21 February 2019
I have heard a few analogies recently that describe different people and their energy. Chatting with one of my team, she described mirrors and lightbulbs. UKFast Managing Director Jonathan speaks of the size of the shadow that people cast. Invariably, these analogies come down to light. In their simplest form:
Some people are lightbulbs. By their very nature, they generate light and energy. They light up the room.
Some people are mirrors, they reflect the light around them but need that lightbulb to generate any light. They bounce off others.
And in contrast, inevitably some people are shadows. They block out the light creating shadows for those around them; they’re energy saps.
So how is it possible to motivate and manage a team with all of these personalities? The first step is knowing into which category you fit. Are you a light, are you a mirror or are you a shadow?
I would assume that few people would, but if you identify yourself as a shadow, that’s a red flag. How can you motivate anybody if all you’re bringing to the table is negative energy? Take some time to look at why you feel that you’re sapping energy from those around you.
If you’re a mirror, think about where your light is and who you are relying on for that energy. And, if you’re a lightbulb, are you blinding people with too much energy? Think about the areas in which you can improve and bring process to your ideas, for example.
Often the easiest way to recognise whether you bring, bounce or sap energy is to look at the impact you have on a room when you enter. Look at the reaction, if people sit up straight and look engaged and interested, if people look afraid or concerned. What does their body language say?
Being a light
As a leader, your team look to you to be the lightbulb. Part of your responsibility as a leader is to motivate and generate energy, which doesn’t come naturally for many people. Invariably, leadership comes with challenges and stresses, the greatest leaders are able to put these aside rather than becoming a greater shadow and passing that pressure and stress onto their teams.
Speaking of shadows, some years ago, I was fascinated by a man called Larry E Senn. Larry carried out pioneering research in the 1970s and soon became known as the ‘father of corporate culture’. His research revealed that, in business, employees become ‘a shadow of their leaders’. This imitation is how culture is created. Team leaders, managers and directors are the example set, they reflect the important values of the business, they influence the shadow cast by the rest of the company.
If you or your leadership team do not reflect energy and light, instead they absorb it, drain it, that will be reflected throughout the rest of the business. Great culture in business relies on great energy throughout the entire team.
So take some time today to think about your energy and that of those around you. Are you creating the right ripple effect throughout the business? It’s easy to change; a smile, a ‘good morning’ or a ‘thank you’ can change the course of someone’s day and be reflected on those around them.