How to Be a More Energetic Leader

On a recent Catalyst Podcast, Andy Stanley said, “The best thing a leader can bring to his team is his energy” (quoting Bill Hybels). I agree. This has certainly been my experience.A Runner Jumping into the Air - Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/caracterdesign, Image #1831312

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/caracterdesign

As a leader, everything you do is contagious. If you are discouraged, pessimistic, or lacking in energy, people will feel it. The organization will reflect it. It will spread faster than an oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Conversely, when you are upbeat, energetic, and optimistic, people also feel it. It will have an effect on your team and the outcomes you hope to create.

The best leaders don’t leave their energy level to chance. They are intentional about creating it. Here are some ways I have found to be a more energetic leader:

  1. Get a good night’s sleep. I need seven hours of sleep to feel rested. Others may need more; some will need less. Determine what you need and make sure you get it. The best way to do this is to get to bed on time.
  2. Eat smart. Your diet affects your energy level more than you realize. Don’t just eat what you enjoy at the moment. Instead, eat for the effect it will have later. This is one reason why I generally avoid pasta for lunch. It makes me sleepy and lethargic in the afternoon.
  3. Exercise regularly. If you are not a regular exerciser, you might think that regular exercise will deplete your energy. Not so. It will make you sleep better, but it will also give you more energy during the day.
  4. Avoid negative people. Those who are negative—or worse, cynical—will drag you down. I used to think I could bring them up. But I soon discovered that there are some people who enjoy being miserable. They are energy vampires. The best antidote is to surround yourself with positive people.
  5. Decide to be energetic. This is huge. Unless you are ill, you can be more energetic by simply acting more energetic. I am always surprised at how my emotions follow my body. If I walk faster, sit on the edge of my seat, and smile, I will eventually feel more energetic.

Your energy level has a bigger effect on your team than you may realize. The good news is that you can be a more energetic leader by becoming more aware and intentional about developing it.

If you want to go deeper, here are a few more ideas on How to Boost Your Energy Level.

Question: What do you do to bring more energy to your team?
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  • http://twitter.com/jalc6927 @jalc6927

    One of my daily affirmations is, "I have an incredible energy level." This is written each morning along with several others designed to keep me focused on the right attitudes. As a leader, I must set the pace for my team.

  • http://www.twitter.com/danieldecker Daniel Decker

    I think this post has huge implications for us all. If leadership is influence (as John Maxwell says) then the energy we project (positive) or the energy we take away )negative) is the influence we pass along. Every choice we make, every action we take, it all comes down to that energy being something builds others up or tears them down. Physical energy is an important component (the fuel to power the engine) but emotional energy being what radiates from inside out to influence others. :)

  • http://www.ricardobueno.com Ricardo Bueno

    They say "you are the company you keep." As a result, I try not to surround myself with negative people. Instead, I surround myself with people who are as passionate, upbeat and driven as I am.

    Great list (I agree with all of 'em). Your energy is going to reflect in every which way (through your tone, your gestures, etc.). Find the thing that inspires you the most and focus on exuding that kind of passion/inspiration all day long.

  • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

    Great post, Michael. One of the best ways I've found to energize a team is to have an exciting goal in place. It needs to be attainable and offer some type of reward for participants. When I worked in auto repair, our shop would put together a weekly goal of 150 flagged hours/week. If all three techs hit 50 hours we would reach the goal and each person would get a $50 bonus. This meant coming in early and staying a few minutes late on some days. As the service manager, I would help out by doing some of the mundane work (like oil changes) so the mechanics could focus on more important jobs. It was fun and most weeks we hit the mark. It also increased the energy level. As the shop leader it was often my attitude and energy that helped on crunch day. If I didn't push and focus on the goal, the guys would go home early and be depressed when they didn't get the bonus. This small attitude difference made a big difference in shop morale.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      This is an excellent point. I think keeping the goal short-term focused is good, too. The less time between the effort and the reward, the better.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/LawrenceWilson Lawrence W. Wilson

    One way I "act energetic" when I'm not feeling it is to smile before entering a meeting. A smile always gets returned and sets a positive tone.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Geoffreywebb Geoff Webb

    Yes! Energy!

