Relational Intelligence: Energy Carriers

Have you ever wondered how certain leaders whom you admire are able to lead with such force of presence and clarity? Have you ever noticed how that co-worker of yours relates to others in such a way that she virtually alters people’s moods? Have you ever been curious as to how that friend of yours can single-handedly change the vibe of a room? Have you ever envied how easy these people make it look, yet how they do it still remains a mystery to you?

Although it may seem elusive as to how people set the tone, it comes down to one thing: energy.

There are two kinds of people in the world: those who are able to read the tone and those who are able to set the tone. It’s the difference between being a thermometer that measures the temperature and being a thermostat that sets the temperature.

A relational genius makes the shift from being a tone reader to a tone setter.

Have you ever wondered how certain leaders whom you admire are able to lead with such force of presence and clarity? Have you ever noticed how that co-worker of yours relates to others in such a way that she virtually alters people’s moods? Have you ever been curious as to how that friend of yours can single-handedly change the vibe of a room? Have you ever envied how easy these people make it look, yet how they do it still remains a mystery to you?

Although it may seem elusive as to how people set the tone, it comes down to one thing: energy.

We all have the capacity to be tone setters because we are all carriers of energy. Energy carriers bear an intangible yet potent source of power that originates from within them. What they choose to do with their internal energy determines how they affect their outer world of relationships. In essence, they can use their inner energy to affect the outer energy—meaning, the tone of an environment, the vibe of a room, the mood of people and the overall feel of a setting.

Energy carriers know how to identify and harness their internal power to affect outer change. They do this in order to set the tone, not only in their relational sphere but also in leadership contexts. One single person affects a large number of people because they’ve learned to use the power on the inside to affect their potential impact on the outside. Becoming an energy carrier is a choice that every leader must make and a skill they can develop–it’s something that can be improved on and as a result will elevate a leader’s impact.

In the presence of the best energy carriers, the tone of a room changes. They embody this in team settings, in large group environments, at staff meetings, and in other leadership or relational settings. When they’re absent, people sense the energy that’s missing. However, when they’re present, the mood of the environment comes alive. This capacity originates from the choice that leaders make to use their inner energy to enhance their external context.

To become a relationally intelligent leader who has the ability to affect the tone of an entire room, it’s essential to begin developing specific skills to carrier energy well.

To start with, we must learn how to accurately assess the tone of a given context.

And second, we must learn how to use relational intelligence to appropriately change the tone among the people we work with, serve alongside and team with—this includes the audiences we speak to, the movements we’re trying to create and even individual conversations.

If we’re unable to do this, we will become victims of our setting rather than changers of our setting.

As leaders, there’s almost always an opportunity to change our environment for the better, but this is a challenge that’s often overlooked, or even discounted.

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Assessing the tone begins by developing the discipline of noticing. This discipline involves paying attention to non-verbal and “invisible” relational dynamics. In other words, what are people saying with their body language and what they’re saying indirectly with their words. Many leaders are either oblivious to these dynamics or don’t give them enough credit in the communication process.

Changing the tone involves the way we choose to dialogue. When we remain fully engaged in a moment and attuned to the dynamics in a room, we can better use the skill of guiding and redirecting conversations in ways that both serve others and spark the energy in the moment. Igniting energy can happen through things like steering dialogue with intentional questions, speaking up about something that may be controversial, or stepping into the tension or emotion that exists in a moment in order to face that tension honestly and openly.

One of the challenges is that countless times, I’ve seen people attempting to lead a group but fail to do so because the undercurrent of the group’s energy is stronger than their own. Sometimes they can’t even identify the dynamics of a room, and as a result they remain unable to change the environment. To be able to shift the undercurrent of a given situation in a better direction, our leadership must have force and strength behind it. Leadership without this component is leadership without influence.

If you have not been able to take your leadership to the next level and wonder what may be missing, how you deal with the intangible but potent power of energy can suggest a solution. Our energy, or lack thereof, affects our catalytic efforts, our ability to set transformation into motion, our strength of presence, our capacity to engage with our surroundings and even our reputation among those we’re trying to lead. If we want to become better energy carriers, and if we want to be able to harness the potent power within us, we must learn to harness our internal energy and use it to affect the outer energy around us.

Excerpt from Relational Intelligence. Copyright © 2009 by Steve Saccone. Reprinted with permission of the publisher, John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

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