Quiz – How would Others Describe your Energy?
If you are in a leadership role at work, which of these statements describes your energy:
a) Bubbling with enthusiasm
b) Bursting with energy
c) Pulsating with positivity
d) None of the above
I hope you answered “d” none of the above. Because employees typically find the other three leadership styles to be over-the-top and – ironically – de-motivating.
Having worked with literally hundreds of managers and business owners who’ve brought me in to provide customer service training for their teams, I’ve discovered that when it comes to a leader’s vibe, there is a magic mix. To inspire others, a leader needs to be positive and optimistic while also being realistic. And your energy needs to be higher than average without being frenzied. In other words, the most effective leaders are those who exude quiet, confident energy. That’s easier said than done. Here are four tips for setting the kind of tone that positively engages teams.
1. Start strong
How you conduct yourself the first 90 minutes of the workday reveals if you are a clerk, a worker, or a leader. Clerks work on administrivia, workers handle customer requests, and leaders focus on strategic projects that steer the team towards long term success. That’s where you should focus the first part of your day. By working on long term success tasks, you’re preventing problems and keeping the organization on track. Doing this for the first 90 minutes of your day means that when proverbial fires flare-up, you’ll have the comfort of knowing you’re already addressing the underlying issues. You are genuinely calmer and your team members will sense that things aren’t as bad as they seem. That’s the kind of tone that everyone appreciates.
2. Blow off some steam
If your job is stressful then I suggest you acquire the habit of working-out before arriving at work. Early morning workouts release endorphins that put you on a more even keel before the headwinds of work start taking their toll. We all know that if you experience high stress levels without counterbalancing with physical exercise, then eventually your job will kill you. Not to mention your staff and your family will worry (with good reason) about your job having an adverse effect on your heath. So do your customers, your staff, and your family a favour – skip an hour of TV at night and go to bed earlier. Get up earlier and work-out. Everyone around you will be put at ease by your more relaxed, yet energized presence.
3. Get back to now
This is going to sound like new-age touchy-feely stuff, but actually this third tip involves acquiring a simple habit. It’s a suggestion I share in my seminars with frontline employees who occasionally deal with upset customers. Consider adopting the practice of meditating. I’m not talking about trying to contort yourself into some pretzel-like lotus position and chanting ‘0m’. What I’m referring to is developing the skill of calming your mind, centering, and letting go of distracting thoughts of past or future.
By definition, as a leader you are predisposed to focus on the future. And you’re going to have stuff that has happened in the past that you will dwell on. Fixating on the future or past saps energy that diminishes your effectiveness in the present. So consider for few minutes throughout the day, just being mentally still. When a thought enters your mind, acknowledge it without judging yourself, let it go and get back to stillness. When you learn to tame the wild horses of your mind you’ll find that constant interruptions (like email, employees, customers etc) are less disturbing. People begin to sense that when you’re with them you are truly present and you really do value them. That inspires loyalty.
4. Lighten up
A former neighbor of mine, Judge Peter Levesque, made a habit of raising the spirits of employees in family law court where he presided. At Easter, for example he would don a bunny suit and hop around chambers passing out chocolate eggs to the staff. You can imaging the belly laughs when “Judge Peter” became “Peter Rabbit”. As a leader, self-effacing humour demonstrates that you are optimistic, you don’t take yourself too seriously, and you believe work should also be fun. Those are strong values that serve to recharge your team’s energy and earn their affection.
Bottom line – If you have too little energy as a leader, your team will sense a lack of direction. Giving off too much energy makes them worry that you’re not calm enough to be thinking strategically. The middle ground is the only one that’s sustainable. I hope these tips helps you to more consistently exude calm, quiet confidence.