Bob Schultek
Author of
The Gauntlet

When I served as a leader, it was the more challenging times that reminded me how vital were the contributions of our people in sustaining the business. It was evident after 9-11 when our business slowed dramatically and Steve volunteered to remain on site after hours to support a customer in crisis several times zones away. Or, while serving with a different organization, I discovered that Marilyn had invested her own time, after already working a ten-hour shift, to help improve our shipping process so we could dig out after an emergency production shutdown. 

These may have been exceptional employees who were committed to our purpose and goals, but when they invested discretionary effort and energy without being asked, it validated for me that people make the difference for a business more than any other factor. Your business likely has people like this; their contributions should be apparent during these last days of isolation. How are they being appreciated? 

Each person in your organization is a source of energy, with an exclusive set of gifts to contribute, and the potential to leverage their unique perspective, insight, and experience so that your goods or services may be converted into strategic value for the customer. This energy is focused like a laser when people share commitment to a common purpose and objective, transforming their individual energy into a force that drives production and value creation. 

Unlike other forms of energy, the energy people can contribute is infinitely renewable. Over time, individuals have consistently demonstrated that their capacity to contribute energy does not fully deplete and can quickly be recharged. In fact, a person’s ability to contribute energy can actually expand, increasing their capacity by drawing on a nearly inexhaustible reserve of potential energy and creativity. 

As their leader, you create the conditions necessary for your employees to access their deep well of energy. By providing opportunities to contribute beyond their functional duties, or chances to learn and master new skills, you enable your people to expand their knowledge and their capability so they may access and invest energy that contributes to the success of your business. People as an energy source are infinitely expandable, and can learn to efficiently apply their energy to add a skill or to do something better; when we learn, we have more energy to contribute. 

As your business emerges from isolation, now is the time to consider how best to focus the energy of your people. How critical is it for your people, and for the preservation of your company’s culture, to be together again as a community? More than ever before, your people are your most sustainable competitive advantage. They generate the energy that helps your business make a difference. How can you boost this energy? 

What have you learned about your business from 
the recent isolation experience?

How might this knowledge be used to focus the contributions 
of your people on improving results?