Just as light or radiant energy is multidimensional (possessing quantity, quality, focus and intensity), so also is human energy. The quantity of human energy refers to the volume of energy one has available to invest in the mission. This energy is made available through the physical body.
The quality of human energy follows the physiology of emotion. Survival-based emotions such as fear and anger have a vastly different performance consequence than opportunity-based emotions such as hope, confidence and the sense of adventure or challenge. These are referred to as positive emotions. The highest-quality energy comes from opportunity-based positive emotions.
Like light energy, human energy can be focused or unfocused. When human energy is mentally focused like a laser on what really matters, much strategic work can be accomplished.
The force of human energy is a function of drive. Energy grows in intensity and force as work fulfills important needs and is aligned with deeply felt values and beliefs. This aspect of energy manifests itself when workers display passion, determination, character and commitment. Great force of energy is often necessary to overcome the challenges employees encounter on almost a daily basis.
A critical consideration in accomplishing any difficult organizational mission is the quantity, quality, focus and force of energy that can be recruited to drive the targeted work.
The question of why energy management has received so little attention by business leaders is an interesting one. Once stakeholders acknowledge that a limited resource is highly valuable to the success of the business, every effort is made to manage it. Time is a good example. Time is clearly a valuable limited resource in business. Various technologies are utilized to help manage time more effectively. It’s interesting to consider, however, that time has real value only when it intersects with energy. It’s not the amount of time spent that matters most, but rather the energy you bring to the time that you have. Time management can, in fact, undermine human performance when it does not serve skillful energy management. Employees who schedule one demanding task after another without regard to energy renewal are good examples.
So what does energy management mean to chief learning officers? In addition to technology literacy, business acumen, emotional intelligence, strategic agility and political savvy, CLOs must become human energy experts. They must understand how energy is produced, how it is harnessed and focused and how it is restored, both individually and organizationally. The journey into energy management competence begins with oneself and extends to all learning initiatives that drive strategic outcomes.
Energy management principles provide CLOs with fresh insights into performance issues in much the same way they do for professional coaches in sport. Issues of motivation, drive, fitness, health, concentration, confidence and learner attitude are all grounded in energy. Decisions about classroom versus online learning solutions, timing of learning episodes, length of learning segments, etc. have energy consequences that clearly affect performance.
Human energy is a limited resource, and as chief learning officers, we have to constantly make tough energy investment choices. Energy is the sine qua non of business, and skillful energy management ensures this priceless human resource is properly protected and invested.
Jim Loehr and Jack Groppel are co-founders of LGE Performance Systems. Both are pioneers in the field of performance science and have coached thousands of people in business, law enforcement, health care, education and sport. E-mail Jim and Jack at firstname.lastname@example.org.