HAVE ENOUGH LEADERSHIP “E”?”
by Dr. Karen Otazo
Management Today, London, U. K.
“Reason is the
bound, or outward circumference of energy.” William Blake
Working with major multinationals
and companies of all sizes on three continents, I’ve found that a
key factor in executive success that I call the “E” quotient, or
executive energy. Executives who use the right amount of “E”
quotient are many times more effective than those who use too much
or too little. The dimensions of culture, gender, and business
setting, among other things, impact your “E” quotient
effectiveness. At times, executives may need to either increase or
decrease their “E” quotient. Within these settings, executives need
to learn to adapt their “E” to different situations and people they
encounter to maximize their effectiveness.
What’s Your “E”
You have a balanced "E" Quotient if:
Others pay attention to what you are saying without straining.
People want to talk with you, even when they have ideas that are not
Followers walk away from you with intent, ready to implement your
What others may say about you: “inspiring, encouraging, passionate
about your beliefs, challenging with assignments and projects, firm
You have too little “E” Quotient if:
Others interrupt and finish your sentences.
People don’t know where you stand on issues.
When you expect a response, people are silent or move on to
What people may say about
you: “uninspiring, too soft, unable to confront, too detailed, not
“tough” enough, overly accommodating, not results driven….”
You have too much “E” Quotient if:
People argue with what you say when you may simply be stating a
Words just “leap” out even when you did not mean to say them.
Others complain that they can’t get heard when you are in the
What others may say about you: “ emotional, intense, out-of-control,
insensitive, aggressive, arrogant, adversarial, harshly judgmental,
How do you get to
a balanced leadership “E” Quotient — simultaneously tough and caring
and appropriate for the culture, country and business environment?
To shift your own “E” effectively in that direction, you need to
first understand your intent and intensity.
The “E” Quotient
=[Intent x intensity]
Intent depends on the clarity of
your thinking which in turn creates the resolution and will to make
things happen. What you aim to achieve — your purpose — will create
focus and alignment. Strong leaders say that clear intent enables
them to deal with “antibodies,” people who want to protect the
status quo. It takes stamina and “E” to outlast antibodies.
Intent shapes your total
“end game”. What specific business results do you want? What
relationships will emerge? What are the intended consequences of
your direction? The clearer and more planned your intent is the
more likely you, and others, will achieve it.
energy and clarity of your intent help create charismatic
leadership. The best leaders combine understanding of their
employees’ needs with the energy and vision to make things happen.
In my experience with hundreds of
executives, some intensity is vital but too much is a turn off.
Your “E” Quotient Scale below shows intensity of energy on one axis
and effectiveness on the other. Your effectiveness increases with
enough energy intensity and decreases with too much or too little.
Sometimes, those who have trouble
being heard increase energy intensity to get airtime, consciously or
unconsciously. The increased energy intensity creates a “noise”
that obscures what you are trying to say. Consequently, the
audience “hears” that intensity instead of the message.
Depending on the country, the
culture or the audience, there can be a narrow area between the
dotted lines that represents the “E Comfort Zone”. Your followers
and the environment determine the comfort zone, not you.
Your “E” Quotient: Staying in the
E Comfort Zone
Executives who feel they have been
short-changed in their careers may want to look at their “E”
quotient. Those who have too little tend to be ignored by superiors
and staff. Executives at the high end of the “E” scale can turn
off, or “blow away,” the people they most want to engage. Mid-range
“E” helps people connect with your meaning and intent, hence an “E
Quotient Comfort Zone”. Effective “E” Quotient means staying in that
comfortable with varying amounts of “E”. Business and
social/national environments are inherently different enough that
their "E Comfort Zones" shift the dotted lines to different places
on the “E” Quotient Scale. You can also use a different “E” Quotient
for a group than when working one-on-one.
Comfort Zone “E”
When the new CEO walked in the
room, everyone knew he was different from all their previous
leaders. His intense energy crackled as he mapped the current
situation of the company and revealed his vision of the future. His
conviction in their future success, and his belief in the staff’s
ability to make it happen, enthralled them. His vision was so clear
that each could imagine her or his role in it. This leader’s energy
level was contagious; the staff wanted to join him.
galvanized his staff to double their profits in a year. He did all
the right things — created quick wins, cared about staff as
individuals, and reinforced his message around the world. Followers
admired him. Yet some remained wary. In front of a group, his “E”
Quotient was right on. One-on-one, however, his intensity and quick
mind could overwhelm some people. So, with coaching, he worked on
toning down his “E” quotient one-on-one, when necessary.
Balanced “E” with Different Audiences
quotient shifts with the size of your audience; larger audiences
need more intensity in your “E” quotient, smaller ones need less.
audiences expect more “E” in your gestures which should be larger
and more emphatic than with small audiences.
speaking pace with pauses at the end of phrases indicates balanced
America, audiences appreciate more hyperbole, even “evangelism”,
than in Britain or most other countries.
Too little "E"
The leader saw
the handwriting on the wall. It was time to get his company’s core
business into the global marketplace. Margins were eroding and
competitors were siphoning off business. He convened his management
board for a strategy meeting.
At the meeting,
the staff debated the pros and cons of the new strategic direction.
The more his board argued, the more the leader stayed silent. His
failure to take charge and direct things allowed the meeting to
meander. The resultant summary of differing opinions lacked an
action plan to move his business forward. This leader’s behavior
demonstrated too little “E” for the situation. His intent was good,
but his intensity was lacking. He needed to take control.
develop more “E”
with and listen to many people to make sure that they are hearing
your message and that you are heeding their feedback.
down, and refine, your end game before running a meeting.
series of leading questions to create enough “E” to take charge in
and refine the messages that you want your staff, and others, to
hear so that you are always prepared.
Too much "E"
Financial Officer was impatient. When staff talked to him, he would
cut them off in mid-sentence. He would yell across office hallways
demanding to know why reports weren’t finished. At presentations by
staff, he would say “this better be good; your career depends on
it.” If he disagreed or disapproved, he would cross his legs and
his foot would start to shake. People who worked for him dreaded
that shake and would hurry to finish when they saw it.
tone down your “E”
count “Stop-2-3” at the ends of sentences.
before meetings to focus your thinking so your energy doesn’t get
scattered or “over-carbonated”.
that your pace may overwhelm others who need to think through what
you are saying.
others let you know when you become “over-carbonated” on the “E”
The Global Leader
and the “E” Quotient
A British CEO was in New York to
sell his strategic plan to the Wall Street analysts. As he
presented the company’s new direction, he was low-key and
self-effacing. Although the company had just had its best quarter
in five years, what he said was that it was “holding its own.” The
analysts wondered if this past quarter was a fluke and if this CEO
had “the right stuff” to move the company ahead. He just didn’t
seem enthusiastic enough.
The New York executive was in
London addressing his company’s all-British executive board. In
describing their financial outlook in Asia, he stressed that he was
enthusiastic about the company’s future earnings. “Is that an —
American — or British enthusiastic?” the CEO
asked, adding, “please don’t get ‘too American’ on me.”
The Londoner and New Yorker simply
did not have the right energy level, or “E”, for their audience.
Their respective deliveries worked in their own cultures, but
required translation across the Atlantic. Effective global leaders
are constantly aware of their “E” level depending on the
country/culture/audience to whom they are speaking.
To lead effectively in a global
marketplace, you need to locate the “E Comfort Zone” for the
situation. This is a flexible place depending on company and country
cultures, type of meeting and your audience. The key to staying
there is to observe yourself and others and adjust your style and
approach accordingly so you don’t have too much or too little but
just the right amount.