Have you ever felt sluggish and unwilling to do things? We have all gone through it, but for some people, this period lasts very short and the impulse to move on comes immediately. The same happens when we meet failure. We all experience failure, yet some people manage to get up even before others noticed that they felt down. What force is driving them to act? It is our energy.
Quantum physics hints us that our thoughts are energy and that they influence the results of our life. In Chinese we refer to someone’s energy as “Qi”. The “Qi” in turn affects the attitudes and the experiences of the person. This “Qi” or energy is best felt when people are close to each other. Long distance communication helps, but face-to-face communication is even more effective. Of course, “Qi” is best felt if you go to sleep with someone, but we do not need to go that far. In most cases, a general estimate of “Qi” is sufficient to know your counterpart.
I had the experience to feel the “Qi” of leading managers last week at DLDWomen 2014 conference,
which is an invite only conference for leading women around the world. Participants included politicians, business leaders, artists and professors. These women were all successful in their respective fields in a still men dominated world. However, what was surprising was that they did not focus on why we still have more male colleagues, i.e. no complain about the facts, rather on what has driven them to success and how they or other people could repeat it. That has already led me to the first shared characteristic of leading managers:
- Optimism and positive vibe: Leading managers are all success oriented and see their achievements and those of people surrounding them as something worth celebrating. This energy does not decrease with age and in fact is completely independent.
DLD’s Managing director, Stephanie Czerny, who just had her birthday two weeks ago, was completely energetic and directed the conference with extreme cheerfulness. Wearing an eye-catching pink and orange which well represented her mood, she attracted the attention of the audience even when quiet and not saying a sound.
- Future oriented thinking: Leading managers look at what the future should be. They take active part in making “the next” thing, being part of “the next” wave.
For me, it has been extremely captivating to see the new trend in wearables. What if we could in the future all wear a “Twitter” controlled T-Shirt? That is definitely coming. CuteCircuit, for instance, is making such technology part of the fashion industry.
- Situation awareness: Leading managers are aware of what is happening in the world. They are not only focused on their own roles. Take Caroline Seifert as an example; she is Senior Vice President Product Design at Deutsche Telekom and continuosly talks about the user’s experience. She has the same user-centric thinking as Jeff Bezos.
Gabriele Zedelmeyer, Chief Progress Officer at HP, talked about the changes in the world as a whole and even touched issues such as the dangers human activity poses to rain forests.
- Self-reflection: Leading managers self-reflect. They think and check continuously about whether they are satisfied with their own work, whether they still like it. When I heard it during a panel, I thought about Steve Jobs. He did the same thing. Each morning looking at the mirror, he would ask himself, whether he would do what he had plan to do if it were his last day.
- Search for challenge: Linda Kozlowski, Vice President World Operations at Evernote, talked about the need to have challenges. She pursues them actively, as if they were a necessary stimulant for her brain and her life. She likes the uncomfortable.
During the conference, there was also a workshop dedicated to “dealing with the uncomfortable”. Ideas emerged one after another, until the board was full of post-it notes. We gathered the internal and external factors influencing our decisions and encouraged each other to make the jump and go beyond our comfort zone.
These are five common “Qi” traits of leading managers. If we could incorporate these lessons into our own lives, I am sure we could achieve lots more and contribute to a brighter society. In the next occasion, it will probably be us speaking at an international conference and propagating lots of positive “Qi”.
What’s your experience? How is your energy level? What aspect of “Qi” have you observed from people you admire?