I asked a question that drained a leader’s energy. She’s facing new challenges and feels trapped.
Meeting challenges, seizing opportunities, and solving people-issues require energy. It’s true that serving in ways that align with your values and strengths has return on energy (ROE). But there’s a limit.
Strengths vs. development:
I asked her, “If this problem had a voice, what would it call you to do or become?”
Her countenance drooped when she heard the question. It’s a development-focused question. But she wasn’t in a development mindset. You could see her energy thermometer go down while she contemplated a response.
You might understand feeling powerlessness when you don’t have authority to change nagging issues.
She said, “I don’t know.”
Normally, when someone says, “I don’t know” it’s an opportunity to dig in and find new approaches. But not this time.
An approach that drains someone’s energy won’t help. I shifted my approach.
“What strength do you currently have that will help you solve this issue?”
She lit up and said, “I care.” Then she told me a story that illustrated how her team knew she cared. The change was remarkable.
The follow-ups might include:
- What does caring leadership look like in this situation?
- How will your team know you care?
- What does care call you to do in this situation?
- How might you solve this issue in a caring way?
- What caring action are you reluctant to take?
You often think you know the ‘best’ way for someone to proceed, but if it drains them they’ll eventually fail. Things that energize you might drain others.
Monitor the impact of your interactions with an energy thermometer. When the temperature dips, shift your approach.
Choose an approach that energizes others. If you don’t, you’ll end up pushing ropes.
How might leaders energize others? Themselves?