Interestingly it was the youngest miner, new to the job, who had the most difficulty handling the situation. This reminded me of Viktor Frankl, author of "Man's Search For Meaning". I recall he said something like this: "It wasn't necessarily the youngest and fittest that survived Auschwitz concentration camp, it was those men who had something to live for". Frankl wrote about how he imagined himself (after the war) standing on a stage talking to hundreds of people about survival in the camp and what it took for the men to get through the brutality of war. He said that this gave him the energy to encourage others also, to dream and have a vision beyond Auschwitz.
It takes a certain energy to battle the way through challenges and problems both at work and in personal life, and none is as important as the energy of the leader. Whether you are a CEO, senior manager, team leader, teacher, coach, a parent - or any other kind of leader - your energy is contagious. This is so, particularly in the workplace. The way you're feeling at any given moment profoundly influences how the people who work for you feel. How they're feeling, in turn, profoundly influences how well they perform. A leader's responsibility is not to do the work of those he or she leads, but rather to fuel them in every possible way to bring the best of themselves to their jobs every day.
Think about the best boss you've ever had. What adjectives come to mind to describe that person? These might include; Encouraging, inspiring, kind, positive, calm, supportive, fair, decisive, smart, visionary. Just three of those qualities have anything to do with intellect. The others are emotional qualities and more importantly they are all positive ones. Negative energy, even in small doses, can have a lasting impact on people.
I am often asked by leaders "how can I motivate my people?" My usual response is that generally I believe people come to work motivated; however, often they are then de-motivated by the way their manager treats them. Think of a time when you had a manager who saw potential in you that you didn't realise. Perhaps one who inspired and encouraged you to take risks to get out of your comfort zone. You achieved new levels of skills and expertise and most importantly with that came confidence.
The best leaders use their own positive energy to bolster their employees' faith in their own abilities and to fuel their optimism and perseverance in the face of stresses and setbacks. That belief from a leader is intoxicating. So if you think you haven't got the energy to be that sort of leader then perhaps you are neglecting YOU. When I coach leaders I remind them that they can only give out what they have to give. If a leader is feeling drained, tired, and generally has a low energy level, it is a warning sign to take care of them self. I say; "you need to be selfish". I mean this in the best sense. If you don't take care of yourself, you are unable to take care of others. It really hits home when I mention that this includes being the loving spouse and/or parent.
The same message applies even if you are not in a leadership role. You may be a sales person. You may have learned the best negotiation skills and techniques; however, if your energy is low, or negative, will your client or customer want to buy from you? Even in tough times, as many businesses are still experiencing, the customer is still looking for solutions. It not just what you are presenting, it is how you present that can make a difference.
We have a new restaurant in our local area. Under previous ownership it struggled to keep going. The new owners have not just created a different ambience with a major overhaul on the decor and a menu that delivers really delicious and tasty food, including amazing desserts; it is the energy and drive they have to keep all their customers happy. They opened on Father's Day and have been busy every day since then. Open from 8:00 am for breakfast and right through the day to late evening, they consistently deliver a friendly, 'can-do' service. Their energy is outstanding - no wonder they are having so much success! How is your energy? If you're not sure, I expect those around you will have noticed, so why not ask them?
©Gilly Chater 2010