    Along the same lines, I'd advise leaders to know where they get their energy from. Are you more extroverted (you gain energy from being around other people) or more introverted (you gain energy from being alone). extroversion or introversion is all about where you get your energy from (this definition really set me free early in my career).

    Once you know that, you can manage your energy better. For example, I speak for a living and I'm very energetic and passionate; I put it all out there for my listeners. People are amazed when they discover I'm an introvert. Public speaking, being "on," and spending all day (or days) with people is incredibly draining for me. The trick is, I know I need to charge my batteries before and after a session or workshop.

    So make sure you're spending enough time alone or with other people depending on your needs.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      This is so true, Geoff. I am also an introvert but spend a lot of time in the public. Over time I have built some stamina, but if I go several days without alone time, I suffer for it. Increasingly, I schedule this time, so I don't find myself “running on empty.”

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/patriciazell patriciazell

    I think pacing oneself is important in having energy. Going back to the fable of the tortoise and the hare, a steady pace wins the day. I tend to think about the big picture and then try to keep things in balance. And, I also find that talking a lot to God helps me maintain a positive attitude which in turn boosts my energy.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/ronlane Ron Lane

    I absolutely agree that energy is one thing that makes a great leader. How do you fit the exercise into your schedule? I know that you run, about how many miles to do you log a day / week?

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      I exercise in the mornings. I get up at 5:00 a.m., read my Bible, then my RSS feeds. I then do my exercise from 6:00 to 7:00. I do strength training Mon, Wed, and Fri. I run Tue, Thu, and Sat. My mileage varies, depending on whether or not I am training for a race. Right now—post half marathon—I am only doing 9–12 miles a week.

  • http://www.courtneywalsh.typepad.com Courtney Walsh

    I work in my home (freelance writer, but even bigger than that… CEO of this family!) :) And I gotta say your tips translate to what I do too. My "team" is definitely following my lead…and I am especially bad about projecting energy. I'll spend some time faking it till I make it and see how that goes over! :)

    Thanks for the tips!

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      Being a mom is not for wimps. It can be incredibly demanding. My only advice is be intentional about taking care of you! You can fall into the trap of taking care of everyone but you, and that can be destructive.

  • http://fghart.wordpress.com/ Fran

    I definitely believe this: I've witnessed it and lived it from both sides. One other note – sometimes in order to keep my own level of energy high I have to plan for (and look forward to) down time. I'm taking today off to work in my yard and take care of personal business. Last week was an exhausting series of high-level meetings balanced with ongoing business activities. I blocked today off on my calendar and successfully protected it from new demands. A day of sunshine is a great reward and an opportunity to renew/replenish my energy levels. Even extreme extroverts need to recharge away from the crowds on occasion.

    • http://fghart.wordpress.com/ Fran

      I do have a question about #4 – what are your thoughts on the energy vampires within your own organization?

      • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

        I am sure we have some, but I am not aware of any. I simply don’t keep them around me. All my direct reports are energetic, positive people.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      I schedule time, too. I do this weekly, but also for an extended period each quarter.

  • http://www.therextras.com BarbaraBoucher PTPhD

    All worthy principles, Michael, and to which I ascribe. At the same time, I meet many people who do not have the personality traits for representing themselves as energetic. While number 5 is a working principle, if the effort is too far outside one's comfort zone – this may just be one place where the leaders are separated from the followers. Someone who practices the first 4 principles will likely be an very effective worker if not leader.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Laurinda Laurinda

    As an introvert, I have learned to have balance. I can flip the switch and be 'On' for the job. But I need my down time. If I don't get it, I'm miserable and so is the team. I schedule my 'do nothing and alone' time and don't allow my schedule to steal this time.

    When I feel like I can't fit all of above I do an inventory of where I spend my time. The first place I look is how much TV am I watching. Most of the time, I'm watching too much TV and need to adjust accordingly.

