Leveraging Your Whole Energy
Let’s talk about energy. Workforce and Leadership energy. If you’ve been in the corporate environment long enough, you become very adept at reading the energy radiating from your colleagues and employees. Give me 30 seconds on a Monday morning with a member of my team, and I’ll be able to tell you what the person’s productivity will look like that day. It can be an incredible challenge to deal with a team member who spends the first hours of work recovering from the previous evening or weekend happenings.
Now I want to shift to a different type of energy – sometimes, workforce or leadership energy is described in gender-specific language. In fact, a lot of contemporary research on leadership and personal growth delve into the kinds of masculine and feminine energy that move throughout the business environment. Broadly, masculine energy is described as task-oriented, focused on logic and reason and “doing” while feminine energy is characterized as being more intuitive and nurturing – a state of “being”. Masculine energy is often described with words like confident, focused, assertive, and goal driven. On the other hand, feminine energy is depicted with descriptors like creative, collaborative, understanding, and generous. Overall, our understanding and leverage of these characteristics and traits, and when to best employ them, makes us better leaders while strengthening our teams and our organizations. But what is not helpful? Ascribing these energies based on assigned gender. While different energies are present in every setting, cis-gendered men are not the exclusive proprietors of masculine energy traits, nor do cis-gendered women corner the market on feminine energy. In fact, the use of such language can be incredibly alienating to all sexes.
From a leadership perspective, what is important is for ALL leaders to seek an optimal balance in their energy output. I, for one, tend to be extremely goal-oriented and disciplined and look for the same from the members of my team. Yet, I learned a long time ago (after much self-reflection and some missteps) that by trying to not balance these traits with my more emotional and caring ways, that I wasn’t operating as the type of leader I would want to work for, one that I could trust and follow. As a female wired to present what is described as much more “masculine energy”, my quest for “balance” means I must be intentional about cultivating a space that nourishes understanding, creativity, and flexibility. I’m not saying that I lack these traits; I am saying that my default leadership style – rooted in my personality (DNA? We can debate nature vs nurture another time!)– emphasizes meeting or exceeding deliverables and outcomes, often ahead of schedule and beyond expectations. I’ve learned how to create balance by studying others, by continually self-assessing and also by being incredibly intentional and modelling the balanced type of leadership that teams would follow into the proverbial fire.
Effective organizations develop their leaders to harness the potential of a more balanced, human-centred approach. Effective leaders leverage their WHOLE energy, both as they lead their teams and in advancing the mission and vision of their organization. Celebrate bringing your whole self and energies in your environment and seek balance if your personality and leadership style have you tilting too far in one direction.