“Often, we think our job as a leader is about connecting to a person’s head. In reality, it is about connecting to their heart.”


One of my favorite topics is engagement – both in terms of how we engage ourselves and how we engage our organizations.

One of the resources I was fortunate to run across many years ago was a White Paper by Juice, Inc. that outlined “The 5 Drivers of Engagement.” I have also spent over 20 years working with how we manage our energy centers (Physical, Intellectual, Emotional, Spiritual – P.I.E.S.). What follows is what I’ve learned. I hope it has value for you.

Our energy is our only renewable resource. Our energy is what we bring to our work, our relationships, our lives. If you think about it, how we care for our energy determines how we engage with our life and the quality of our lives.

I often ask people as we begin our coaching sessions, “On a scale of 1 – 10, 10 being the best you can be, where are you right now.” What I’m really asking is for them to evaluate their P.I.E.S and give me an overall number. It is a quick way for them/me to understand where they are. If they tell me that they are below “5” that means that they have more things in their life that are draining them; above “5,” more things in their life that are giving them energy. When they’re on the border (4-6) it may not be clear how they are doing. I often follow-up with, “What is your number normally.” That gives me a clue of what ‘normal’ looks like for them.

I have a member of my family who is particularly good at depleting themself. She is a Type 1 diabetic. She has three children (7, 5, and 3). She has a servant’s heart. Unfortunately, that can mean that she is taking care of everyone else but herself. This is particularly true of her physical and emotional energy.

I asked her that when she depletes herself how do the people around her experience her. She said that with some frequency she must withdraw, and she is not around. There are days that the roles she plays of mother, wife, sister, daughter, workmate, etc. are diminished. I could tell that recognizing this, given her servant nature, was painful for her to recognize.

We spent a little while in silence. She looked at me with tears, “What can I do?” she asked. “It depends on what is most important to you.” I answered. “First, is what you are doing working – meaning, are you getting what you want from the choices you are making?”

When you think about it, that question is a quintessential question of life. It is a question of reflection. That reflection can lead to change, or not. I know in my life growing an awareness of what choices were working, and what things depleted me was a major step forward in my change. If you stop and think right now, what are the things, people, places, ideas that give you energy and those same categories that deplete you, what would be your answer? Do you have more things in your life that give you energy, or more things that deplete you?

Managing your energy well holds the key to the quality of our lives. The energy we bring to our work, to our relationships, to our goals, to our fun. As I stated earlier, you might say that our energy determines how we ‘engage’ with our life.

For our organizations what things foster more engagement? If you want, you could substitute ‘energy’ for engagement. We know that the energy we bring to our work makes a significant difference in our level of satisfaction with our work. It is not surprising, given what we know about our own engagement, that the five drivers of engagement at work involve an emotional connection (our feelings) with each of the drivers.

The key drivers start with how we FIT. Fitting in is an important thing for all of us. Do I fit in my role/responsibility, do I fit in with my team, with the organization? The more my supervisor, team, organization does to help me “fit” the more I will feel welcomed and connected.

How CLEAR we are about what is expected of us in our role, with the team, production from the job (us), the more secure we will be in doing the job. Clarity is about communication. Do I know what the bigger picture is, do I get timely information and feedback from my supervisor, do I know what leadership’s direction, objectives, and strategy are?

Being SUPPORTED is one of the most important of the five drivers. Do I feel like I have all the tools and training to do an excellent job; that I am compensated fairly for the requirements of the job; my supervisor is supportive of me and gives me the freedom and authority to do my job? Am I given opportunities that support my longer-term growth?

Do I feel VALUED? It’s one thing to be part of a group that is recognized (“We had a good month. “Nice job team.”). It is another to be individually recognized for our contribution (“Joelle, you did a nice job with our largest client. You are a valued member of this team”). Personal value is often cited as the most important driver. It recognizes individual contribution. I am listened to and understood.

The fifth driver is about MEANINGFUL WORK that inspires me. I feel connected to what I do and the purpose of the organization. There is a lot of accountability present with my colleagues and leaders.

Fit, clarity, support, value, and work that inspires me aren’t ‘over the top’ ideas. They do represent, however, the parts that when we connect emotionally to each one, drive our engagement. It releases energy. The people who are engaged/energized with their work and workmates are the people that give their discretionary effort (e.g., it’s 5:00, but I’m not done. I am this close; I am going to stick around and finish.). Try this as a simple evaluation. For each of the drivers attach a number from 1 – 5 for where you are experiencing your work/job. Five represents, “couldn’t be better.” Attach your number for each driver. What do you see? Are there areas that are 4 or 5? Are there areas that are three and below? As leaders, perform the same evaluation for how you help people fit, be clear, support, express value for a person, and help people connect to the inspiring parts of their work? How do you think your organization is doing with each driver? Where are the opportunities to do better?

As you might imagine, organizations with many of their people engaged have higher performance and are more profitable. Where do you see opportunity in your life for better management of your energy? Where do you see opportunity for your organization to be more engaged?

Toward a better you…