Using your energy is one of the most effective leadership tools you can use, yet leaders are rarely trained in how to use it. Everyone in the team contributes to the energy, and you often feed off each other, often unconsciously. When you learn to use your energy consciously, you can use it to align a team and find a state of flow.
Often people think about energy in terms of high energy – enthusiasm, commitment, a fast pace, excitement, joy – but energy comes in many different forms. Here are some examples of how to use energy to be more effective:
Change boring meetings
If everyone in a meeting is bored, you have all contributed to it. Often everyone will sit in a boring meeting and blame everyone else or even blame the meeting, as if the meeting is a sentient being!
Notice if you are the only person in the meeting who is bored and reflect on why that is. What do you want to happen? Speak to that without blaming others. Consider whether you need to be in the meeting at all. If not, politely take your leave.
If everyone is bored, shake things up. Don’t just sit in a boring meeting where nobody is engaged. Do something about it and take responsibility for changing it. Alter the pace, offer ways to change the way the meeting is run, take a break, inject humour. Don’t sit in boring meetings.
Invigorate with enthusiasm
If the energy is flat, consider what is behind that. Is everyone tired of having the same debate and never resolving the real (often hidden or unstated) issue? If so, be clear what needs to happen.
Energise the team by focussing on shared objectives, with meaning and purpose. Even the mundane tasks are part of a bigger shared purpose. Keep looking for that sense of meaning and purpose to make the work compelling and interesting.
If the energy is flat because people are exhausted and need to take a break to recharge their batteries, more energy and enthusiasm will exhaust them even more. In which case, it’s time for another approach.
Balance the energy and pace
Many teams only have one pace – fast! Balance the energy and pace so that it is appropriate for the task in hand and capabilities of the team. If everyone is exhausted, take the pressure off everyone and give them time to recharge.
Reflection is a crucial part of the process of learning. Slow down to reflect on what you have learned individually and collectively and make decisions about how you do things differently going forward.
Creativity also happens when you slow down. That’s why you are more likely to find solutions to problems in the shower or walking the dog. Find ways to slow down for reflection, problem solving and collaborative brainstorming. Alter the pace and energy according to what is needed. Don’t fall into the trap of the default being 100mph.
Have compassion for lower energy
It’s not authentic to always have high energy. There will be times when someone in the team is grieving and needs space for this, or when someone is exhausted because they were awake all night or because their workload has been incessant for weeks.
When energy is lower, give each other space and recognise that what you can achieve on a day when your energy is lower will be less than a day of higher energy. Learn when to inject enthusiasm and when to slow down and re-charge your batteries. With remote working, many people work longer hours without taking breaks.
Don’t keep pushing through until you burn out. Use your energy wisely.
Calm the tension of conflict
Where there are disagreements, notice where tension rises and explore ways to bring more calm into heated debates. Heated debates are not necessarily wrong as they in themselves generate energy to build on, as long as they are done without blame, judgment or criticism. However, use calm to minimise conflict escalating out of control.
Where there are polarised opinions, shift from a right/wrong approach, slow down and listen to what others have to say. Don’t be too quick to interject and disagree. By slowing down, you create an opportunity for everyone to have their say and learn from each other.
You can’t collaborate without differences of opinion, so don’t be afraid to express an alternative point of view. Do it calmly and clearly for maximum impact.
Your energy influences you and your team all the time. By paying more attention to yours and the team’s energy, you can act more consciously in a way that positively impacts the team and leads to better performance without people burning out.
With remote working and an “always connected” mentality, the boundaries of work and life often become blurred. Use energy to avoid burning the whole team out or losing talented people.
Above all, use your energy consciously and positively to benefit everyone in the team.
Jude Jennison, Founder Director of Leaders by Nature Ltd