"Coal, oil and gas are called fossil fuels, because they are mostly made of the fossil remains of beings from long ago. The chemical energy within them is a kind of stored sunlight originally accumulated by ancient plants.
Our civilization runs by burning the remains of humble creatures who inhabited the Earth hundreds of millions of years before the first humans came on the scene.
Like some ghastly cannibal cult, we subsist on the dead bodies of our ancestors and distant relatives."
― Carl Sagan, Billions & Billions: Thoughts on Life and Death at the Brink of the Millennium
For the past two centuries homo sapiens has multiplied like rabbits from a population of but one sustainable billion to a planet shaking eight billion.
And all this has been possible for one reason, and one reason only.
The discovery and burning of fossil fuels.
Every single component of our current civilisation can be traced back to the potential energy stored for millions of years and our ability to convert it into kinetic energy, or energy in action.
And it is the conversion of this ancient energy source that drives the success or failure of all our organisations today.
We know now from experience that every organisation evolves an equilibrium energy level. High energy organisations are more innovative, adaptable and profitable than low energy organisations.
In addition this energy can be both measured and generated.
Three decades of experience working with organisational systems has shown us:
There is a great deal written about leadership on a daily basis. It has become such a generalised holdall that one could say that if we combine all the nonsense language on the subject, it may look something like this.
"Leadership is any action undertaken by any mammal that is currently breathing oxygen."
Let's see if we can keep things really simple.
If leadership in the real world is about action, then we can say that energy is the primary source of all leadership action. (Of course in the imaginary world we can define leadership in any way we choose.)
More concisely we can say - Leadership is energy.
Further we can then say that every leadership idea, concept or competence can only see the light of day through the availability and conversion of leadership potential energy into kinetic energy.
Thus leadership potential energy is the primary determinant of all future kinetic organisational performance. Where high energy leadership will be more successful than low energy leadership.
Universal energy is invisible. This makes it difficult to define and measure.
For example we can say that a gallon of fuel has a certain potential energy that can be converted into kinetic energy when fed into an internal combustion engine.
Thus to measure energy we focus on a specific application and measure it by its impact when we convert it into something practical and useful - and then define appropriate units of energy - joules for example.
Another way of looking at energy is to think of it as a force - a product of mass x acceleration.
We can translate this into leadership energy (a force) being a product of intelligence (mass) and action per unit of time (acceleration).
We further define leadership energy into three categories to make things visible and practical. These are: Personal energy, Interpersonal energy and Impact energy.
Personal energy is the sum of your life experience - nature and nurture - and includes factors such as your knowledge, skill and experience, character, values and beliefs, your proclivities and your overall energy or vitality.
In any given moment your personal energy is effectively your current potential energy, which you may or may not choose to convert into kinetic energy.
Interpersonal energy is your ability to interact with others, including inspiring and motivating others, building trust and developing others.
Impact energy reflects your decisions and actions in the real world. At a personal level this could include success on the sports field, in a music competition, as a writer or as a parent. In the work environment this may be measured by meeting a sales target, generating profits, or generally delivering the right quality of product or service on time.
Based on the three energy categories defined above it is clear that at a practical level we can train and develop higher levels of energy in all three categories.
We have developed very specific techniques based on the application of carefully customised new actions that comply with the science of emergence and cultural evolution.
It is important to remember that human systems are complex and non linear so a change in one area will have a knock on effect in many other areas in the system.
Here is a simple example which we have coached many times.
A leader decides to become physically healthier. Amongst other steps this may include a gym programme that includes three visits to the gym per week. Six months later the individual has lost weight, is physically fitter and less stressed.
Most important is the potential second order impact. With a leader now with greater vitality and lower stress levels, the relationship with other employees and customers will also change - most likely in a positive direction.
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