Positive Power: The #1 Untapped Resource in Organizations

Do you know the #1 untapped resource in your organization?

Today I’ll answer this question, explain the power of this resource, and share how to immediately start leveraging it in your organization.

While there are many resources inside organizations, this one doesn’t cost money or depend on the size of the organization. It only requires recognition and implementation of a few changes to leverage.

You might be wondering what this resource is, so to start answering that, consider the following questions:

  • Do you know why you leave some meetings feeling drained and uninspired, and other times you come away feeling invigorated and motivated?
  • Do you think it has to do with the meeting topic, your caffeine level, or the difficulty of the situation?

While all these factors and more can affect how you feel, it’s the energy of the peoplein the meeting that matters most. Organizations are comprised of people and each one contributes positive and negative energy. In most organizations, the resource of human energy is largely ignored even though its impact is massive.

Invisible & Influential Impact

No one’s title entitles him or her to spread toxic energy even though it happens every day.

Think about how you feel after reading these two interactions between a manager and employee:

            1. “Sally, where the hell is that report? It was supposed to be on my desk first thing. If you’re not up to the task, I can give it to someone else. We need to be ready with that report ASAP.”

            2. “Sally, I know you have a lot going on and we were meant to have that report ready this morning. Can you give me an update on your progress? I know it’s in good hands with you; you’re really good at these reports. I just need to know how soon it’ll be ready.”

Each conversation generates different energy that ripples throughout the organization physically, mentally, emotionally, and in relationships. The first one is negatively charged and draining. The second is positive and uplifting.

Ah, but you might be thinking, that’s just how some people are—their energy is programmed into their DNA. To some extent, this is true. A person’s energy can have a default setting. However, the good news is that energy levels can be changed—and it’s not that hard to do.

So, how do you identify who is bringing positive and negative energy into your organization?

Energy Assessment

Ask employees to fill out a brief assessment to gauge their energy levels after interacting with colleagues. Rate responses on a scale from very energizing to neutral to very de-energizing. This information will help you build a visual map of positive and negative energizers.

Research shows:

  • Energizers are more engaged, better performers and support others to be more engaged and better performers.
  • De-Energizers can leave co-workers grappling to control emotions and process information that takes a cognitive toll and results in under-performance.

Dealing with De-Energizers

Here are 5 steps to help you deal with de-energizers in your organization.

  1. Do nothing.
    • This is highly inadvisable due to the negative impact on the team or department in which this person is operating.
  2. Have a conversation.
    • Tactfully explain the situation and ask if there’s anything affecting their energy or feelings about work that can be addressed.
  3. Offer support and coaching.
    • Help de-energizers learn new techniques for shifting their energy that will help them and those around them.
  4. Relocate within the organization.
    • This minimizes the reach of their negative energy on co-workers, and likely puts the de-energizer in a position that is a better fit.
  5. Let them go.
    • This is absolutely the last resort after all other options are exhausted; and, if you choose this option, support the person as best you can in helping them to find an alternative.


Reading about de-energizers can be exhausting. Let’s amp up the vibration and end on a positive note.

Cultivate Positive Energy

Here are three ways to cultivate positive energy in the workplace that are backed by research, testing, and real-life application.

  1. Develop high-quality relationships.
    • Positive energy is amplified in a group of like-minded people working together.
  2. Organize events focused on creating positive energy.
    • These events can be tied to relevant company issues and involve different employees presenting their ideas and vision while seeking involvement and input of others.
  3. Encourage the act of giving.
    • Engaging in helping behavior is contagious and helps the recipient and the giver feel good.

Now you know the #1 untapped resource in organizations is human energy. You’re also equipped to deal with de-energizers and know how to cultivate positive energy to help increase engagement, productivity, and performance.

As always, everything I share is backed by research. Today, I drew upon the work of prominent positive leadership researchers from the University of Michigan—Wayne Baker, Kim Cameron, and Jane Dutton—along with their colleagues Rob Cross, Gretchen Spreitzer, Andrew Parker, Christine Porath, Alexandra Gerbasi, Bradley Owens, and Dana McDaniel Sumpter. If you want to read more about the power of energy in organizations, check out their work in Positive Leadership: Strategies for Extraordinary Performance and How to be a Positive Leader: Insights from Leading Thinkers on Positive Organizations.

Plus you can listen to a deeper discussion about positive energy and how to leverage it in your organization by listening to my podcast entitled, The #1 Untapped Resource in Organizations.

Keep your eyes open for next week’s blog where you’ll learn how you can up your positive leadership game. Yes YOU!

Thank you for reading. If you have a question about positive leadership, drop me a note at [email protected] and I’ll answer it in a future blog.

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