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Finding our Spark Again

Suneel Gupta
Monday, May 22, 2023

After nearly a decade of research, I have come to realize that people do not fall short of the objective because they run out of time or talent – they run out of energy.

According to research from Gallup, less than 15% of employees worldwide currently feel engaged with their jobs. And we know engagement isn’t just about the number of hours we put into a task – it’s about the quality of the energy we bring to each hour.

And yet, In the world of business, we often think in units of time rather than units of energy. That is changing. Leaders who thrive must now quickly come to understand that managing time is not enough. We need to learn how to manage our own energy, as well as the energy of the people around us.

Understanding Energy

Unlike time, energy can be difficult to measure. Project managers, for example, can predict, with some degree of accuracy, how many hours it will take to start and complete an initiative. But what about the amount of energy it will take to deliver a quality outcome? That’s trickier to quantify.

One important thing to keep in mind is that when we talk about energy, we’re not referring to caffeine-infused, chest-thumping, table-pounding behavior. We’re referring to creativity, optimism, and resilience.  When you have a high level of energy, you’re more likely to stay committed to a task even when the going gets tough.

In contrast, when people lack energy, they become disengaged, less productive, and more likely to leave a task unfinished or abandon a project altogether. I travel the world studying leaders of organizations. One of the most common things I hear about a failed initiative is that it began with a lot of excitement, but fizzled out over time. 

How to build an energy-forward culture

Building energy and keeping it high requires a multifaceted approach. Here are some simple strategies you can put into practice immediately:

  1. Practice the 55:5 model. For every 55 minutes of work, try to build in 5 minutes of rest for yourself and your teams. That means calling 55-minute meetings and encouraging periodic rest. At the surface, this might seem like you’re reducing output, but the science tells us that every 5-minute renewal makes the other 55 minutes far more productive, effective, and creative. In fact, high performers in business and beyond tend to take somewhere around 8 breaks every single day. 
  2. Prioritize your own energy. Burnout is contagious – when you’re worn out, that’s hard to hide, especially from your teammates. Remember that nearly 90% of communication is non-verbal. You can be saying all of the right things but if your energy is low, that rubs off on everyone else.
  3. What’s good for you is good for business. Begin to tear down the walls between work and well-being. Be the kind of leader who reminds their people that in order to do our best work we need to be our best selves. And that can only happen if we’re prioritizing our own well-being. After all, both work and well-being have been scientifically linked to peak performance. More than balance, we need the two to be in harmony. 

The world of work is changing, and we must change with it. Managing units of time is no longer sufficient. Every leader must now understand how to manage energy. It is quickly becoming an essential leadership quality in 2023 and beyond. 

Leaders who don’t catch up will be left behind. The ones who do will be better equipped to inspire their team members, manage their workload, and foster the type of environment that talented people never want to leave.


To learn more, visit: https://www.executivespeakers.com/speaker/suneel-gupta 


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