Leaders have a responsibility to model the behaviors—including both spoken and body language, tone and mindset—we want to elicit from others.
A few years ago, I switched to a new chiropractor. When I entered the office for my first appointment, the receptionist barely looked up as she unenthusiastically muttered, “Yes?” Her unfriendly greeting had an immediate impact on my mood, and I felt my energy drop. Needless to say, her lack of welcoming attitude and friendliness had an impact on my entire experience at the office.
I’m certain you have experienced this before—the customer service representative who has no business being in a customer service role. First impressions matter, and it only takes a few seconds for someone to pick up on the energy (or lack thereof) of the person across from them or even on the phone. We train our member service representatives to been friendly and knowledgeable to provide the best experience. Yet it still mystifies me how many organizations staffing customer-service roles don’t exclusively hire people who actually like interacting with people.
It is important to staff member service representatives who radiate positive, competent energy, as they are often the first point of contact a member has with a credit union; their interactions can leave a lasting impression, whether good or bad. But there is another important position within an organization where energy matters just as much: leadership.
When you are a leader, you are being watched every day, whether you like it or not. Your employees, your colleagues and perhaps your own manager are all impacted by your actions, your words and your attitude. It may be subconscious, but people are picking up on your energy at work. Do you consistently appear overwhelmed and stressed out? Are you tired or irritated? You are likely transferring that energy to those around you.
When you first walk into the office each day, what kind of tone are you setting? Are you greeting your employees with a warm “good morning”? Your enthusiasm has to be genuine, but many leaders are not purposeful about how they present themselves when they show up at the office each day.
We should always be conscious of the energy we are putting out into the world. This doesn’t mean we can’t have a bad day or that we have to be positive and upbeat all the time. Certain situations may not call for an upbeat or friendly attitude. But it does mean that as leaders, we should be aware that our mindset, posture and language impacts everyone around us. Our employees look to their leaders for cues on how to behave, so we need to be aware that we are sending as much of a message with our energy as we are with our words and actions. As leaders, we have a responsibility to model the behaviors we want to elicit from others.
Your energy can be impactful outside of work, too. I try to be conscious of my energy when I walk in the door at home after work. Although sometimes I arrive home tired and stressed from a long day or a terrible commute, before I go inside, I consciously release that negative energy and put a smile on my face to greet my children. I’ve noticed that when I enter the house with positive energy, they give me positive energy (and behavior) back.
So next time you are entering the office, a meeting, a coaching session or walking around the office, pause and think about the energy you want to spread to others. Your level of positivity and engagement can impact the mindset and engagement of those around you.
Laurie Maddalena, MBA, CPCC, PHR, is a certified executive coach, leadership consultant and founder of Envision Excellence LLC in the Washington, D.C., area. Her mission is to create exceptional cultures by teaching leaders how to be exceptional. Maddalena facilitates management and executive training programs and team-building sessions and speaks at leadership events. Prior to starting her business, she was an HR executive at a $450 million credit union. Contact her at 240.605.7940 or firstname.lastname@example.org.