Expending physical, emotional or mental energy depletes us – if we don’t replenish our energy we run the risk of collapsing physically or suffering burn out. Even the Eveready Bunny eventually conks out! But there’s another type of energy we can tap into – relational (social) energy – and it has is the opposite effect. Interacting with others in a positive, rich and deeply connecting way actually replenishes our energy.
Fascinating new research from Kim Cameron and others has shown that a leader’s capacity to positively energise relationships and networks within their organisation has four times more impact on their performance than their position in the hierarchy or their perceived level of influence. Positive energisers perform better themselves, and also enhance the work of others they’re connected with, which improves organisational performance.
How’s the energy in your team – mostly positive or negative? Now for a bit of self-reflection – are you a positive energiser, or do you drag people down with your negativity, tendency to dominate or your focus on problems and faults?
Imagine the impact on engagement and performance if we could teach everyone in our organisation, especially our leaders, the behaviours associated with being a positive energiser. Here’s a few suggestions:
- Give people your full attention
- Listen carefully
- Don’t interrupt
- Contribute actively and meaningfully to conversations
- Share the airtime, don’t dominate
- Show concern for others
- Help others to feel included
- Willingly assist others – and also accept help
- Don’t wallow in problems, look for solutions
- Use humour and fun appropriately
- Be reliable and trustworthy
- Show enthusiasm for what you’re doing (even when you don’t feel it)
- Express gratitude
Teams with more positively energising leaders produce significantly more levels of job satisfaction, engagement, well-being, innovation, cohesion and performance. Leader behaviours which increase positive relational energy, in addition to those above, include:
- Create a positive vision for the future
- Convey a sense of hope
- Value others
- Acknowledge progress
- Celebrate positive outcomes
- Emphasise and build on employee strengths
- Look for positive energisers when recruiting
You don’t have to be a social butterfly or an extrovert to be a positive energiser. All of us can learn these behaviours. Observe the positive energisers in your workplace – which behaviours do you notice them doing most often? What could you do more or less of? Pick just one of these behaviours and see if you can focus on it for the next month. Relational energy is such an untapped resource with the potential for huge pay-offs in terms of engagement and performance.