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What would your organisation look like if you designed it to maximise human energy?

Energy really matters, and highlights possibly the most critical characteristic of sustainable and high performance organisations – commercial or otherwise.


It is an area in both life and business that is hugely noticeable once one starts to consider even simple evidence. Leaders have an immense responsibility in shaping the energy, personality, culture and success in any organisation and often get results almost unconsciously – not enough of us probably take the time to sit back and reflect not only on what we have done, but how we have done it and the impact and reflection of our own approach and behaviour. Over time the organisation will adopt those characteristics – good or bad, which create and define the culture.


A key factor in managing, maximising and maintaining organisation energy is the ability to focus on clear communication of the ‘most important things’. Also important is the documentation of what we aren’t going to do, or aren’t going to do yet, in addition to ‘what gets in the way’ and drains our energy.


Even the most positive, high energy environments are hobbled by lack of clarity in mission, and mis-communication of a critical few priorities. Leaders’ responsibility in setting this agenda and most importantly being consistent in walking this walk, even when faced with opposing objectives, is huge. Organisations and teams pick up very quickly if the tone of voice and actions from the top do not align to the messaging.


An awareness and appreciation of the optics of the ‘how we do’ requires real introspection and top leaders have a very clear sense of their impact and work as hard or harder on the delivery (every day, not just once), as the message itself. But we also need to understand who are the stakeholders, what is important to them and how do we connect and energise them.


The analogy which works well to explain organisational energy is that of the vehicle and the fuel; we are great at building the vehicle but where we fall short is in creating the fuel that drives the vehicle – organisational energy. The concept of the energy gap and strategies to identify and address it can be a really good exercise; taking a fresh look at the culture of an organisation, likely performance and potentially a source of some innovative improvement projects can help re-energise the business.


Driving decision-making into more peer to peer, cross-functional and multifunctional environments is important in building energy and bridging the gap by sharing and generating energy within – a fuel cell for the vehicle, if you like. 


The concept of Energy fractals which help identify tangible efforts that can drive improvement holistically is an interesting one and could be a way of devising personal and team objectives that are both creative and intrinsically more impactful.


Leadership impact and the way organisations mirror behaviour can be really noticeable in team sports, where the coach is always close to the performers we see on the pitch or in the arena. There are some clues here in being close enough, or at least visible enough, for an energetic and inspiring leader to be truly effective. This environment also reveals when the leader or coach truly ‘gets’ the people and aligns to available skill sets, assigning clear roles and responsibilities.

"Leaders are catalysts and this reflects the power that we have as leaders to influence the environments we create for our people. The starting point is to recognise that leadership is about our followers and that we need to create the conditions in which they will do great work."

Finally, from personal experience, the concepts of purpose and family have a huge impact on the energy in a business and the embeddedness of a culture deeper into the organisation. The ability to rally round a flag of true purpose is key and provides an unambiguous reason for being, drives positive behaviour and provides the ‘Why’ we do what we do. An organisation that, from the top, is equally unambiguous about ‘How’ we do what we do, builds trust and a real sense of belonging, creating a community that draws everyone together. The key is that everyone feels it after a time – internally and externally, and when supported by systematic analysis and strengths-based mentoring, it can result in more robust teams, better business results and best of all, the provision of a truly energised, and more human, place to work.

This article is reproduced by kind permission of Andrew Thompson, Director - Transformation and Change, Envea Global

Picture: Getty Images


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