We all know what CEO stands for, don’t we? The Chief Executive Officer. Wow, what power - executive: it’s all about making decisions, and on decisions all our destinies hang. But recently I read a great piece by Tony Schwartz who proposed a new meaning for CEO and one which I prefer, and which ought to become common currency. What about the CEO as The Chief Energy Officer? Yes, now that I like!
Following his theme, Tony reckoned that the “fundamental job of a leader is to recruit, mobilise, inspire, focus, direct, and regularly refuel the energy of those they lead.” Absolutely - this is another way of saying what we have been banging on about for ages: a core responsibility of the leader is to motivate staff. And what is good about what Tony is recognising is that this is not a one-off sort of activity - like a decision might be - ‘refuelling’ is precisely what staff need from time to time.
He goes on to give the most ten common adjectives that describe the ‘best boss’ you (a sample of thousands over a decade) have ever had: encouraging, inspiring, kind, positive, calm, supportive, fair, decisive, smart, and visionary. Some two thirds of these adjectives are emotional qualities, not intellectual or analytical skills. Put another way, what people most value in a leader are their emotional and energetic attributes - the touchy-feely stuff rather than the hardcore clever stuff.
Further, Tony cites research by Bruce Avolio and Fred Luthans that finds in reviewing over 200 leadership studies only one quality among leaders “consistently had a positive impact on ... employees”. And this quality was the capacity to “recognise potentials that the employees didn’t yet fully see in themselves”. Or, “best leaders used their own positive energy to bolster their employees’ faith in their own abilities”.
In short, leaders - the best - grow people: we water them with our energy and our belief in them. Thus it is an imperative for all leaders to become masters of energy - and the motivation that feeds it.