Challenging as it can sometimes be, I know that I serve not only as CEO of our company, but also as our Chief Energy Officer™. For better and for worse, that’s the case for any leader.
The most fundamental challenge for leaders is to mobilize, focus, inspire and sustain the energy of those they lead. That begins with walking the talk, by serving as role models of skillful energy management.
The second core challenge for leaders is to empower their people to grow, develop and evolve. In a review of more than two hundred leadership studies, only one quality among leaders turned out to have a consistently positive impact on employees: the capacity to see in them potential they hadn’t yet fully recognized in themselves.
The third challenge for leaders today is to become bigger human beings.
Decades ago, the anthropologist Lionel Tiger found that members of a baboon troop typically look at their alpha male once every 20 to 30 seconds. It’s an instinctive way of checking out how the boss is doing, because that determines how safe or endangered troop members feel.
I’ve observed this phenomenon countless times, both as a CEO myself, and as someone who works with CEOs and their teams. The impact is most evident when the boss is feeling negative emotions.
I think immediately of a CEO I worked with who was known for having to be “the smartest guy in the room” in any given discussion. He was brilliant and admired, but on numerous occasions, I watched members of his team literally shrink back when he peremptorily delivered a conclusion. I was saddened, but not entirely surprised several years later, when his board of directors fired him after he made a series of harsh and intemperate comments about a competitor.