Look for leaders with positive energy

  • Mary Lynn Fayoumi

    Mary Lynn Fayoumi

Updated 5/5/2022 11:31 AM

It's spring in Chicagoland, meaning mostly cloudy with sporadic, cold rain. People are sporting parkas and boots while anxiously awaiting the return to T-shirts and sandals. And although most of the world has opened back up again and many people have resumed pre-pandemic activities, there is still a prevailing uncertainty about what the future might hold.

Workplaces are trying to adjust to their modified versions of normal and avoid the negative impacts of the Great Resignation. Leaders are working harder than ever to stay competitive, engage their teams, and nurture their cultures. If you're wondering which leaders are likely to be most successful, a recent Harvard Business Review (HBR) study shines a light on the answer.


One might guess that leaders who possess charisma, influence, power, good looks, or creativity are the most successful. However, substantial research on this subject over the past two decades reveals that there is an even more important predictor of leadership and organizational success: Positive Relational Energy.

If you're wondering what a positive energizer is like, think of someone who is authentic, compassionate, kind, generous, and grateful. This person isn't faking their enthusiasm, but showing and sharing it in a natural, honest, caring way. Leaders who have this quality build and nurture strong teams and networks, lift people up in meaningful ways, and drive extraordinary performance. Organizations who employ positive energizers reap the benefits of lower turnover and improved morale.

Think about the well-documented fact that most people join an organization but leave a manager. If the leaders in your organization are de-energizing by acting in ways that fail to encourage, inspire, and connect, it's easy to see how performance could be impacted and people could choose to look for greener pastures.

Hiring and retaining leaders with positive relational energy pays a plethora of valuable dividends. Not only do they perform better than their peers, but they boost the performance of those who work with, around, and for them. People gravitate to positive energizers.

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Don't forget that birds of a feather do flock together. Those who have witnessed the value of positive relational energy and believe it is a real workplace differentiator know that its power can be expanded exponentially if others in an organization possess it too.

If people are the true source of competitive advantage, then having leaders who naturally spread positive energy will help give you a leg up on the competition.

• Mary Lynn Fayoumi is president & CEO of HR Source.

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