|We all feel other people’s energy. And other people feel our energy. The type of energy you give off can be the difference between great leadership and poor leadership.
There are two types of energy: catabolic and anabolic. The book ‘Energy Leadership’ by Bruce Schneider, helped me to put behaviors and language to what I had previously just felt.
Think of a person or persons in your life who after having spent time with, you walk away energized, motivated, excited, and encouraged.
It doesn’t matter whether you have been around this person one time or if you are around them consistently. This can be a family member, co-worker, or friend/acquaintance. Once you have that person in mind…
Now think of a person or persons you have been around and walking away you feel drained, tired, and hoping to avoid that person the rest of the day (or year:).
What is the difference?
It’s their energy!
We all have a primary energy level we reside in. Some reside at a catabolic level. Catabolic energy is draining, it tears down, and is destructive. The person at a catabolic level: often plays the victim, can be super combative, tends to dominate conversations, are judgmental, they have an excuse about everything, have a strong opinion about EVERYTHING, and many times it feels like a cognitive fistfight with them.
Others reside at an anabolic level. Anabolic energy builds up, propels, and promotes. The person at the anabolic level: is positive but also realistic, thinks about others, they are resourceful, very curious, is non-judgmental, sees the best in others, and operates in a very peaceful, non-frenzied way.
High & Low Energy
Usually, this discussion centers around high or low energy. The person who has that hair on fire, bounce off the walls energy is praised. The ‘lower’ energy person, who is way more subdued and chill, is encouraged to bring more energy.
The problem is there are people who are ‘high’ energy that drain others, while there are ‘low’ energy people that propel others.
The question is not high or low, the question is drain or propel…tear down or buildup?
I use Tony Dungy and Pete Carroll as examples. I don’t know either of them but through 3rd and 4th parties, I have a picture of their energy.
Both are anabolic energy people. Tony Dungy is way more subdued, chill, and doesn’t have that ‘high’ energy vibe. But his energy still propels, builds up, and promotes.
Pete Carroll is way more outgoing, hair on fire type, and has a ‘high’ energy vibe. He too propels, builds up, and promotes.
So it is not a question of high or low, it is a question of do we drain or do we propel. Lower energy people need not fake this ‘high’ energy vibe. They can be themselves. High energy people can continue to be themselves. Again, the problem is not high or low…it is anabolic or catabolic…promote or tear down.
Give me anabolic people all day!
It isn’t too hard to figure out who we want to be around, who we will follow, and who adds value to our life.
I have yet to meet a high-level leader who consistently resides at the catabolic level. In fact, I think this is one of the primary reasons leaders fail.
They do all the X and O’s right. They talk about what they are supposed to talk about. They do team-building activities, they have player development plans, feedback is given, culture is important to them, they do the ‘right’ things that leaders should do…and yet…
They can never get buy-in. They can never build the right environment for their people to flourish.
Their energy destructs, tears down, and repels. Influence and buy-in happen when people ‘feel’ that certain something. They don’t ‘feel’ that certain something with catabolic leaders.
Below is a visual that fleshes this out a little more. I have broken them into two catabolic levels (victim and combative) and two anabolic levels (caring and peaceful). The highest and most impactful level is level four!
To end, ask yourself, “What type of energy do I live in?”