Day 22: Tuesday, April 28, 2020 
Your Energy is Contagious: Leading in a Crisis
featuring Tony Schwartz, The Energy Project

Tony led us on a fascinating journey into the source of our energy levels. He provided some tools and practices to help us better manage our energy, so that we have the capacity to lead our teams with positive, high energy through and beyond this time of crisis.

Here are the key takeaways from the webinar:

Your energy is just as contagious as Covid-19.
As the CEO, you are the Chief Energy Officer of your organization, that is to say, you are responsible for mobilizing, inspiring, and sustaining the energy of those that you lead. And for better or worse, you have a disproportionate impact on the people you lead. If you are to give your team the focus and direction they need to thrive in the age of Covid-19, you must be able to mobilize, inspire, and sustain your own energy first

You can influence how you respond to whatever circumstances arise.
This requires a specific set of resilience skills. Resilience is the capacity to function effectively under intense stress and to recover quickly. In order to be resilient, leaders need the following:

  • Self-Awareness – being connected to how you feel because even when you’re not aware, you are still having an impact on your team.
  • Self-Regulation – having the capacity to rapidly calm your body in the face of anxiety, fear, and anger in order to bring your thinking mind back online.
  • Self-Care – implementing long-term practices that you have put in place to take better care of yourself so you don’t run on empty 

“The greater the stress, the greater the need for renewal.”
In general, people shift in and out of four energy quadrants – Performance, Survival, Overwhelm, and Renewal. As you can guess from their names, the Performance and Renewal zones are where we are at our best. In performance we are upbeat, invigorated, confident; and in Renewal we are tranquil, serene, and peaceful. Each of these zones is essential to our success as leaders and the successful energy we bring to our teams. We need to move rhythmically between the Performance Zone and Renewal Zone; neither one by itself will allow you to perform at the highest level in the most sustainable way. The greater the stress, the greater the need for renewal. This is counterintuitive and countercultural. Under pressure, our instinct is to go harder, longer (e.g. burn the midnight oil, and so on). Culturally, we’ve been socialized to find this approach heroic, but it’s not; it burns down your reserve at a time when you’re already being stretched to your limits. Rather, when under great distress, leaders must identify opportunities for renewal. 

You can manage your energy levels with daily practice and rituals to increase your resilience.
Ideally, we want to find ourselves fluctuating between Performance and Renewal, but this isn’t always possible. When we are under stress, Survival’s job is to raise the alarm; it’s extremely reactive. And when we become Overwhelmed we are thrust into a state of helplessness and depression. The good news is that there are tools you can use to help you either “reset” or “refuel” your energy levels to bring you back into the Performance and Renewal zones. Tony provides some practical approaches to help leaders to do this:

  • Reset Tools  – Practices you can use in the moment to manage your energy leve:
    • Breathe deeply.
    • Feel your feet to ground you.
    • Name your emotion(s).
    • Smile broadly, even if it’s fake.
    • Turn off your digital devices in the evening.
  • Refuel Tools – Rituals you can build into your daily life:
    • Sleep at least 7 to 8 hours a day
    • Do the most important thing first each day.
    • Take a renewal break at least every 90 minutes.
    • Write a note of appreciation.
    • Identify 3 things you feel grateful for.