In this article, we will talk about the power behind engagement.
Several years ago, a groundbreaking concept emerged. It was introduced in the book, The Power of Full Engagement: Managing Energy, Not Time, Is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal. In the book, Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz documented stories based on years of research and working with high performing individuals in the sports, entertainment, and business industries.
They defined full engagement as something that occurs when a person is “physically energized, emotionally connected, mentally focused, and spiritually aligned with a purpose beyond their immediate self-interest.”
Think about it.
Have you ever been so absorbed in your work that hours passed before you realized you hadn’t eaten lunch or taken a break all day? That is full engagement. It usually occurs when you are physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually using your strengths to accomplish a meaningful purpose. It is high and sustained energy.
What is your most important organizational resource?
Is it time, people, goods, or services?
According to Jim and Tony, “The most important organizational resource is energy.”
And I am inclined to agree.
Imagine you as a leader have a team of individuals with each member working in their strengths, fully engaged – so engaged in their work that you have to remind them it is time to go home for the day. Have you ever experienced just one day like that? What would happen if you did?
As a leader, one of your most important roles is that of energy catalyst. How do you create energy on your team?
- Strengths-Based Energy
Placement of team members in positions that allow them to use their strengths creates energy. For example, if you place someone who is a “people person” in a cubicle to work on complex spreadsheets all day every day, you will, in relatively short order, take a high energy employee to a low-energy liability. If you repeat this often enough, you have a highly dysfunctional team. If, instead, you place that person in a position where they are in contact with people each day, they will add strengths-based energy to your team. And they will create results.
It’s about, as Jim Collins alluded, getting people not only on the bus, but in the right seats on the bus. How do you know who is best suited for each position? Use a tool like the DISC assessment or strengths mapping to create a strengths-based team.
- Physical Energy
As a leader, there are some things you can do to protect the physical energy of your team members. This might take the form of an employee wellness program. According to one study, 57% of people with high health risk reached low-risk status by completing a worksite cardiac rehabilitation and exercise program. Johnson and Johnson reported savings of $250 million on health care costs across the 6-year period of research, noting a return of $2.71 for every dollar spent.
Another way a leader can maintain the physical energy of the team is encourage each team member to take their vacation. Time away is a cost to the company, yes, but it can also be an investment in renewed energy. If you notice an employee is working through lunch and seldom taking a break, encourage them to go out to lunch and otherwise step away from their desk for a short period of time every two hours or so. In the not-so-old-days, the longer a person worked, the more perceived value they had as an employee. We know now that quality can be much more effective than quantity.
- Emotional Energy
Emotional energy is about connection. Observe your team. Are they connected? Do they respect and rely upon each other’s strengths to accomplish objectives…or are they each working in individual silos? When a team of individuals brings their collective strengths to the table, it is amazing what happens. The energy is compounded exponentially.
- Mental Energy
This is about focus. Focus in today’s business world is a challenge. It is hard to reach a level of focus when you are constantly bombarded with emails, texts, people showing up at the door to chat, and so on. Give your team focus time – some suggest 90-minute intervals. Give your team members permission to turn off email and phone calls during focus time. And, by the way, we as leaders can be some of the worst offenders in this by expecting immediate response to our emails and calls. In doing this as a leader, you may be short-circuiting the mental energy of your team.
- Spiritual Energy
This is about being connected to purpose. As a leader, you can help your team connect to purpose by sharing with them the big picture vision – by connecting the part they play to the overall vision and mission of the organization. If you can help them connect what they do to the needs of your customers, it will provide the energy needed to fuel their work. The up and coming businesses in today’s world are often purpose-based. Toms Shoes is an example of a high purpose-high energy company. They are connected to purpose at every level.
Our goal as leaders should be to create a high-energy team. High energy fosters full engagement. And full engagement creates profit. Concerned about your bottom line? It might be time to check your power lines.