  • http://twitter.com/obihaive @obihaive

    I've found caffine and Red Bull to be good motivators. If you can't bring the energy naturally…use drugs.

    Just kidding! I think the areas where I struggle most are eating right and exercising. At the moment I exercise but I'm starting to see how a bad diet can affect my energy level as well….Great post!

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  • http://intensedebate.com/people/PaulSteinbrueck PaulSteinbrueck

    Mike, this is great advice. A leaders energy level is very important. I'm learning that first hand as for the last 5 weeks since I had knee surgery I've only been able to sleep 4-5 hrs a night. It's been a real struggle.

    One other thought… I think we need to be careful with #5. It's important to choose to be energetic, but that energy has to come from our core beliefs and has to be coupled with realism and authenticity otherwise we can come off as disconnected of phony.

    My current circumstances and your post inspired me to expand on that thought in a post I titled… Digging Deep: Leading When You Have No Energy -http://bit.ly/dy2mSo

    • Dennis Worden

      How often for those of us Dale Carnegie Leadership Training grads do we repeat in our minds, "Act enthusiastic and you will be enthusiastic." Number 5 is a big one the defeats to many.
      I would add to your five ways of increasing energy one I've found to be most important for me and that's quite time in the morning reading The Word, My Utmost for His Highest, and prayer then at the end of the day a quite time of reflection, thanksgiving, and any final attitude adjustments before turning out the lights and going into another day as a leader with energy. As always Mike, good stuff, thanks!

      • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

        Dennis, I agree. I always start with time in the Word.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      Yep, I agree, Paul. It can't be phony. I just wanted to make the point that we don't have to wait until we feel energetic to be energetic.

  • Aaron

    Michael, good post as usual and very movitating. Just curious, is there a reason you chose that picture for this post? It's a strange picture to use…do we really want to be staring up at some guy's nether region?

    • Elizabeth

      I have to say, I wondered the same thing about the pic. Also–here's a follow-up question for you. I know someone who has a ton of energy and drive, but none of the leaders at his organization share this passion. How does a person function when he/she is the only one with any energy–and the people at the top are the apathetic ones?

      • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

        Personally, I couldn't last in that kind of environment. I don't have any advice, other than to look for something that has more compatibility for your own energy level.

        This morning, I had to renew my driver’s license. I went to the county office to do so. As you might expect, it was a complete bureaucracy, devoid of energy. I thought, if I were working there I would either have to give people some goal for customer service that would energize the team—or quit. I could not last in such a low-energy world.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      I just thought it was visually interesting. I thought jumping conveyed energy. What you mentioned never crossed my mind.

  • Ani

    I'm not a leader but I did train and encourage my colleagues because our manager wasn't. They did need him but he wasn't there for them. It was pulling them down. Not a good manager.

    Even I'm not a leader I still think these points work for all area. I totally agree on all the points. My own brother is a negative, always complaining person. I couldn't stay at his house for more than 30 minutes. For my own protection (not only for his behaviour, lots of other things have happened) I took distance from him. Can't have him around me. At the end I'm empty after he's been around. Most difficult decision. But for my own it was necessary. Thanks for sharing.

  • http://progressforge.com/ Mark Mathson

    Indispensable advice Michael. The energy level effect can be drawn in analogy to a contrail visible after aircraft. The smaller the engine the smaller the contrail. The larger the engine the larger the contrail.

  • http://twitter.com/saulnier @saulnier

    All good things but what if the "negative people" are on the team. You can not avoid them. You may not have the ability to replace them? then what? I only bring this up because I am in this spot.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      I think you do the best you can. If it becomes too much and begins to impact you, you make have to make the tough call to get yourself out of the situation.

  • http://intensedebate.com/profiles/michellesayles Michelle Sayles

    Yes! I so agree! I am a very energetic person. I LOVE making people smile and laugh. It just comes natural. Not being arrogant, but I have people always tell me I make them feel young, and they love seeing my smile all the time. It's a compliment. And I'll surely accept it. :D

    Michelle Sayles

  • Patty

    Great information Mike. I need to find out where that group of people hang out at. I think I have been hanging with the wrong crowd too long

  • http://intensedebate.com/profiles/kaikunane ThatGuyKC

    While I'm not in a position of leadership yet it is something I attain to and really appreciate your advice.

