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Monday, November 22, 2010

Invite the Energy: 7 Ways

It has been a while since I last wrote back in July. Between leading the leadership institute, my work, family and a long list of other things, I had to balance the energy across the various demands.

To keep this posting short and to the point here are seven different ways to being energy into your circles:

1. Setting a Realistic and Compelling Vision
A vision of what tomorrow will look like, or what the to-be will be, is a strong energy magnet. However it needs to be relevant to the audience and not overwhelming. I recall years ago, a colleague of mine who worked at Cisco Systems, once described John Chambers' motivational drive as magic. He mentioned that whatever John envisions turns into a reality rally. Managers appreciate employees who not only identify problems, but also view problems as opportunities. Employees or team members who are constantly overly critical and non-generative are energy drainers. Creating an environment that allows team members to visualize solutions, predict needs, forecast demands and articulate the future will bring exponential energy into the team's environment. Cisco's technology is not necessarily the greatest or most advanced, however the clear vision that Chamber has set for Cisco has made it a leader in its industry.

2. Making a Difference
Being part of a team is one thing, and delivering part of the vision as part of the team is a totally different thing. Contributing and producing work that directly impacts the vision is a contagious act, the more work gets developed the higher the energy levels. People like to feel that their work is of utility and is making a positive impact on the final outcome. This is one of the reasons it is advisable to do consistently little than doing much in chunks, to keep that energy level above a level where it dies out. Energized team members are those who are active on conference calls and meetings, they listen, share and speak. They provide opportunities for others to get involved in discussions, they facilitate problem solving, and take on initiatives, they are humble and respect other people's opinions and are not blinded by their own sights and perspectives. It is not necessarily the smartest in the group that energizes the group, but rather the most consistent and committed. I have always found committed people to be people who have a sense of ownership, and really care about the cause. Even when they are extremely busy, they will be able to find a few moments to keep the momentum going.

3. Separation of Ideas from Sources
Energizers are focused on accomplishing and progressing. An energizer is someone who has a passion in solving the problem at hand. We usually notice that in discussing conflicting ideas energizers focus on the idea being discussed, and not the person who suggested the idea. This separation keeps the energy level high by decoupling the value statement from the contributor, so rather than mentioning to a team member "you said this, which will not work ..", an energizer would state something like "given our goals and the proposals on the table, here is another alternative which we also might wish to consider due to it advantages .."

4. Small Steps Lead to Huge Leaps
Starting somewhere early is better than starting later, or not starting at all. In many cases small steps might seem as if they are random pieces of a puzzle in the vacuum. They really are not, they are small components of a larger foundation that has just not been complete yet. Encourage small steps and ideas, as long as they tie back to the mission of the team, even if when these steps are isolated and seem to be random or ad-hoc. These accomplishments will fortify your sense of accomplishment and keep the energy growing.

5. Passion, Compassion and Love
We are humans,  not machines. Spreading passion about the cause and mission will only invite others to share the values and goodness resulting from the mission. We need to not only talk about team's progress and the difference its work has been making, but we have to explain it with passion, love and sincerity. Good people - those that you want around you after all - strive to compete in goodness. Everyone on the team will want piece of the rewards, and will not want to miss out on helping the next underprivileged group or great cause. Be the compassionate leader, clearly showing your empathy for others and appreciating the efforts and sacrifices everyone is contributing.

6. Lead with Integrity and Build Trust
Our behavior is a catalyst of how our social interactions are energized. Others are influenced by our characteristics and behavior, and integrity is on the top of the list. We are not talking about thugs that we are trying to energize, we are talking about the majority of the world out there. They will have a high appreciation of others' integrity and that will drive energy and motivation.

Energizing interactions are not only influenced by our behaviors, but also our interactions with others. Building trust is as simple as keeping a word, showing up to a meeting one is expected to be at, delivering what is expected, acting as promised and being the character we portray to others we are. Trust is making sure surprises do not happen, and others who depend on us are not left in the dark. Trustworthy people always get back to others even if the news is grim.

7. Sleep Well, Eat Good and Get Up Early
Nothing beats an early bird who gets up before the sunrise to reflect on the creation, remember the Lord of the Universe, thank the Creator, and appreciate a new day in one's life that will come only for once and never return after its sun sets.

Have other ways to invite the energy? Please share it with all of us in the comments here.