The last 10 years in business have brought a sharp incline in speed, complexity, and uncertainty, coupled with a constant need for innovation and transformation. And this current global pandemic has amplified this even more. Leaders and executives are realizing that they can no longer plan everything; they must learn new ways of working, new ways of making an impact, and new ways of being. All of these require energy to be infused into all of the critical areas in a business so great innovation and transformation can actually occur.
Our research and experience has unveiled some critical competencies that all business professionals must have. By far, the competency that separates the highest performers from the good or mediocre performers is energy multiplication. Looking at energy on a continuum (whether the focus is at work or at home), you quickly see why this is true. On the far left, you find energy suckers. In the middle, you find energy managers. But...on the far right, you find these unique high performers who don't just give energy to others, they actually multiply their energy into the people and places around them.
Energy Sucker - a person who has the ability in a meeting, presentation, negotiation, family gathering, or social event to leave anyone walking away completely drained. Through their negativity, sarcasm, steamrolling, judgment, inability to listen, lack of curiosity to ask questions, and facial expressions or body posture, they leave you exhausted. These people show up unprepared, disorganized, and full of drama, blocking any collaboration or creativity.
Energy Manager - a person who acts like they have 100 units of energy, and if they were to give any energy away, it would be at the cost of their stash. They mistakenly believe that they can accumulate energy and potentially cash it in one day. These people are cautious about who they give energy to and often mistake a casual acknowledgment or pat on the back as a significant investment of energy into another person.
Energy Multiplier - a person who virally energizes those they interact with and who consistently sees that energy invested in others is the catalyst for great actions. They empower those they lead and work with by providing clarity where there is confusion. They simplify the complex, and they ask creative and meaningful questions. Through their personal preparation and Performance Mindset skills, they listen intently while being effortlessly curious and nonjudgemental. They are open-minded, deeply honest, and authentic, and they treat your time as if it is more important than theirs.
So, how do you develop this competency of Energy Multiplication?
First, it's critical that you set your intentions to do this. Before you go into a meeting or walk through the door at home at the end of the day, you ask yourself the three critical intention setting questions: How do I want to be perceived? What do I want them to know? How do I want them to feel (the most important of the three)? This is even more important and powerful in our current virtual settings.
Next, make sure you get consistent, appropriate (physical, cognitive, emotional), and well-timed recovery breaks so you have the energy to give. Simply put, you can't multiply energy in others if you don't have any energy yourself.
Change your internal dialogue from What's in this for me? to How can I help you? In Adam Grant's research for his book, Give and Take, he found that generosity and the will to help others deeply changed relationships and led to success. Imagine if you primed yourself before every encounter by thinking, "Let's find out how I can help this person be better, do better, and feel better."
Finally, take time each night to reflect on what you did that made you an energy multiplier that day. If you were an energy sucker or manager, ask yourself how you could have been different, prepared differently, or listened differently. By reflecting, you are rewiring your brain to be an energy multiplier in the future.
Being an energy multiplier is catalytic. It enhances or allows great things to happen through people, but it is never consumed. Imagine how you would feel at the end of your day if each person you encountered (or even just a select few people) took this approach with you today. Some leaders may be demanding and firm, but they must multiply their energy for those whom they lead and collaborate with if they are to be successful. Leadership and followership is a dance we do to create great relationships, great collaboration, great innovation, and huge successes. For this to happen, we need more energy multipliers.