5 Ways to Energize Your Team

As a leader, you have an effect on people. When you leave the room, people either feel taller or smaller. This is an almost super-hero power, but, unfortunately, leaders are often unconscious of it.

5 Ways to Energize Your Team

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/Yuri_Arcurs

A few years ago, I met with an author I had always admired. It wasn’t our first meeting; I had met with him a few times previously. I had always enjoyed being with him and left our encounters with a renewed commitment to serve him well.

But this time was different. He marched into the meeting with an entourage of assistants and a heavy dose of entitlement. Something had changed.

My people had worked hard to deliver stellar results, particularly in a tough economy. They had spent the weekend preparing, eager to share what they had accomplished. They had slides, handouts, and (they thought) good news to report.

However, he managed to “snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.” He scowled during the presentation. He was cold and aloof. When we were finished, he asked why we hadn’t accomplished more. He offered a litany of complaints.

His staff—several of them new and eager to look smart—followed his lead. They focused on the hole rather than the donut. In our two hours together, not one of them expressed an ounce of gratitude. It was demoralizing and we left feeling diminished.

On the way to the airport, I did my best to encourage my team. They were clearly deflated. One of my senior people sighed, “He made me feel like an idiot.” Another added, “Honestly, that meeting made me want to quit.” In my own heart, I felt precisely the same way.

My guess is that this author had no idea what he had just done. He may even have thought he was somehow motivating us. Not so much. In fact, he had just shot himself in the foot—maybe even in the head.

He had evidently forgotten that, at the end of the day, everyone is a volunteer. People will only go so far in the performance of a duty. If you want their very best, you have to have their hearts. You can’t demand this or even buy it with a paycheck. You have to earn it.

In my experience, there are five ways to do this:

  1. Assume others are smart and working hard.
  2. Listen intently and ask thoughtful questions.
  3. Acknowledge the sacrifices others have made on your behalf.
  4. Express gratitude for their effort and their results.
  5. Remind them why their work is so important and the difference they are making.

Yes, you can talk about issues that need to be addressed, but it has to be done in a way that leaves people motivated about what is possible.

As a leader, you have more power than you think. You will get more of what you focus on. Next time you walk into a meeting, consider, How do I want people to feel when the meeting is over? Begin with the end in mind.

Question: Think back to a great meeting where you left feeling empowered. What happened to make you feel that way? What happened to your performance? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Want to launch your own blog or upgrade to self-hosted WordPress? Watch my free, twenty-minute screencast. I show you exactly how to do it. You don’t need any technical knowledge. Click here to get started.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are snarky, offensive, or off-topic. If in doubt, read My Comments Policy.

  • Karwendasibbs

    l always  followed my pastor wheresoever he went,one time he stood to share  to the church and in the process of his message he commented by saying “all the time when he’s with me he fills smaller” l have heard about this kind of comment from so many people ,can this be it?

  • https://twitter.com/JimClaussen Jim Claussen

    Great story and tips. What’s the saying… “people don’t remember what you said, they don’t remember what you did…. they remember how you made them feel.”  Also, a key word that stands out for me in this post is “gratitude.”

  • MarcelinoGauguin

    I think of a meeting where the facilitator was clearly
    a) emmotionally engaged with us
    b) well prepared
    c) excited about the work
    d) convinced of our ability to make a difference
    This definitely left us empowered and lifted our spirit.

  • http://twitter.com/ron_sparks Ron Sparks

    Nice article, tho I feel the need to say I am getting just as much out of the conversation it has sparked in the comments! It’s great to hear others wisdom.

  • Pingback: If you want someone to change…. « Give me 5 minutes a day and I'll give you a happier, more successful life!

  • Rsblonde29

    This is my situation….I have an amazing team!  They aren’t the “problem”  the Dr is.  I am energetic and up beat and when I first went to this practice the team was “down”.  I did exactly what you said, all 5 and then some.  Brought the team back up , motivated and ready to take on the entire town.  But, daily the life gets sucked out of them.  We as a team and myself as Administrator have had many conversations with the Dr.,  but to no avail.  This Dr. is totally bringing down the team faster than I can encourage them and I always tell them I appreciate them, but b y the end of the day, the “down” takes over.   Please help me, help the Dr….thanks

  • http://www.leadingyourlife.net/ Jason Pulley

    Some great information and a thought to remember when we walk into work each mornning. Making positive impressions and ensuring others feel important will most definitely build a strong team.
    Thank for the reminder!

  • http://www.liveyourwhy.net/ Terry Hadaway

    It was a strange day. The meeting began with a question followed by opportunities to share insights on the issue. As a team, we honed in on a solution and developed a strategy for implementation. The joy of seeing participatory leadership encouraged everyone involved. The eventual implementation of the plan provided a second boost. That kind of meeting never happened again at that church (at least while I was there). Participatory meetings blur the hierarchical lines making the leadership team uneasy.

  • Marco_attia

    A wonderful blog post. I will definitely be paying more attention to how I impact my team in our meetings. My team are all volunteers and they constantly need to feel apppreciated and valued.

    Thanks for reminding me of my duty as a leader.


  • Pingback: 5 Ways to Energize Your Team

  • Edrin Williams

    A recent staff meeting where we put some real issues on the table and skipped the Minnesota Nice dance left me energized and optimistic about our organization’s future. I remember wanting to work a little harder and sacrifice a little more in order to make the most of that momentum! 

  • Pingback: 3 Lessons Learned from A Glorious Failure | A Curious Band of Others

  • http://www.hayseedreport.com/ Bryan Goodwin

    Wow Michael, I have tried to think back to when I was motivated by someone’s presence and really can’t think of any particular time.

    Yet, I do look back and see that I have between that author to some family members. Thank you for that smack to the face. I needed that.

  • Pingback: Do Make Your Employees Feel Taller or Smaller? - minima maxima sunt - David D. Hopkins, PhD

  • Pingback: Work-related blogs

  • http://www.MikeVeny.com Mike Veny

    I recently had a meeting that felt very empowering. Gratitude was expressed. I recently learned that gratitude is one of the healthiest emotions you can have.

  • Jahnkar Rayjit

    Primary aim of every business is to earn money.
    And obviously to earn money organization need people so great leaders always earn people and people
    generate revenue for organization .

    how to earn people is an Art, this can be achieved by maintaining the
    balance between organizational interest
    and people interest obviously this is a very thin layer.

  • Roger Richard

    Very well said and encourage team spirit…………..and you have mentioned all the points……that are required for team spirit…. 8we.org

  • http://www.coachingreallyworks.com/ Abe S.

    I love point two. It’s a great tool used in coaching and makes for an excellent to a managers toolkit.
    Asking open questions is an incredible key to coaching and really works.

  • cato cato

    I’ve never heard anyone in senior management compliment anyone ever.