An employee might be categorised as being “engaged” if they do their job well, have decent working relationships, and participate positively with the company culture. However, the question may remain with many directors: “How can I get them to step up and go above and beyond that level of basic engagement and get involved more in suggestions and improvement actions, or just be more passionate about what we are trying to do?”
Performance and influence in modern companies has less to do with organisational positions of authority and more to do with leaders’ ability to ‘energise’ people so they become that bit more engaged. It is called ‘Discretionary Effort’… The level of effort people could give if they really wanted to, above and beyond the perceived minimum required.
‘Energised’ people across your employment spectrum practicing discretionary effort become persistent innovators of future oriented strategies, they are purpose driven and hold themselves accountable, with a willingness to contribute to the company goals.
So how do you become a better energising leader? In our experience it’s best to start with becoming aware of how you may be de-energising team members and experiment with behavioural adjustments. Often you can be de-energizing people without knowing or intent… Trust me, it is intuitive when you become conscious of your behaviours and how they affect others and that timeline. You have the inbuilt ability to feel yourself de-energising others and you can sense the change in atmosphere around you.
First you need to create awareness, then follow it up with self-analysis or feedback from others, which is a critical part of our support process. When you’re self-analysing your behaviour: Do you destroy others’ energy in your haste to find a solution or demonstrate your knowledge? Do you tend to force others to come around to your way of thinking? When disagreement or issues arise do you tend to focus on the person and not on the problem?
An energiser is not a cheerleader or copious optimist; they simply focus people more on opportunities rather than on the constraints. When they hear an idea for example that they disagree with, instead of reacting and dismissing it outright, they’ll search for what’s good in that suggestion and influence the person in that direction. De-energising leaders tend to be more bias to their own opinions or ego, explaining reasons why something won’t work or why you can’t do something that way.
Note: Energising behaviour and high-energy behaviour are not the same thing!
A high-energy or charismatic leader generates what psychologists call ‘high-level stimulation’ that is they arouses motivation in others, however, although effective short term this is a form of extrinsic motivation. Leaders that practice energising behaviour let other people know they matter and tap into their intrinsic ‘emotive-ation’. It’s also important to understand that people do not need to initially like a leader to be energised by them. For example, if I am working in partnership with you to take your business to the next level, I am pacesetting to the extent of helping you push your people out of their comfort zone but with a purpose bias, not a performance bias.
The hardest thing about being an energising leader is that it takes energy. As a leader if you do not bring the energy, especially when you don’t feel good about yourself in that instant, you will naturally de-energise those around you who are consistently looking for emotional permission from you to behave in certain ways…. And you need to be aware of this.
The ability to energise is not a function of personality; it is a function of character and the authenticity you exhibit in your interactions with others that commands respect and builds trust…
Energy is infectious and transmissible and is not reserved for the leader. A team member who is energising elevates people around them. The team feel more creative when they’re working with them and as for an energising leader the team are more likely to devote Discretionary Effort.
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