Being a leader can be emotionally draining, especially when your team has hit a rough patch. Everyone wants you to fix the problem, but you are not able to see a solution. How can you effectively shift gears and get your team moving again?
The answer is not to dig deeper or try harder. If that were the solution you’d probably have tried it and succeeded already. You need new information and a new perspective in order to achieve new results. After all, we can only do what we know how to do.
“If the only tool you have is a hammer, you treat everything as if it were a nail.” -Abraham Maslow
When leaders are stuck, it can take different forms. Some examples:
- Productive conversations are hard to have; tangents, crossed wires and emotional reactions take the place of clear and effective communication
- You and/or your team have plateaued; the level of achievement is stagnant, you are always dealing with the same problems, fighting the same fires every day
- Negative team interactions are more frequent than positive ones
For more positive results, you need more productive ways of dealing with these situations. When my executive coaching clients are stuck, I give them iPEC’s Energy Leadership Index Assessment to help them reframe their situation.
The Energy Leadership Index Assessment, listed by Forbes as one of the top three tools for effective leadership, helps executives gain the awareness and emotional intelligence they need to produce better outcomes. This is valuable for executives who are in a leadership rut because it makes them aware of how mindset and personal energy influence their situation. With this insight, they can assess and react with greater presence and see more possibilities for their team.
“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” –Maya Angelou
Know your triggers
iPEC’s Energy Leadership Index Assessment evaluates how you “show up” and the personal filters that influence how you react to stress, make decisions, communicate with others, and build relationships.
One key element of the Energy Leadership Index Assessment is being aware of your own energy and your triggers.
Everyone has triggers for feeling more positive or negative throughout the day, and this can affect our energy. For example, when a favorite colleague knocks on your door to ask you to lunch, your energy may surge (a positive trigger). When a client sends a scathing review of your latest creative brief, your energy is likely drained (negative trigger).
Negative triggers shut down your energy and close you off from seeing other possibilities, new ideas, and different perspectives that are your productive “way out” of any situation. For some, their initial reaction is to feel guilt, shame or self-consciousness, causing them to withdraw or disengage from a situation. Others may react more combatively or by blaming others. We all know this as the “fight or flight” response, which is counterproductive in a professional environment. You don’t lead from a powerful position when your reaction is to defend and protect.
The Energy Leadership Index Assessment helps you become more aware of your triggers. When you begin to see or feel your energy changing, the survival response of fight or flight is short-circuited, your stress level is decreased, and you are more in control of the situation. Lowering your stress level makes you more relaxed, so you can take in all of the possible next steps and mindfully choose the best one.
Better team dynamics
My clients say that knowing their triggers helps them see the situation differently, assess their options, and react in a new way, with improved outcomes. With the Energy Leadership Index Assessment and understanding the Energy Principles, you also learn the triggers of those around you, which gives you an even greater command of any situation.
Noticing reactions from your team members enables you to react with responsibility and awareness; you lead, influence, and communicate because you understand yourself and others better.
Triggers and energy are an important part of team dynamics and they are the foundation of your work together. You may not be aware of it, but your team is noticing patterns about your behavior, either consciously or subconsciously. They quickly learn how you will react to positive and negative information. Your reaction informs your team when and how to approach you, and a team dynamic is born.
If your team isn’t functioning well, it may be because of how they view their relationship with you and how much you understand them, given the patterns they are observing with your behavior.
“Good leaders know how to motivate their team, guide them through challenges, and help them manage their own stress.” – Julia Holian
To be a better leader, you need to react in the most positive, productive and approachable way you can in order to create a constructive environment. Your positive attitude lowers the stress level of the group so they, too, can see more possibilities and achieve more, be more effective, and have more positive interactions with you and with each other. In order to do this, you need to know how others see you. Learning to see the Seven Levels of Energy will help you know how to mentor, manage, influence and communicate with your team members, individually and as a group.
How the Energy Leadership Index Assessment Works
iPEC’s Energy Leadership Index Assessment defines energy as the potential for action. There are seven core energy levels; the first two levels are more negative and constricting (called “catabolic”) while levels three through seven are more open and conciliatory (anabolic). The Assessment defines your average level, however, it’s important to be aware of how we shift levels throughout the day as we experience different situations (these are the triggers discussed above). The key to leadership breakthroughs is decreasing catabolic energy and increasing anabolic energy as much as possible.
When you or your team are stuck, it may mean you don’t have the right kind of energy available when you need it. Once you are aware of your current energy level, you can identify what’s put you at that level and what you can do to be more productive and move your energy level up.
The Seven Levels of Energy
Level 1 – Victim thinking, helplessness, fear, blame
Level 2 – Feelings of conflict, fight or flight mentality, resistance, take care of ME
Level 3 – Owning their part in a situation, raised consciousness, seeing both sides. Start taking responsibility for thoughts and actions. The beginning of forgiving, letting go of resentment
Level 4 – Thinking of other people, ready to show compassion, empathy and give service to others. People at this level are givers and may experience Level 1 from time to time because they feel they are the only one that is contributing.
Level 5 – Peace and acceptance, feeling like there is not as much competition. Accepting of differences, holding no judgment for new ideas or opinions. Not threatened by others that have their own strengths. The best leaders are at this level. Creating a culture at that level means everyone operates in a highly collaborative communicative nature, which is very challenging to create if others aren’t at this level also.
Level 6 – No ego. Not looking at people as individuals but seeing the synthesis of how everything is connected. Wisdom. An example is the Dalai Lama, not judging, rather seeing things more clearly, including the connections that make us one.
Level 7 – Non-judgment, absolute passion, no fear, genius thinking. Everything flows, no blocks. Spontaneous and unfiltered. Many people have felt this from time to time, but it is difficult to stay at this level for very long.
Your leadership is a very important aspect of who you are as a professional. As a leader, it can feel very challenging and frustrating to have your team plateau and not know how to break through. Many of my clients have found that learning the Seven Levels of Energy and actively using them throughout the day has helped them break through the plateau and enhanced the dynamic with their team. The simple act of knowing how you react to certain situations is a great start to getting your leadership back on track.
Julia Holian & Associates provides strategy and coaching for career-focused professionals looking to have the career they always wanted. The San Francisco Bay Area-based company was founded in 2016 by Julia Holian, a Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach with more than 20 years of experience in professional development. Julia Holian & Associates guides clients in any industry and recent college grads, with job search strategy and career transition, resume and LinkedIn development, interview preparation, and professional strengths coaching. For more information, please visit: www.JuliaHolian.com.