Karin’s Leadership Articles

10 Ways To Zap Energy And Squash Enthusiasm

by | Jun 25, 2013 | By Karin Hurt, Employee Engagement & Energy |

Bad leaders suck life-force from their teams. They don’t mean to. And yet, contagious yawns permeate the workplace. Low energy abounds. Why?

I’ve been asking this question everywhere this week (my organization, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter). Here’s the top 10. I’ll leave it to you for #11.

10 Energy Zappers

  1. Blurry vision – Working frantically without a clear purpose is dumb. With pressure, dumb morphs into exhausting. Leaders must clearly communicate the vision and engage the team.
  2. Lack of connection – If everyone around you is gung-ho, and you don’t get it look within. It’s not them, it’s you. That’s great data. If you have one person on your team who you just can get there perhaps it’s time for a tough conversation. Learn what they really want to do.
  3. Missing information – Without information we make stuff up; make-believe is always worse than the truth. Filling in blanks is exhausting.
  4. Inauthenticity – Folks want the truth about the dynamics and safety of their organization, the market forces and challenges, competitive moves and yes, where they stand. Not knowing dims life-force.
  5. Feeling stuck – Lack of career growth or forward progress. Help your team grow.
  6. Personal ick – One follower wrote,
    “What gets me down or out of my regular mode of existence cold weather and not having a lover.”
    Honest feedback. We’ve all got our stuff. Leaders must lead humans, even in the winter. He added:
    “Nothing or no one can demotivate me. I’m the ony person who can motivate myself.”
    Yes! Tap into, and encourage, the personal elements in your leadership. Your team may need a listening ear and an understanding heart more than a pep rally.
  7. Too many priorities – Overwhelmed confuses energy. Refine focus to streamline energy.
  8. Unattended conflict – Healthy conflict energizes. Buried conflict exhausts.
  9. Boring – Monotony leads to sleepy.Mix it up. Create challenges. Find fun in repetitive tasks.
  10. Festering negativity – Even one whiner makes people crazy. Take Mr. Negative aside and get underneath. When others complain to you encourage straight talk. Don’t underestimate the impact of a loud negative minority.

*Photo by Larry Kohlenstein

Karin Hurt

Karin Hurt helps human-centered leaders resolve workplace ambiguity and chaos, so that they can drive innovation, productivity and revenue without burning out employees. She’s the founder and CEO of Let’s Grow Leaders, an international leadership development and training firm known for practical tools and leadership development programs that stick. She’s the award-winning author of four books including Courageous Cultures: How to Build Teams of Micro-Innovators, Problem Solvers, and Customer Advocates and Winning Well: A Manager’s Guide to Getting Results-Without Losing Your Soul and a hosts the popular Asking For a Friend Vlog on LinkedIn. A former Verizon Wireless executive, Karin was named to Inc. Magazine’s list of great leadership speakers. Karin and her husband and business partner, David Dye, are committed to their philanthropic initiative, Winning Wells – building clean water wells for the people of Cambodia.


  1. Kylie Dunn

    Great list – all very relevant.

    My number 11 – Politics – when you don’t stop those staff who have their own agendas and set about manipulating everyone else in the workplace to push them. There is nothing more draining that having to work out what people are really up to and how to deal with it.

    That and passive-aggression 🙂

    • letsgrowleaders

      Kylie, Politics is my personal favorite too. A real energy and time waster. So glad to see you involved with the LGL community.

  2. Steve Borek

    For me, numbas 4 and 6 shine brighter than the others.

    You’ve got to be authentic. The team knows if you’re being true to yourself. Unless of course you’re a masterful actor.

    Personal stuff. We all have it.

    I spoke to a prospective client yesterday. It was clear, one of the leaders was carrying something from their personal life to the work environment.

    • letsgrowleaders

      Sreve, the most powerful thing an outside mentor ever said to me (a long time ago) was, “your boss is broken.” Strong statement for sure. Of course, nothing is that black and white. And yet, somehow that liberated me to realize the yelling and weird expectations were not about me. Personal stuff. We all have it. Somehow I needed to hear that at the time. Not sure if that was my stuff or hers 😉 Glad someone was there. The story worked out well for both of us.

  3. Dave Tumbarello

    I come from a teaching background — well, technology as well — but the most fundamental thing a teacher needs to manage is called classroom management. This is everything from environment (heat, cold, lighting, noise, distraction, etc.) to seating arrangement, to knowing individual students, to arranging the space in order to maximize … opportunity for desired outcome. I was going to write maximize success, but academic success is not always the goal. But regarding your post, I feel that one of the biggest energy zapper is not paying attention to environmental factors. I’ll hold off on writing my book on this topic, but needless-to-say, what is good for the classroom is good for the corporate enterprises.

    • letsgrowleaders

      Dave, sounds like a good book. My husband spent 10 years in teaching… and now moved to firefighting. I get it.

  4. Lily Kreitinger

    Great list, Karin! I thought of negative communication, whether is self-talk or directed at others. You can deflate yourself pretty quickly by buying into “Who am I to do (X)?” or telling someone 10 ways their idea is bound to fail.

  5. Exhausted Executive Assistant

    11. No feedback all year, then being slammed by my supervisor in my year-end review, for items that could have been addressed immediately. Most aren’t performance related, but mis-communication on one side or the other.

    12. Not knowing my supervisors goals so I can help him/her achieve them.

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