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11 Sources of Leadership Energy

11 September 2017

Having had the privilege of witnessing the styles, interactions and effectiveness of countless effective leaders have – I am aware that many view their impact as a sort of paradox – experienced as a “mystery” they are "gifted" with - as well as a self-evident and straightforward result of skilful and learned practice - available to us all.

It is a “mystery” because most of the leaders I encounter find it difficult to explain they are effective at engagement, motivating, energising and influencing. It is a learned practice because even they have learned the skills necessary to ensure avoid engaging badly, being inattentive, failing listen well. My sense is that the best leaders ability to be  of  present and their wholesome engagement with sensitive empathy, is assured by attention to this essential“mystery” and disciplined and enabled by their learned “practice”.

I have found that regardless of personality, gender and culture, leaders often show how they can bring a distinctive and influential “quality” of energy to space, relationship, situation or challenge.  I have observed what they do and how they are. I have also asked them about what I have observed; to find out what they are aware of being or doing; why it is and what results (if any) they seek and / or see?

I have also observed and talked to those who live, work, know, and like (or dislike!) them. I have sought to hear and make sense of their perspectives and to understand and appreciate their reciprocating behaviours and responses.

These inquiries, conversations and responses have me to the following, tentative observations about the 11 sources of leadership energy:

  1. A sense of place that leads to a commitment to turning up
  2. A sensitivity to time that leads to a sense of urgency
  3. An awareness of timeliness that leads to a logic of timing
  4. A connection to others that leads to a desire to relate
  5. A living contradiction that leads to a desire to inquire
  6. An experience of generosity that leads to the a joy of reciprocity
  7. A frustration with the ordinary that leads to an aspiration for the extraordinary
  8. An appreciation of diversity that leads to the valuing of difference
  9. A commitment to the other that leads to an openness to inconvenience
  10. An awareness of fragmentation that leads to a hunger for wholeness
  11. An appreciation of simplicity that leads to engaging with humility

What Next?

If you are a leader, manager, supervisor or team member, it is quite likely that you have been in situations where you have engaged with others in a way that is energetic and engaging. Some of the observations I share here may resonate.

It is also quite possible that having read this you have additional observations and queries. Some points may resonate – but your experience may be quite different.

For me the inquiry continues. The 11 Sources of leadership energy I describe above are tentative (could have been 12 or 20) and can be added to. I would be delighted to hear what resonates, what you see differently and what sources you (from your experience and reflection) might add to the 11- that I have offered here. I would be delighted if we could turn the 11 into the 20!

Additional Notes:

More about the idea of “Generation Me”:

More about Leaders and Energy:

HBR October 2007 – Article Preview - by Tony Schwartz and Catherine McCarthy “Manage your energy not your time”

Read Other Thought Pieces