Open Leadership – Energy cannot be created or destroyed


The first law of thermodynamics stated in simple terms is that energy cannot be created or destroyed, only transformed.

As a leader, you may talk about your staff being “de-energised or de-motivated”, or alternatively you might say talk with your leadership team about energising your team.

Hmm. The thing is, as long as your people are fuelling themselves normally, getting rest and recovery time, looking after their bodies etc (a whole other conversation!), that law of physics indicates you may be best served to look at this differently.

Consider your people as balls of energy that get renewed daily. They can choose how much of that energy they expend, where they direct it. Furthermore, they can all choose to be aligned in where they spend it within the business, or they can ping around at random if not aligned.

You cannot then “energise your people”, by adding energy to them. However, you can inspire, engage, motivate, align them such that they focus the energy they have on the goals you create for them.

As I frequently say, one definition of a leader is “a leader is someone others choose to follow”.  Do your people follow you? Or, do they focus their energy only partly on that, and only with partial alignment?

We all have seen and some of us have worked in environments where people are, to quote the inimitable Dolly Parton, “working 9 to 5, what a way to make a living”.

I did this in one or two of my first jobs, but was also fortunate to get early exposure to the hospitality and tourism industries, recognising early on that leadership is all about aligning energy and setting your people off to serve their customers. Again considering physics, so much easier to achieve things where there is no friction, no resistance. Where there is resistance, energy is wasted there rather than going smoothly and quickly to serve the customer and so the goals of the business.

I regularly come back to leadership themes around energy in my writing, as it is one of the three core areas top leaders focus on with their people, yet so little is taught about it in MBAs and leadership and management development.

Energy is critical, and, when focused upon, creates amazing results.

What inspired me to come back to it today?

Well, recently I was in the offices of an amazing fast growing business with one of their inspiring young leaders. That leader toured me around at mid-morning on a Friday. In a huge open plan floor filled with well over a hundred desks, it looked like only at most 15% of the staff were in the office.

In another business, in another industry, another decade, that would be unheard of and cause for concern. In this business, the leader was absolutely cool with it. It was immediately clear that this was planned flexibility. Planned management of the energy of the business, one that runs on human IQ and application of energy. This business has chosen to empower their staff in this way so that they choose to focus their energy on the business and their goals within it wherever they are physically located.

#OpenLeadership as a new leadership paradigm has, at the heart of it, awareness of and focus on leadership of energy.

A leader is someone others choose to follow.

I hope this post bring your attention and awareness to your own leadership and you can consider even one or two tiny tweaks to align energy and reduce friction.

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