The energy we bring to teams influences the collective energy. As a leader or a coach of a team, what is the emotional weather that will support the work of your team? What energetic presence is required of you?
This presence is not about status or basking in the limelight.
Leadership and coaching presence is a competency – one that actively nurtures relationship by intentionally expanding our energy into the space to include all members of the team.
Those who first encounter me in the virtual world are sometimes surprised by my height when we eventually meet in person.
“But – you’re short!”
The expectation is that I will be much taller, matching the big energy I project on screen – which isn’t always a good thing!
Whether I’m in a virtual or a physical room, I need to adjust the quality and volume of my energy to meet the requirements of the situation and company I meet there, in much the same way that a performing artist might do.
Our minds and bodies unconsciously echo one another. Brain scans demonstrate that we are in synch during constructive conversation, with the delicate interplay of energy shifting from moment to moment.
In her work on Embodied Intelligence, Aikido and mindfulness expert Wendy Palmer notes that between 70 to 90 percent of our communication is non-verbal. Her practice guides us in understanding this subconscious level of communication by tapping into the intuition embedded in the body. Amy Mindell’s concept of Metaskills is another example of how we can perfume our interactions with others through the intention we bring.
Take a moment to think about how you show up in your leadership and coaching. Does your energy engulf and dull or include and inspire? Are you aware of your impact and the influence of your energy on the team?
In some partnerships or teams, the interplay of energy feels easy and natural. In others, it might feel bounded or forced. To guide teams in working together effectively, we must observe how energy shifts and flows between within the group.
Tips for Maintaining Coaching and Leadership Presence
By cultivating an awareness of the signals we receive and adjusting our energy in response, we add another skillset to the coaching and leadership toolkit.
Tip 1 | Draw on the power of roles and metaphor in selecting the energy you want to project.
Your energy can also be influenced by the outer roles we take on – not only that of titled leader, but inner roles such as nurturer, instigator or trickster. Animals are archetypes of energy embodied. Do you choose to bring the bright, light charm of a chickadee? The sleek watchfulness of a lion? The warm and playful acceptance of a friendly puppy?
As you play with the energy you bring, notice the response you receive. What signals suggest a need to switch?
Tip 2 | Consciously direct your energy.
As I lead, I consciously extend my energy out from my body. The channels of seeing, sensing, hearing and feeling are all open to gauge how this energy is being received.
Where is “leadership” energy located in your body?
Are you paying attention to the signals you receive in return?
Can you push the boundaries of your energy out to encompass everyone in the room?
Tip 3 | Meet rather than match.
Like a reflection in water, the mirror you provide does not have to be exact, but can be modulated according to the emotional weather conditions. It is not an exact replica, but a dance between different rhythms and energy levels in the moment.
Remember too that listening is a way to reflect energy.
Tip 4 | Adjust the volume on the energy you project.
Imagine that your energy is controlled by a dial ranging from one to 10. Consider what your natural energy level might be when you are alone, when working in a group, hanging out with friends, or in need of recharging.
You can control the volume depending on whether you want to match the mood or match and then shift the mood of the team.
Tip 5 | Be aware of how your energy responds to conflict.
We are most likely to lose the intentional use of our energy when confronted by an edge – either within ourselves or when the topic within a group becomes hot. This can be challenging in coaching and leading, as we both hold and are part of the system at the same time.
Rather than using our energy to deflect or to resist a perceived attack, extend it outward to actively include the ‘other’ in working through what is emerging together.
At its best, the energetic connection between us takes the form of an infinite loop.
The Dalai Lama is said to possess a quality of radiant compassion, with an energy that draws everyone in and is reflected back in those around him. He compares humanity to an aspen grove. We are individual trees stemming from the same hidden root.
In considering the coaching and leadership presence we project, we consciously use our energy in service of others and the work we do in the world.
As director of Novalda,Kerry Woodcockdevelops core, collective and change leadership capacity in leaders, teams and organizations.