In his opening presentation at this year’s Global Leadership Summit at Willow Creek Church, Bill Hybels proclaimed that the “most important asset of a leader is energy and the ability to energize other people.”
Envision a hot air balloon, soaring high in the sky. If that is your team, as a leader, you:
· Share your organization’s vision and core values with your team
· Communicate initiatives and progress so your team feels informed and valued
· Empower your team with training
· Encourage and praise your team when they do things well
· Correct a team member gently and privately if they make a mistake
· Teach each team member to become a better leader him or herself
Now think about the pitiful bunch of deflated balloons that are shrunken and hanging down toward the ground. If that is your team, as a leader, you:
· Lack communication skills to teach your team why what they are doing is important
· Fail to share important information so your team feels ill-informed, confused and undervalued
· Expect your team to excel with little or no training
· Forget to praise your team but call them out (publicly) on any and all mistakes
· Consider your team just worker bees there to help you be more important
Communication breeds energy. The energy and passion of your team hinges on good communication. Your team needs to understand what the goal is, and how they play a role in accomplishing that goal. Your team must also know that you value them by sharing information with them regularly – even bad news.
I work at a nonprofit, and find that when staff and volunteers understand what we are trying to accomplish, they have a different perspective on their jobs or tasks. Instead of just putting canned food on the shelf, they are making it possible for a family with an empty pantry and growling stomachs to have food for the week. Now they make sure that the shelves are stocked and the grocery carts stay full.
Instead of just putting price tags on clothing, they are making it possible, through those sales in the thrift store, to keep a family’s electricity on or provide gasoline for that doctor visit they would otherwise have to miss.
Better ideas and decisions can be made when the proper communication channels are in place and everyone is on the same page. I’ve had leaders so aloof they hardly knew what I did and failed to share even basic information consistently. That does not energize me and leads to frustration and negativity.
My best leaders were there sharing, explaining, and cheerleading – and that made me work harder, with more loyalty. Even if the news was bad – sales or donations are down or there had to be layoffs – if my leaders were honest and upfront all along, I respected and supported them and kicked it up a notch to compensate.
How do you energize your team?