Energising for Performance

23 Nov 2016


Rhodie Miller, Executive Search and Recruitment Team Leader, shares insights from the Executive Education Program she attended at Kellogg School of Management in Chicago.

I spent a week in June this year at the Kellogg School of Management in Chicago at one of their Executive Education Programs – Energising People for Performance. There is a school of thought, backed by ground breaking *research undertaken by Wayne Baker, Rob Cross and Andrew Parker that recognises that power and influence have less to do with an employee’s position on the organisational chart and more to do with their ability to energise others in their network.

The content of the Kellogg Program was structured around leading and managing to create your personal presence and influence to get the best out of your staff, so they bring their best thinking and ideas to work every day.

Leading and mandating others to lead underpins much of what we do on a daily basis. An energised individual will elevate performance in a way that can be contagious to the rest of the team or organisation.

Energising behaviour is not the same as high energy or charismatic behaviour. Essentially, energising behaviour is about letting people know that they matter. When trying to energise others, its useful to understand that people are motivated by their own unique self-interest. That motivation can be intrinsic or extrinsic. Addressing an employee’s unique motivation triggers is the best way to release their energy and align it to a shared vision.

What Energisers do really well is to create a compelling vision by focusing on opportunities and possibilities and help others feel engaged. They are goal-oriented but flexible about how to get there–they allow progress to occur with risks being taken. While that is occurring, they learn more about the people or the person. Energisers are good at saying what they think and in the process, maintaining integrity between what they say and what they do. This influences a willingness to believe that the goal is worthwhile and achievable.

As a general rule, individuals will only go so far in performing day to day tasks and the onus is on leadership to help orchestrate the range of energies that people can bring to what they do. If you want their very best from people, you have to have their heart’s and that means you need to:

My take away from Kellogg was that genuine leadership comes from the quality of your vision and your ability to create the spark in others for extraordinary performance. Good leadership deliberately creates interpersonal and organisational environments that make it easier for people to connect and commit their energies to the goals of their groups, organisation or communities.

Focusing on human energy opens up many practical opportunities for leadership, opportunities that may otherwise be underestimated or unused or completely ignored. Next time you walk into a meeting, consider, how you want people to feel when the meeting is over.

Begin with the end in mind.

*Research by Wayne Baker, Rob Cross (assistant professor at the University of Virginia’s McIntire School of Commerce), and Andrew Parker (then research associate at the IBM Institute for Knowledge-Based Management in Cambridge, Mass.) was able to measure the long-noted influence that energizing relationships have on performance.