(Clue to best answer – the most powerful leaders exude Positive Relational Energy.)
The biggest hearted people leave warm glows in their wakes. Their kind, expansive energy embalms those they encounter with uplifting ripples that happily linger. We remember their positive vibe and forever think fondly of them. As Maya Angelou famously said “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
As well as, and beyond, the feel-good factor however, authentically energising people prove to be the most impactful and desirable souls in business. Their natural disposition infectiously uplifts others stimulating improved performance, not just in individuals but, by virtuosity, the entire organisation.
A 2022 Harvard Business Review study found that the greatest predictor of success for leaders is “not their charisma, influence, or power. It is not personality, attractiveness, or innovative genius. The one thing that supersedes all these factors is Positive Relational Energy: the energy exchanged between people that helps uplift, enthuse, and renew them.”
In Positive Relational Energy, we’re not talking about fluffy, superficial ‘smile and the world smiles with you’ types, but leaders honouring their own values, working with integrity, nurturing the workforce with sincerity, demonstrating emotional intelligence and kind authority. This, the researchers conclude, is the ‘most underutilised yet powerful predictor of leadership and organisational success.’
With our sticky global burnout crisis employee wellbeing remains both top of every corporate and personal agenda as employees fervently seek the utopia of a sustainable work/life blend (not balance as we all agree that’s impossible). There’s an acknowledgement that good mental health is a priority for high performance and that positive culture is a core determinant of a flourishing organisation. Key to that culture is the necessity for a high proportion of Positive Relational Energy. That energy which uplifts, enthuses and renews.
Think about how you feel at work when you are blanketed with psychological safety. When you are inspired by a colleague or boss exuding a present, giving and invigorating energy. You can’t help but brighten and feel more motivated. You want to share an idea, take action, build something, etc. You come to life and feel infused with their excitement, as their enthusiasm effervesces contagiously.
Interestingly, it’s a physical surge as well as a mental boost. Your body responds hormonally with oxytocin release and at a cellular level with reduced inflammation and increased immunity longer term. Extrinsically, the company benefits too, with stats linking a higher proportion of positive energy ambassadors with superior shareholder returns, and outcomes exceeding industry averages in profitability and productivity by a factor of 4 or more.
On the flip side, research by UC Irvine professor Sarah Pressman reveals that feeling dis-connected relationally, alone and lonely, at work or home, leads to a higher risk of death than smoking or obesity! Seriously.
Unequivocally, we need more Positive Energisers (again, to reiterate, we are not talking about tap-dancing clowns, but values-based leaders more concerned with you than themselves). We need more Positive Relational Energy consistently in our lives and businesses. We need to play well together at work to make the work better (and fun). Fundamentally, we need to become aware of how we make others feel.
If you’re not already in the Positive Energiser category but want your career, organisation and personal happiness to thrive it’s essential you take accountability for yourself to get there.
Reflecting on several of the meetings/calls/socials you had last week, consider these 10 items:-
- Your energy in the room at the beginning, during, by the end
- Your language
- Your posture
- Your eye contact
- Your tone
- Your mental contribution
- Your emotional contribution
- Your mindset/attitude at the beginning, during, by the end
- Your role in setting/changing/improving the mood
- Your productivity
Now observe any patterns which cropped up where you notice you de-energised others, or successfully energised others.
Take these observations into your next 10 meetings across the coming week with time reserved (five mins is fine) to do the above exercise immediately after each meeting for one full week fastidiously.
Ultimately, you will become aware of how you do or don’t uplift, enthuse and renew others so you can practice being a do-er until it becomes second nature.
Once you step into consciously playing the role of a Positive Energiser you’ll find more pleasure in your day to day I promise. Just remember, it needs to be 100% from the heart, not fake, nor manipulative. Zone into your true self, honouring your value-set and be you, be your most positive, energising you.
With love and best wishes to play the game well and flourish, Bianca x
NB Last week, we bid farewell to one of life’s positive relational energisers. I’m blessed to have worked with him for the short time I did and write this article in loving and respectful tribute to Nick Barron, a big-hearted soul taken devastatingly too soon.