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Energy and Influence

Energy and Influence
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I’d like to give you another angle to understand power and influence in organizations. Some time ago, my colleagues and I interviewed the president of one of the largest joint ventures in the world, and we asked him about his criteria for hiring people. And he said, I essentially have two primary criteria. One is sound managerial judgment, and the second is energy. And when you dig deeper into this notion of energy, you realize that it goes well beyond just running around and completing projects like an Energizer bunny. It goes much deeper to this idea of being able to energize others around you. Now, think of your colleagues at work.
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I’m pretty sure you will be able to identify those interactions with whom consistently leave you more driven, more motivated, more energized. Interactions with whom, perhaps, have a neutral effect on the energy, or maybe exact opposite effect, where you feel consistently drained of energy after interacting with these individuals. My colleague at Michigan, Ross Wayne Baker, did a lot of interesting research on energy and relationships in workplace. He was among the first scholars to systematically map out energy networks. So, what you are seeing here is a stylized example of an energy network. In this case, Samantha, Katrina, Misek and Roald are all energized by interactions with John. You can see John is a very central person in this network.
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He has a lot of incoming arrows. Another way to think about this is that Sam, Katrina, Roald, and Misek all seek out John for these energizing interactions. Now, this is a stylized example of an energy map, but this is a real energy network from an organization that I started together with some colleagues from Michigan. And you can see here that 13, 17, 20, these individuals are very central in the energy network. They’re highly energizing. A lot of people seek them out for these energizing exchanges. You can say the same thing about 14, 32, 6, and even individual 101. But you can also see that there are others who have a much harder time energizing others such as 306, 4, 308.
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You see that they have very few, if any, incoming arrows. In fact, you can argue that they’re gonna suck this energy from the group, because they have a lot of outgoing arrows. They go to others for energy but they don’t contribute anything back. In general, in organizations, it pays to be an energizer. What research shows is that energizers can enjoy greater levels of influence in organizations because they can illicit higher levels of discretionary effort from others. What I mean by this is that if you have energizing interactions with others, people are much more likely to think about your problem on the way home from work.
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They’re much more likely to place that additional phone call on your behalf, send a few extra emails, talk to someone in their network about your problem, perhaps introduce you to someone from their network. And as a result, you can get more done. You can execute more effectively by engaging others. So tomorrow in your meetings, evaluate the level of energy in the beginning of the meeting, and at the end of the meeting. And see if levels of energy consistently go up or down in your meetings.
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So, if it pays to be an energizing organizations. The natural question is how do you become one? You can start by introducing relationship development into day-to-day interactions, showing genuine concern for others, and connect with people beyond their job roles. In this course, you will hear from Jeff Brodsky, the global head of HR from Morgan Stanley, a premier investment bank. And he’ll tell you that from his perspective, showing genuine concern for others, showing that you care, and connecting with people beyond their jobs is one of the most powerful and effective ways to build relationships with others.
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I have a colleague who, every time we interact, genuinely is interested in my family, asks me questions about my family, but be genuine, be authentic. Don’t make it into a checklist, saying oh, I have to ask him about his daughter, and then I’m gonna ask him about the financial projections. When discussing work, consciously focus on possibilities, not just limitations and constraints. It’s very easy to sit in the back of a room and occasionally ask a smart, critical question. It’s much harder to build something, to develop an idea. So have this developmental mindset on next time you’re in a meeting.
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So if you do ask a critical question, an incisive question, by the way, this critical question by itself can significantly deflate the level of energy in the room.
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Think of how you can help others develop an idea or solve that problem. In meetings, maintain high levels of physical and cognitive engagement, lean in at the table, establish eye contact with the presenter, use open body postures, recall our discussion of non-verbals and influence from the previous week of this course. All these are tactics to maintain high levels of physical engagement. Let me give you an example of you can elevate levels of energy in a room. I was recently with a manager, we have to present after lunch. The room naturally was sagging, attention was wandering and people weren’t really paying attention.
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So, you start it by asking people to stand up and jump up and down a few times. You made a joke about this being the only physical activity for him for the entire day. People were laughing, smiling, and energy was way up and everybody was certainly paying attention.
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