Is Your Leadership Creating an Energy Crisis?

Ever heard comments like these in your organization?

  • “How many people work in your organization?” “Oh, about half.”
  • “The most dangerous place in this organization is at the exit door around quitting time. You’ll get trampled.”
  • “Working is like a nightmare. I’d like to get out of it, but I need the sleep.”
  • “I used up all my sick days, so I phoned in dead.”

These are a bit extreme, but we’ve heard variations of these thoughts over the years in focus groups to survey a Client’s organizational culture. One morning, I asked a group of very quiet participants a series of questions about their organization’s climate and leadership effectiveness. I was getting very few responses. This was going nowhere fast. Finally, one grizzled veteran sitting at the back of the room with his arms folded said, “Jim, you’re confusing us with people who give a (bleep).”


Neither For nor Against Apathy

Elie Wiesel was a Romanian-born American writer, professor, political activist, Nobel laureate, and Holocaust survivor. He authored 57 books, including a book on his experiences as a Jewish prisoner in the Auschwitz and Buchenwald concentration camps. His observation points to a big leadership problem, “The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.”

‘How long have you worked here?” “Ever since my boss threatened to fire me.” Far too many people have retired but still show up for work. The biggest cause of “quiet quitting” or on-the-job-retirement is a dysfunctional culture rooted in poor leadership.

Some managers will complain about a declining work ethic. “No one wants to work anymore,” they’ll say. When we look at 360 assessments or engagement surveys, it’s clear that a more accurate response to these managers is; nobody wants to work for you.


Poor Managers Enervate, Effective Leaders Energize

Management at an airline with deteriorating customer satisfaction issued a directive urging staff to smile and be nicer to passengers. A flight attendant’s response showed how management just didn’t get it, “We’re smiling in spite of the fact that we’re doing our job with fewer flight attendants, a system that often breaks down, and a product that’s deteriorated.”

Attracting and retaining top talent is a major problem for many organizations. Yet despite our very tight job market, highly effective “magnet companies” attract and hang on to good people. Their reputation or “leadership brand” has become as critical to their success as the company brand they are selling in their market.

Brand management is an inside job. Disengaged servers don’t produce engaged customers. External brand management is multiplied or minimized by workplace culture. That culture ripples out from the leaders. They brand themselves and the workplace.

Zenger Folkman’s been tracking the links between leadership and employee engagement for over two decades. Their 360 assessments show that the best leaders have four times higher engagement levels than the worst leaders.


Where’s the Needle on Your Energy Meter?

One key indicator of leadership’s failure to impassion people and foster their commitment is absenteeism. When I was a kid, I didn’t enjoy school. So, I was sick a lot and stayed home. My mother used to express concern for a sickly adult life ahead of me.

Once I found my life work and pursued career choices that really turned me on, my health miraculously improved. I’ve missed only a few days in decades of work.

Low energy and engagement show up in ten key areas:

  1. Absenteeism
  2. Retention of top people
  3. Customer service levels
  4. Quality of work/products
  5. Productivity
  6. Innovation and agility
  7. Engagement levels
  8. Laughter/fun
  9. Continuous improvement
  10. Health and safety

On a five-point scale with 1 — Not a problem, 3 — Somewhat of a problem, or 5 — A big problem, how would you rate each of these in your organization? Do you have data, or are you just projecting what you’d like it to be?


Dozens of Ways to Block or Boost Energy

Which five would best recharge and energize your team/organization?

  1. More involvement in planning processes
  2. Improved meeting effectiveness
  3. Increased openness and information sharing
  4. More recognition, appreciation, and celebration
  5. Higher training and development
  6. Better coaching and development
  7. Greater job enrichment
  8. Higher laughter index
  9. Aligning work to individual strengths
  10. Changing leadership expectations/beliefs about frontline staff
  11. Less rules/bureaucracy and more trust
  12. Enhanced collaboration and empartnerment
  13. Less position power and more persuasion power
  14. Profit-sharing
  15. Improved frequency and quality of communications
  16. More listening to frontline concerns and issues
  17. Seeking input and ideas for improvement
  18. Better processes for frontline servers to pass along customer feedback
  19. Increasing frontline autonomy and local decision-making
  20. Improving the physical work environment
  21. Enhancing work-life balance
  22. Stronger emotional connection to our vision, values, and purpose
  23. Decreasing conflict and increasing teamwork
  24. Nurturing champions who have high passion for their ideas
  25. Spending more time hiring the right people
  26. Only promoting strong role model leaders


Leaders Ignite the Passion That Fires Self-Motivation

As “the father of modern management,” Peter Drucker, once said, “Your first and foremost job as a leader is to take charge of your own energy and then to help orchestrate the energy of those around you.”

Decades of research on the powerful links between leadership and emotional intelligence reinforce the energy connection. In Working with Emotional Intelligence, Daniel Goleman reports, “The leader is a key source of the organization’s emotional tone. The excitement emanating from a leader can move an entire group… as Birgitta Wistrand, the CEO of a Swedish company, put it, ‘Leadership is giving energy.’

This transmission of emotional energy lets leaders be the pilots of an organization, setting its course and direction.”

Is your leadership raising or lowering energy? How do you know?

The post Is Your Leadership Creating an Energy Crisis? appeared first on The Clemmer Group.

For over three decades, Jim Clemmer’s keynote presentations, workshops, management team retreats, seven bestselling books, articles, and blog have helped hundreds of thousands of people worldwide. The Clemmer Group is the Canadian strategic partner of Zenger Folkman, an award-winning firm best known for its unique evidence-driven, strengths-based system for developing extraordinary leaders and demonstrating the performance impact they have on organizations. Check out for upcoming webinars and workshops.


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