A Plan Without Energy is a Car Without Gas

I coach a leader who is preoccupied and impatient. He walks past people without noticing them. He’s testy when interactions hint at taking longer than absolutely necessary.

He’s working to better connect with his team members.


A plan to connect:

I asked him what questions he would ask team members that might strengthen connection. He developed a few options. 

The next thing I asked ignited his energy.

What would you like to tell your team members that might strengthen connection? He leaned forward. His vocal tone and volume went up. His hands and arms gesticulated.

  1. I’d tell them I appreciate their work.
  2. I’d notice something good they were doing.
  3. I’d let them know their work matters to our customers.

Energy for the plan:

I described the change I saw in his energy when he thought about what he would say instead of what he would ask. Planning to say something positive ignited his energy.

We decided that his conversations to connect would begin with the thing that energized him. He developed a brief four part conversation plan.

  1. Say something good. Give a compliment.
  2. Ask a question. Perhaps, “What’s working for you?” or, “What are you learning?” or, “How could we be better?”
  3. Leave a bit of yourself with the person. Open your heart. Tell them how their contribution makes you feel. “It makes me feel like we’re heading in the right direction when I see the contribution you’re making.”
  4. End with thank you.
  5. Walk away.

See energy:

  1. Watch for bright eyes.
  2. Listen for enthusiastic vocal tones.
  3. Observe body language like leaning in.

Leadership project: Make a list of three things that energize each of your team members.

When energy goes up:

  1. Notice it.
  2. Respect it. 
  3. Fuel it by going with it.

How might leaders ignite and leverage energy in their team members?