Leadership and Energy

Leadership is the relationship between leaders and followers. But it is a special kind of relationship. The relationship is characterized by leaders and followers influencing each other in order to achieve a specific purpose or goal.

One of the ways we can describe a leadership relationship is through energy. Leadership motivates us and activates us to achieve some worthwhile purpose. Energy in a relationship activates us and marshals organizational resources around an objective.

That’s why we often think of leaders as active rather than passive in terms of behaviour.  Researchers in a paper presented at the Academy of Management conference in Montreal in 2010 suggested that we also think of good followers as being active, having energy.

I suspect that the exchange of energy, enthusiasm and resources can help us achieve our goals. That’s why leaders and followers need to project energy both emotionally and physically to each other. Energy drives action and action drives accomplishment.

At the same time, every organization has its ebb and flow of energy. We all need slower times in order to reflect, think and plan.  Running full-tilt, without time for reflection may result in poor decisions and burnt-out employees, as well as create negative aggression. Finding this ebb and flow of organizational energy is a tough job for leaders. They need to be able to read the organization for both employee need for activation and for reflection.

One metaphor for energy is heat. As electrons circle faster, things get hotter.  Have you taken your organizational temperature recently?   Is your organization running a fever?  Too much energy and activity results in illness, not enough result in passiveness and lethargy.   Check out this article from the Sloan MIT Management Review on organizational energy. How is your organization doing?


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