Fully Charged: A book review by Bob Morris

Fully Charged: How Great Leaders Boost Their Organization’s Energy and Ignite High Performance
Heike Bruch and Bernd Vogel
Harvard Business Review Press (2011)

The power and impact of “organizational energy”

As I began to read this brilliant book, I was reminded of how much of value that Tony Schwartz has to say (in The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working) about the importance of establishing and then nourishing an environment within which people can renew their energy. Achieving that worthy objective requires precisely the same leadership that Heike Bruch and Bern Vogel describe, those who can “boost their organization’s energy and ignite high performance.” In fact, my own opinion is that such leaders are themselves the single most important source of that energy.

Throughout their lively and eloquent narrative, Bruch and Vogel respond to questions such as these:

What are the components of organizational energy (OE)?
How to measure – accurately and consistently level of OE in one’s organization?

Note: Bruch and Vogel recommend a seven-step process on Page 59.

How to increase positive OE with energy-efficiency?
How to eliminate or at least reduce negative OE?
What are the key leadership tasks?
How best to prepare people to complete those tasks?
What is the “acceleration trap” and how best to prevent or escape it?

Note: Check out the summary of steps to prevent a Culture of Acceleration on Page 157.

How to craft and then execute a strategy to instill a proactive sense of urgency re OE?

These are among the questions to which Bruch and Vogel. As these questions correctly suggest, they are convinced (and I wholly agree with them) that one of a leader’s most important responsibilities is to generate, nourish, and then “orchestrate” OE.  The nature and extent of effective leadership in any organization (whatever its size and nature may be) will be determined almost entirely by the nature and extent of its emotional, cognitive, and behavioral energy.

Readers will appreciate the provision of Organizational Energy Questionnaire 12 (OEQ  12), a self-assessment of an organization’s energy (or a division’s, unit’s, or team’s energy) in the Appendix. The “OEQ 12” resembles the Gallup Organization’s “Q12®” (to help measure employee engagement) at least to the extent that (a) both are based on an abundance of research data and (b) both help suggest areas of organizational strength or weakness on which leaders should focus.

If your organization needs to become more energy-efficient, this is a “must read.” If you think your organization has no such need, I suggest that you be come a much more energetic observer of what’s really happening…and not happening.


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