction? (after all, we as Leaders are also just human!).
And then I remind myself…Aaah!...that is exactly it. Leaders need to recognise that they are also just Humans…Humans are led by Humans!
It all, therefore, starts with focusing inward…develop a keen sense of self-awareness.
Sharing therefore on a Monday morning with your Team that you are not feeling that optimistic is therefore not necessarily a dreadful thing, in fact, it is being vulnerable and authentic. It’s important to remember that your people usually know if something is not working. They just want to know whether you have the courage to tell them. Being vulnerable and showing your vulnerability also encourages your team members to show the same. As a Leader, creating a safe space for people to share, irrespective of their energy is of critical importance.
I love hiking and I always think of negative energy in terms of my backpack. I arrive on Monday mornings with my own “backpack” and encourage my team to follow suit…bring your backpacks…. let us unpack whatever is not going to be of benefit for us in the week to come, put it on the proverbial table!
And now, let us fill our backpacks with the elements that contribute to the big picture. The big picture always helps increase our energy.
I have come to realise that as Leaders we set the rhythm of the organisation. Our behaviour, language conversation and mindset all contribute to the rhythm and ultimately the energy. I do not think it is humanly possible to motivate others…what we can however do is inspire those around us and share our own energy…in a symbiotic way we influence each other, and the energy truly rubs off!
The art of Leadership is to be able to leave your Team with a sense of motivation and inspiration, long after you have left the meeting.