[January 23, 2018] A new movie is out about the Britain’s PM Winston Churchill and the reviews were mixed. Historical inaccuracies aside, what this movie and other sources tell us, is that Churchill is a revered figure, worldwide for his leadership during World War II. We also know that Churchill had high energy and that is what helped him get things done.
PM Churchill () was also intellectually brilliant, highly focused, courageous, and a great communicator. His energy level is something most people never really see but it is what allowed him to push on where lesser men would have failed. It’s is one thing to be smart and talented but if that person is lazy and indecisive, little will be accomplished.
“Energy and persistence conquer all things.” – Benjamin Franklin, Founding Father of the United States
Where does this high energy come from in a person? Is an individual born with it or is it developed through conscious effort? I don’t know the answer, nor am I sure anyone does. Like good art, we know it when we see it or experience it. Energy in a person is related to physical and emotional stamina (as I demonstrate in Characteristic# 100) but is different because stamina can be made better with effort. I’m not so sure about one’s internal energy levels.
Having high energy helps leaders show that they are interested and that they respect others. They continue to work at getting things done when others quit or give up. It is no surprise that Churchill is known for his “we will never surrender” speech in the House of Commons on June 4, 1940.
Most of us have experience with low-energy leaders. They are typically junior leaders because organizations have processes that weed them out before they attain greater responsibilities and authority. I once had a Company Commander who lacked energy and was content to spend time in his tent. We got very little guidance and he rarely talked to us.
I had a good friend who would write the words “be energetic” at the top of his notes as a reminder that energy fuels the leader. Sometimes, he told me, he felt rundown or tired but he would smile, move about, joke with folks, and do those things that made it appear he was full of energy. Those listening believed he was passionate and knowledgeable about his topic.
The lesson for junior leaders is to work at maintaining high levels of personal energy. That should not be done through drugs or stimulants but by staying in good physical shape, being around other energetic people, and by setting a consistent pace at work. Those leaders will get more done and be respected more by others.
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