Every size and type of organisation has its own distinct energy, and the type of energy it generates will have a marked impact on its ability to inspire and sustain optimum performance.
How can we use our understanding of the different types of energy to harness the positive forces and ensure that we create the most productive working environment for our business, team or department?
According to Dr Bernd Vogel, Associate Professor of Leadership and Organisational Behaviour at Henley Business School, and Director of the Henley Centre for Leadership, there are four classifications of organisational energy, and by arranging these in a matrix based on the intensity and quality of the energy, we can see clearly how to move towards the ideal scenario.
‘By identifying the existing dominant energy states, leaders can formulate strategies for moving towards a state of productive energy – that is, an energy that is both sustainable and delivers optimum performance,’ says Bernd.
‘Organisations want to work towards productive energy, but it is not always that clear cut. Energy states within the same organisation can shift over time.
‘For example, comfortable energy may be acceptable for short periods, to recharge an organisation’s batteries, for example, after a period of high engagement and effort, such as a reorganisation or large scale innovation.’
How can we change the culture of an organisation, and subsequently shift the energy state towards a more productive one?
According to Bernd, ‘Managers can move their people towards productive energy particularly by developing and sharing where the business is going, and what its purpose is. However, this is a real skill leaders need to take on board.‘
‘The key challenge in moving a group from a state of resigned inertia or comfortable energy state is to mobilise shared engagement, and that can be done by either focusing on exciting opportunities, or by reinforcing the organisation’s aims or values. Alternatively, the same result can be achieved by emphasising the tangible threats and implications of collective failure to change. So you need to either move the team towards their success, or away from their fear.
‘Dealing with corrosive energy is more difficult, and must start with an individual and collective acceptance of responsibility. There cannot be a culture of blame and anger within a productive state, so for example, noticing and acknowledging that a management team has drifted into silo behaviour, lack of collaboration, actively preventing alignment or else can be the first steps to eradicating negative emotional and behavioural dynamics. And more often than not, those steps can be the start of a process to create a clean slate from which clear data-based evidence can then be used to formulate new strategies.’
The organisational energy model is just one of a succinct repertoire of practice-focused models that Bernd and other faculty use during the Henley MA Leadership programme, aimed at managers and leaders with significant leadership responsibilities.
Find out more about the MA Leadership programme