    I'm 3 for 5 on your list as I need to eat healthier and get more sleep. The day gets so busy and packed with stuff that I rarely get 5 hours of sleep during the week and my eating habits are best described as impulsive.

    Thanks for the encouragement!

  • http://infocarnivore.com Daniel Snyder

    You can be more energetic by simply acting more energetic. Now that is an excellent thought, it surprises me how true this is. It seems this ‘theory’ applies in other parts of life as well.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      It definitely does. People avoid doing this, because they don't want to be false or phony. But it is a huge secret to change. I always think of it first in the context of marriage. If I act loving, even if I don't feel loving, it's healthy. If I said I feel loving that would be false.

      Feelings often follow the action not the other way around.

  • http://www.withoutwax.tv pete wilson

    Great post Mike. I needed this reminder!!

  • http://fireandhammer.blogspot.com Dennis

    I always thought energy and drive was something people were born with. Because of my background I was emotionally dead: probably a protecting mechanism that helped me survive my mother's alcoholism. Only in the past year have I learned that I can become energectic and cause drive to boil from the inside.

    Thank you for this advice and for the link to your other post. It is good to see change in others and to know I can also change.

  • http://www.fictionformen.com/ Christian D.

    This couldn't have come at a better time. I'm down right…troubled over my job at the moment and I'm probably one of the negative people there. I'd like to think that I'm positive all the time, but when I see no hope at the end of the tunnel…well it's hard for me to be positive.

  • http://www.shrinkingthecamel.com Bradley J. Moore

    Interesting that it's all the same stuff we've heard and read a thousand times. It's common sense, yet we defy the logic by convincing ourselves of this ever-increasing need to perform, produce, rush, crunch, etc. etc. and in the process lose these basics because of all the running around and busyness. I just turned fifty, and realized I feel more like 60 and desperately need to take control of the quality of my life if I want to keep producing for another 20 or 30 years. The company won't fall apart if I come in at 8 instead of 7:00 am. No one will get angry if I choose to say no to that evening invitation. I can take a day off here and there. And the diet? Well, that's a pain in the neck but I am doing it anyways.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      Absolutely. I am in my 50s, too, and I constantly remind myself that I am choosing the quality of life I will be having in my 60s and 70s with the choices I am making now.

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  • http://twitter.com/aleida_jane @aleida_jane

    It's so true,you have to be energetic and have to close yourself for those who are negative.They will drag you down.
    And sport dayley, it's a must.Think positive.

  • Addie

    I am not a born leader, but every now and then I find myself in a situation where I must take the stand and become one. By nature I am very passive,and sometimes it can be difficult for me to be assertive and competitively aggressive. But for the most part, I know my body and I know my limits. Do you have any advice on learning how to be more assertive?

  • http://debomendoorhetbosch.blogspot.com Andre J.C. Bor

    Thanks for this post. It needs to be retweeted :-) Evenso the post about Boosting Your Energy Level.

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  • http://jeffgoins.myadventures.org Jeff Goins

    This is good. I often overlook the importance of it. It’s so easy for me to be snarky and slightly negative. If I find others with this natural tendency, it’s pretty tempting to just be cynical together. I forget that it’s the job of a leader to inspire, to encourage, to spur on. Thanks for the reminder.

  • http://www.forward-living.com W. Mark Thompson

    Truth in this post for sure. It’s important also to be authentic with the energy. Not energy for trying to show you have energy. If someone isn’t naturally energetic, it could be misinterpreted if s/he comes in yelling and trying to be Tony Robins.   Ha!

    I’m trying to take my energy level up a couple of notches by conscious intention… but not over the edge all at once. I’m also doing things to increase my energy (and metabolism) like running and biking. That way I’m getting all the help I can. Hope to see and feel a difference in the near future.

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