Super Power #3 – Energy

I know, just last week I said you had to sell and now you have to be a pom pom girl too?  YES.  Become the cheerleader, save the…project.  (You know what I mean).  And let me be clear, when I say “energy” I mean two things: (1) the raw enthusiasm you bring when you walk in the door and (2) the energy you and the team get from doing meaningful things.  This can be a potent mix to help you create excellence (and have more fun while you’re at it).

Check out this amazing illustration of what motivates us as knowledge workers:

It is not your sole responsibility to keep the team engaged, but you are one of the ‘spiritual leaders’ of the team and you must help them connect their work to the value it will provide to your end users.  Hopefully, you are working on a project that actually DOES provide value and that is something to be excited about. If the project has no value, you need to escalate that and help your steering group understand this is not the best use of the team’s time. If the team is not engaged, they will not do their best work.

I am not above being a bit over-the-top with my energy (as I am sure my teammates will tell you!) You have to find your comfort level here (and then push a little higher) but please bring a high level of excitement.  People will appreciate it if you are sincere. Likewise, they will all sense immediately if you are not sincere.

So do you bring this kind of energy to your team now?  And whether you do or don’t, what practical steps can you take to get better?

  1. Go buy something from Tony Robbins or another success coach you like. (Yes really!)
  2. Read a (good) book on leadership.
  3. On your VERY NEXT engagement with your team, make sure your focus is not only on the “what” we have to do but also on the “why” we should do it.
  4. And this may sound odd, but…exercise.  It takes energy for a while but sure does give it back later!

As always, love to hear your experiences with this and any advice you have on the subject!

And for next week, I am very excited to talk about Super Power #4 – Scope Negotiation.  It will be good fun.

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3 thoughts on “Super Power #3 – Energy

  1. Taylor Tyng

    While I appreciate and share many of the same opinions here, I wish people would stop using the Dan Pink RSA piece. As good as it is, and it is no doubt insightful it you haven’t seen it, it in part also misrepresents the actual was study that was done. Don’t get me wrong here, it is worth watching, but I think that people are taking the “be positive” stance to a point which I also think is becoming counter-productive. Those who like the Dan Pink movie should also watch Barbara Ehrenreich’s talk “Smile of Die” (, also done by RSA Animate. As a leader you want passion and intensity, but being a cheerleader is not part of your job. Bringing perspective and understanding to show value is decision-making is your job. Being a mentor is your job. Being consistent is your job. Being approachable and accessible is your job. Leaders need not lead loudly to lead successfully. I think that that is getting confused a lot right now.

    1. Thanks Taylor — I think you’re right that the video is getting a ton of air time right now, must really hit a chord. Appreciate your perspective as well. If you energy is without substance, everybody just rolls their eyes when you walk in the door. Of course those things you list are hugely important. I’m not advocating being Chris Farley in a van down by the river, but too few of the organizational leaders out there cannot clearly articulate themselves or bore you to death doing it. So I just want leaders to be…leaders. Passion is part of it (as you mentioned).

      1. Todd

        In regard to the Dan Pink piece, I don’t look at it as requiring all-or-nothing acceptance. I think it contains some interesting ideas and a different way of looking at individual and group dynamics in the workplace. I disagree with a good number of the conclusions drawn, but there’s value in understanding the source of those disagreements, and value in trying some of the ideas in siutations where other approaches have not been met with much success.

        It may be that “cheerleader” isn’t the best term, but the leader absolutely needs to be an effective point person. Under ideal circumstances, this tends to be positive as the team is working on projects that provide clear business value. Under less-ideal scenarios, it may be laying out the understanding for why the business is doing something ill-considered and the tactical decisions made to accommodate that. In any case, having perspective, a good understanding of the key considerations at play, an ability to provide rational, supportable explanations for decisions made, and taking personal responsibility for those decisions are all things I’d look for in a leader, whatever we call them.

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