Are you creating a high energy workplace?

“Energy is the fuel that makes great organisations run.....Every interaction with others at work - big or small, short or lengthy – has the potential to create or deplete vital energy.”

This is the claim that Professor Jane Dutton makes in her book, Energise Your Workplace. It’s a bold claim but one that probably resonates with your own experience. We know when our team or organisation is buzzing – things happen, new ideas get generated, problems get solved and people give their discretionary energy. The opposite is also something we have probably experienced – lack of focus, a culture of complaint, problems avoided, unresolved conflict and people putting what energy they have into defending their position.

So if our organisational life really is a series of interactions that have the potential to deplete or create energy, the essential fuel that all great workplaces need, what’s the secret?

Dutton outlines a range of specific strategies that leaders can adopt to create energetic workplaces through what she terms ‘high quality connections’. Three key things constitute these ‘high quality connections’: respectful engagement, task enabling and trusting.

Respectful engagement- is about how to engage others in ways that send messages of value and worth. Dutton outlines 5 major strategies for doing this - being present, being genuine, communicating affirmation, effective listening, supportive communication.

Task enabling- is about ways of interacting that facilitate another person’s successful performance. Here she recommends, teaching, designing, accommodating and nurturing

Trusting – is about acting in ways that convey to others the belief that they will act with integrity, dependability. Trust is built through what you say and don’t say and what you do and don’t do.

It turns out that it is not really a secret at all – leaders with high levels of Emotional Intelligence have been doing these kinds of things that Dutton’s research recommends for a long time. They are also the kinds of things that good coaches bring to their interactions with others.

Good coaching, whether on the run or in more formal and extended contexts, is all about:
Being present, being genuine, being solution focused, being an extraordinary listener, affirming strengths, building capability in others.

The benefits that flow when these ‘coaching’ approaches to our interactions with others are regularly and consistently practiced are significant...

  • Better physical and mental health
  • Greater resilience
  • Higher levels of task engagement
  • Higher levels of learning

And of course all the damage that results from ‘corrosive connections’ are avoided.

So when you are building a coaching approach into your leadership style you can know that it fits the recipe for building a high energy workplace with all the associated benefits!

For more information about how to build a coaching culture check up the revised and updated edition of the Leadership Coaching Guide click here


  • Dutton, Jane, E (2003) Energize your workplace: How to create and sustain high-quality connections at work. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass

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