Do you raise people’s energy? Or, zap people’s energy?

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Imagine I ask your coworkers these questions about you [client]:

·      When you interact with [client], how does it affect your energy level?[i]

·      What does [client] do that raises your energy? Zaps your energy?

How do you think people will answer? Are you a “Raiser” or a“Zapper?” How do you affect the energy of those around you? The answer to the first question is highly predictive of job performance. Energy raisers do well and rise quickly in organizations.

Of course, this makes sense. We get more done with people who raise our energy; those with whom we enjoy engaging – who bring us up even if the problem we’re working on is a tough one. We like to be able to disagree with someone, yet walk away feeling respected and energized.

Results of energizing leaders

Research in this area is fascinating. In his book, Practicing Positive Leadership, author Kim Cameron states,

“This study revealed that when individuals are exposed to a positively energizing leader in their workplace, they have significantly higher personal well-being, higher satisfaction with their jobs, higher engagement in their organization, higher job performance, and higher levels of family well-being than those without exposure to positively energizing leaders. Moreover, the organizational unit in which these people work has significantly more cohesion among employees, more orientation toward learning, more expression of experimentation and creativity, and higher levels of performance than units without an energizing leader. [ii]“  

Energizing leaders positively affect people’s lives and organizational results.  

Impact of being energizing

Not only do positive leaders engender better results from others, they are better performers themselves.[iii]  Positive leaders have better relationships, are physically healthier, and are more creative and adaptable than others.[iv]

From research to application

Here’s the insight. We all have behaviors that bring others up and behaviors that bring others down. However, it’s not often that we talk about those behaviors. If we did, we could constructively identify what to do more frequently to raise the energy of others. We could engage those around us to help us be our better, more energizing selves, more often.

So, do you know how you affect the energy of others? How can you be more energizing more often? Or, if you are a coach or HRBP, how can you use this information for the benefit of your client?

Shift Positive 360

Find out how we explore “energy” as part of the Shift Positive 360 to help leaders and coaches create more powerful change together (

[i] Baker, W., Cross, R. & Wooten, M. (2003). Positive organizational network analysis and energizing relationships. In K. Cameron, J. Dutton and R. Quinn’s Positive organizational scholarship: Foundations of a new discipline (pp. 328 – 342). Berrett-Koehler Publishers.

[ii] B. Owens, W. Baker, and K. S. Cameron, “Relational Energy at Work: Establishing Construct, Nomological, and Predictive Validity,” working paper, Center for Positive Organizational Scholarship, 2013, University of Michigan

[iii] For example, see W. Baker, Achieving Success Through Social Capital (San Francisco: Josey-Bass, 2001).

[iv] G. M. Spreitzer, C. F. Lam, and R. W Quinn, “Human Energy in Organizations,” in K. S. Cameron and G. M. Spreitzer, eds., Oxford Handbook of Positive Organizational Scholarship, 155-67 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012).