As leaders, we notice how our people show up, and we can tell almost instantly if their energy is high, low, missing, needed, or over-the-top.
Often, it’s our job to remedy any energy imbalances to get the team functioning at optimal capacity again.
But here’s the thing: Our people notice our energy levels, too, and if we aren’t intentional about how we show up, it could have some unintentional
consequences. It’s not very often we assess our own energy, but it’s about time we start because in the end, we only have true power over our own energy.
We’re about to explore the brain science behind why our energy as leaders is vital to the success of our team. Plus, we’ll share some strategies for getting your energy in check so that you can be a more effective leader. Jump right in!
Your Brain on Energy
Our brains are designed to read people’s energy levels as part of our ingrained survival instincts. In fact, we unconsciously pick up others’ emotions in eight to 40 thousandths of a second. We quickly read people because it’s part of how we determine whether people are friends or foes.
As social creatures by nature (even the most introverted of us), humans pay attention to patterns. So when we’re in an environment with people we don’t know, our brains are constantly asking, “Am I inspired by this energy or am I threatened by it?”
When you’re a leader, if you’re having a bad day, your energy could lead to your employees feeling threatened by you, and no one wants that. And even if your employees aren’t in a threatened state, they might mirror your energy instead.
Whether you like it or not, employees often mirror leaders’ energy levels
You see, we happen to have these things called mirror neurons, and they basically make us want to mimic what we see. Just think about when babies smile in response to an adult smiling at them. This happens because of their mirror neurons. The same applies to adults and their reaction to others’ energy.
If someone is yelling at you, you might reply with a yell. If someone is stressed, you might start feeling stressed, too. But, it can also work positively. If someone is happy all the time, thanks to our mirror neurons, we’re hardwired to mirror that happiness. So, as a leader, if you exude positive emotions, your employees will likely reflect them back to you.
Positive emotions from others have also been proven to increase personal connection because positive emotions can trigger the release of feel-good hormones. When leaders exude positive energy, they can trigger hormonal secretions of feel-good energy, which allows trust and communication to open up between them and their employees.
Negative emotions, in contrast, can cause the brain to feel threatened and make people shut down. It’s the complete opposite effect. As a leader, you have the power to evoke either response, negative or positive. But first you need to become conscious and aware of your own energy.
3 Tips for Taking Charge of Your Energy Influence
Here are three tips to put you in charge of your energy and lead your team to do the same.
Tip One: Pay Attention.
Start a daily practice of assessing your energy levels. On average, what do they tend to be? Take time to dig deep and pay attention to your energy levels and how they affect others. These efforts don’t need to be too lengthy or exhaustive.
You might choose one day a week to pay attention and assess your energy levels. This can be a simple self-reflection, like asking yourself: “How do I think my energy was internally and how did it translate externally? How are others reacting to my energy?”
You might notice that your internal energy is fine, but it’s not being communicated well. For example, let’s say that you’re from Louisiana, where everyone’s a little loud and boisterous. But now, you live in the Midwest, and you realize that your team members mistake your high volume and enthusiastic energy for yelling.
Of course, this isn’t true, but it’s important that you understand how other people can interpret your energy, positively and negatively, whether intentionally or unintentionally.
Stay tuned into your internal emotions before you peek outside yourself
Tip Two: Don’t Fake It
If you don’t have the energy or are in a bad mood, don’t pretend that you aren’t.
Faking positive energy doesn’t fool anyone. Instead, work on staying neutral on those days and not letting your negative energy get the best of you and your team.
On “off” days, try to put off any tough conversations or team meetings (if possible) to mitigate any potential of negatively impacting the whole team.
When it comes to emotional energy, don’t “fake it til you make it”
Tip Three: Build a Practice of Focus for Positive Energy
If you’ve been assessing your energy and realize that you’re kind of in a rut, that’s okay. There’s a lot you can do to start generating more positive energy. Take time to identify a positive energy source and “capture” it in a metaphorical canister to carry with you. In short, refill your energy tank.
For example, you don’t actually have to talk about your upcoming vacation, but you can use your excitement about it as fuel for your positivity. We all have to do things we don’t want to do, but instead of talking about and focusing on how much we hate them, it’s healthier to ask ourselves how we can take what gives us positive energy and transfer it to something that doesn’t.
Know that changing your default energetic state will take time because it involves changing your habits around how you think and feel about your work and tasks.
But, if you can pick something every day, or a couple of go-to sources that genuinely spark joy, you can leverage them to bring positive energy into every aspect of your life.
Become the Energetic Powerhouse Leader You Were Meant to Be
By understanding that your employees assess your energy just as much as you evaluate theirs, you can profoundly impact the energy levels of the entire team.
If you take some time to recognize your own energy patterns and find some positive energy sources, you can be a beacon of positivity and forward momentum instead of dragging the office down with your low mood.
If you’re interested in discovering how you can keep your internal energy levels high and change how your energy is translated to others, our REFUEL! Program can help.