by Achim Nowak

Great Leaders MOVE Energy. Do You?

September 24, 2023

The energy was GREAT.

We’ve all had that thought at the end of a terrific meeting or a satisfying conversation.

We may, in fact, have uttered those very words.

I facilitated a corporate retreat a few months ago. I enjoyed my group immensely. Good energy, I thought to myself. My language of choice. As we said our good-byes, however, a few of the folk in my group also commented that the energy was good. That touched me. It wasn’t just me. The energy WAS good. And it was felt.

Old-school leadership experts like Brian Tracy (No Excuses! The Power of Self-Discipline) break the notion of personal energy into physical energy, mental energy, and emotional one. I have these dimensions of energy, and everyone else who’s in my immediate space has them, as well.

As these energies interact in one space – physical or virtual - they merge, mingle, ignite each other. Hopefully my body is energized, my thoughts are sharp, clear, intentional, and positively directed toward others. And hopefully my emotions are in support of what I wish to accomplish in this gathering.

The more you lose yourself in something bigger than yourself, the more energy you will have.”

Norman Vincent Peale

Cool. But let’s delve a little deeper into our understanding of energy. If you’re metaphysically inclined, you know that all of us have what we might term spirit or soul energy, whether we consciously experience it or not. At the meta level, everything is and has energy. Plants have energy, objects have energy, rooms have energy. My computer screen has energy. So does my phone.

I remember a conversation I had with Brad, a limousine driver in Chicago, as he was taking me from Lombard to O’Hare. We were noting how the dark, dreary skies that day had an impact on our mood. Then Brad linked the impact the weather had on both of our spirits to a previous profession of his.

I used to be a housing inspector, Brad said. I have inspected hundreds of houses. Don’t let anyone tell you that houses don’t have energy.

Energy. Everywhere. If we hold any sort of formal leadership role, it behooves us to know how to move some of this energy. I no longer believe that good energy is a mere luck of the draw. Sure, with some folks we feel more in sync than with others. But good energy is something we ignite, capture, circulate and recirculate.

We MOVE it.

Here are some of the ways in which we do so. I call these The Touches. I like this word because we cannot “force” collective energy. I realize the notion of moving energy can sound a little woo-woo. Allow me to un-woo-woo this notion a bit.

Ways of MOVING Energy

1. The Light Touch.

Choose light over somber. Choose playful over pedantic.

I do not propose that we take a serious concern and trivialize it. “Make light” of it. But when we treat a matter, a concern, a person, a group with a light touch, we move the energy of the moment toward a playful exchange. Our lightheartedness invites more lightheartedness. This moves energy instead of keeping it stuck. And it tends to stir our souls at their very core.

2. The Improvisational Touch. 

When something isn’t going as planned, choose flow over fighting the moment.

An improviser sees a creative opportunity in any event. Even in the conversation that seems to go nowhere, the meeting that veers off on a tangent. Instead of resisting the unexpected, folks with an improvisational touch ride the wave of the moment. They explore the unexpected instead of trying to contain it. The moment we improvise, energy moves, in a big way.

3.  The Boomerang Touch. 

Choose to notice instead of ignoring. Choose to “pick up on it” instead of rejecting.

With a boomerang mindset, I pay attention to everything an individual or group of folks is sending my way. Their sense of humor. Their language rhythm. Their tone of expression. Their physicality. I hit the “same wavelength” button. I intentionally use the language of others. I match their rhythm. I send it right back to them. I surrender to their tone (unless I decide it needs shifting). Energy suddenly feeds upon energy. It, indeed, boomerangs.

4.  The Expanding Touch

Choose to seize a micro-stimulus and amplify it.

It’s the boomerang touch on steroids. I notice an impulse, a spark, a theme, and I decide to run with it. Someone mentions the word success, and I go on a riff on the connotations of success. Someone makes an extravagant gesture, and I reciprocate with a cavalcade of extravagant gestures of my own. I enlarge, magnify, turn it into something. Small energy is amplified and becomes infectious. And infectious energy is near impossible to resist.

Energy movers aren’t control freaks or energy dictators. They simply notice energy. Catch it. Run with it. Sounds like a sports metaphor now that I think of it, right? A sport in which everyone wins.

And most sports, played at the highest levels, are terrifically energizing tp boot, aren’t they!

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