It’s painful: While every leader knows their organization will only win when the workforce is energized, few know how to accomplish this. With over 20 years of supporting leaders in major multinational companies, we’ve observed 3 common mistakes – and identified the steps essential to transforming the behaviors within an organization.

Mistake #1: Pretending you can intellectually convince someone to do something they haven’t done before. Behaviors – the type that require bigger and bolder energy – are only activated when the leader taps into emotions. Energizing a workforce is not an intellectual process of “here’s what you need to think.” Success only happens when we shift to an emotional “how do we want to feel?” approach.

Mistake #2: Using an “executive sponsorship” approach, instead of an “executive participation” strategy. Few people have the courage, the stamina nor the skill to elevate their behaviors when the environment around them remains the same. A real and rapid change of behaviors occurs when leadership shifts from saying something is important – to showing it.

Mistake #3: Attempting a change of behaviors by launching a culture initiative. We change our behaviors when we are deeply motivated to accomplish something we’ve identified as a priority in our lives. Building an energizing culture for the sake of developing a culture is a guaranteed way to see your efforts fizzle. When behavioral change is systematically and directly tied to a business initiative (particularly those involving the customer), and which everyone is passionate about, the leader will see the change in behaviors they desire.

When the above mistakes are not understood, too many leaders begin to believe it’s the employees who are to blame for lack of energy. When they understand what’s necessary to activate the hearts of their workforce, however, the vision becomes a reality.

Image courtesy of Ambro at


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