Why are some businesses bursting with energy? They have high performing, motivated staff moving from success to success. Why are other business ‘cruising in neutral’, with drained and dispirited people going through the motions as if they are sleepwalking?
Leaders need to be more savvy and work to shift the energy of their workplace to a high energy state. In doing so, they will improve employee engagement, boost the reputation of the business with customers and the wider community, and drive efficiency and effectiveness in product/service development.
If leaders could learn to bottle the characteristics of their businesses high energy hotspots or to energise areas of the business that are flat and out of flow, then they would be Energy Intelligent leaders.
In my book ‘Energy Intelligence at Work-A New Leadership Theory’(1), there are 13 characteristics of an Energy Intelligent Leader which I call ‘the Baker’s Dozen’.
The first characteristic is Set the Direction. They do this by having a clear mission and a succinct vision. If the existence of the workplace pre-dates the leader, it may have a historic mission and vision that is no longer fit for purpose. (As yourself whether this is true of your workplace?) The leader’s core function is to review these with the support of the workplace governing body and to re-imagine what this is.
This is an essential piece of work because the Energy Intelligence can only expand if individual staff are committed to the workplace vision and mission.
These are necessities that cannot be delegated and can only be led by the CEO. As the workplace leader, it is vital they know what they are trying to do and can explain this to employees and stakeholders. As Peter Drucker said; “Leaders communicate in the sense that people around them know what they are trying to do. They are purpose-driven-yes, mission driven. They know how to establish a mission.” (2)
Getting this cornerstone laid firmly in place is the corefunction of the Energy Intelligent Leader and if they can do this in the simplest and clearest way, so much the better! The leader should be regularly asking; what business are we in and what do we want to achieve over a three, five, ten, twenty year period?
Leaders can use Set the Direction to benefit a wide range of workplace initiatives. For example, they can say no to anything that doesn’t fit the core mission and vision. For example, when recruiting staff, the workplace can say; “this is who we are and we are passionate about this. Don’t come here if you don’t like this or think you can change us from the inside out.”
A retired University Vice-Chancellor told me that when he was involved in senior staff recruitment, he always made it clear to applicants his university mission was to provide an excellent education for the disadvantaged and his vision was to encourage young people from ethnic minority and low-waged family backgrounds to study for a degree. The staff in that university were motivated and committed to working to this ambition and the policies and procedures were aligned in support. An academic applying for a position in this university who didn’t share the same mission and vision was under no illusion this wouldn’t be the right place for them and anyone who was already working there who tried to resist or change things wasted a lot of energy and ultimately left for a University with a different focus.
Set the Direction led from the top will make it clear to staff and customers ‘what business you are in’ as well as driving traffic (in the form of customers, employees seeking work, media enquiries) to and from your business.
Energy Intelligence at Work-A New Leadership Theory