Energy and Leadership
You + Energy = Possibilities
In our work at the Heartwood Group, we base what we do with clients on very fundamental concepts. For example, one of these is that we all live in a realm of possibilities. Oftentimes, people can’t see these possibilities for any number of reasons. Our work in coaching and leadership development supports and guides people in uncovering their blind spots. These are possibilities that could not be seen at all, or may have seemed too “pie in the sky” to even consider.
We all live in a realm of possibilities.
How does this relate to energy? To go after these possibilities requires energy. Leaders depend upon their energy to effectively lead, drive meaningful change, and influence outcomes. Energetic leaders unchain the mind and human spirit of others to seek their greatest potential. For you to do that for others, you need to do it yourself — and do it repeatedly. It’s a big job and you need to be up to the task.
We are on a journey together. We are all going into the future! It is our decision to choose to be “key influencing factors” in our lives and the lives of others. To do this you need to be actively engaged and involved to your maximum ability. You can’t challenge others to greatness unless you are doing that with your own life and work. The good or even great news is when you have breakthroughs, you can help others have a breakthrough, too.
Our energy is generated by our human spirit. It is certainly affected by externals, but there is a sense of being connected to someone or something that brings interest and energy. Connectedness is not such a hard concept to grasp intellectually. We intuitively know when we connect with something or someone (or not). Your human spirit recognizes truth and passion as an experience which often requires some really strong effort to put into words.
When you are in your spirit and your energy is high, work and life appear to be just flow — an almost effortless experience regardless of how challenged you are by your circumstances. When you’re not in your spirit the opposite is true – your energy runs low –and people or situations can seem tougher to manage. You may feel like you’re just going through the motions. This space of drudgery and heaviness is not the “realm the possibilities.” It’s more like survival and being stuck going through the motions.
The space of drudgery and heaviness is not the “realm the possibilities.”
We all find ourselves there sometimes, and when we do, we need to have the self-awareness and courage to call it out. When you admit (to yourself and to others) that you are running on empty, struggling or not at ease, you allow your human spirit the air it needs to breathe. Energy can be reignited and then possibilities can flow again.
The people around you will often sense if your energy is low or lacking. You may not be aware of it, or think you’re masking it well, but the people around you will feel it. They may experience you as distracted, flat, uncertain, or unmotivated. All things you likely don’t want your team, or peers, or family to sense from you. You need to act.
First, make sure you have people in your life who will call your attention to this absence of energy. This requires someone willing to give you honest feedback even when it’s difficult to do so.
Have people in your life who will call your attention to your absence of energy.
Come to recognize (and admit) when your energy is low. As leaders we are compelled to “soldier on” but doing so indefinitely when you know you’re at low energy will just lead to mental fatigue and burnout. Your efforts won’t produce the outcomes needed and you won’t be supporting others in achieving their greatest potential. It’s a lose-lose scenario.
Come to recognize (and admit) when your energy is low.
You can cultivate a greater awareness by practicing self-reflection. It may seem counterintuitive to take a pause to check in with yourself at your busiest time, but it will produce a payoff. It can help to simply write or journal insights during the day — or first thing in the morning and last thing at night. Review what came up for you while thinking about your mind, body, and spirit. These thoughts may or may not seem unrelated. It doesn’t matter.
First you need to take time to do it, you must commit to making it important. Remember, the goal is to find the best ways to recharge your energy. It may mean rest and relaxation, or it may mean physical activities. Exercise, meditation, journaling, hobbies, holidays, vacations (real ones), time with others…finding purpose and fun can all be sources of rest and renewal.
Some journal or reflection questions you might ask yourself are:
- What is my current state of mind, body and spirit?
- What activities can I do regularly to maintain each area?
- What will it take to make a transformation in these areas a priority?
- Where am I finding my energy and how can I turn up the volume on my leadership?
Everyone has different ways and needs for how they reconnect with their energy. It’s in the quieting of our minds and connection with our spirit that we find true perspective. As you grow in your willingness and ability to practice reflection, an awareness of your current state of self will sharpen. More importantly, your awareness of others outside of yourself will become a greater focus too. This “other focus” is essential to being able to influence others and actively increase their possibilities.
Points to Remember
- The human spirit is an experience that is unique and not well understood. We see its power, but the spirit itself is unseen.
- Energy drains out of us when we are not in our spirit. Take notice early when it happens so you can self-correct.
- Difficult tasks become effortless when we are aligned with our purpose and in our spirit. Make flow something to create for you and others in life and work.
- The practice of reflection will sharpen your awareness of spirit. You need to value time to reflect if you want to transform. Without reflection we can’t transform.
- Give people feedback on their energy and see how it starts to shift them faster than performance reviews. Real feedback has to include how you experience someone…both positive and negative.