Leader Energy and Confidence Ring Alarm Bells. Part 2 “Energy”

energize employees

Energy matters – it’s the ability to do work – it has a DIRECT LINE to performance.

Rather than measuring and focusing on things that may, sometime in the future, affect energy and then performance, start with the real stuff — energy.

The March / April, 2014 Leadership Pulse focused on three areas, energy, leadership confidence, and direction. A total of 540 people responded to the Leadership Pulse. There have been over 5,000 respondents since May of 2011 and 9,500 different individuals who have participated since the inception of the Leadership Pulse in 2003.


Energy is measured by asking two numbers; it’s all about the way employees convert potential to moving energy. Based on large studies at the organization level, we learned that energy is a key differentiator of long-term performance. Energy predicts outcomes such as survival and stock price growth when other metrics do not. The measurement of energy at work was derived from this larger-scale research.

We learned early on that energy fluctuates; therefore, making energy measurement simple to do and then creating results that are easy to understand were both key for helping managers take action with the data. Participants are asked (1) to rate their energy level at work today and also (2) to rate the level at which they are at their best. The difference between these two numbers, or gap, predicts performance, and variance over time also is predictive.

Energy is an optimization construct. Therefore, if one is in a situation with too much stimulus, energy can be raised to a dangerously high level. Thus, optimizing energy so it is near where one is at his/her best is the ideal energy level.

Below is the energy measure used in the March/April leadership pulse:

The average energy on the 0 to 10 scale for the entire leadership sample was 7.00. Figure 1, below, shows that the overall average energy of leaders is holding steady since reaching an alltime high of 7.01 in September 2013. Leader Energy reached a low of 6.18 in September 2010, but then rose consistently for 3 years. Remaining at this high energy level might be seen as positive; however, knowing that energy is about optimization, the trend data only tell part of the story.

Table 1 below shows changes in energy by industry from the September 2013 Leadership Pulse. There were several industries with energy changes over 1 point. In all these changes except for mining, the change had a positive effect on the energy gap for that industry.

Energy is up but not necessarily good for business

While tracking the average energy for leaders is a good starting point, it is also important to know how the working energy (energy today) compares to optimal energy (or energy level where they are at their best). The energy gap is used for this assessment; it is calculated by the following equation:


Data Driven Leadership Learning!


(Energy today – Energy at your best) = Energy Gap

Aggregating the gap scores, one can visually plot the risk for a given team or company. In figure 2, below, the risk levels for the entire leadership pulse population are described. Our research indicates that a gap of one point indicates high risk of lower performance (note that the gap can be positive or negative so this graph includes the absolute value of the gap).

While 26.5% of respondents are at their best energy or within half a point or less from their best energy, 52.2% of respondents were more than a full point from their best energy. This 52.2% is defined as “team energy risk”, and it is the percentage of individuals who are at risk of poor performance due to factors causing them not to work at their best energy.

Team Energy Risk Change

While the average energy was essentially unchanged from September of 2013, the Team Energy Risk did have a slight drop of 1.4% from 53.6% in September 2013 to 52.2% in April 2014.

Author: Dr. Theresa M. Welbourne

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