Since I grew up a short, fat kid, it is needless to say that athletics were not my strong suit. I dreaded nearly every sport (especially those that required me to be on the “skins” team). There was one physical activity, however, that I loved and that was roller skating. Every Friday night I was at the local skating rink, shuffling my chubby body around and around the rink. Although I wasn’t the most graceful, I wasn’t too bad. My favorite part of any skate evening was when the DJ would announce, “It’s now time to do the HOKEY POKEY!!” I was nearly always the first out on the floor as people flooded out to circle up to partake of this age old tradition of synchronized goofiness! I’d put my left arm in, my right arm in and shake them both all about but the best part was the end when it was time to…
“You put your whole self in,
You put your whole self out,
You put your whole self in,
And you shake it all about…”
This is when all the fun happened because you never knew what was going to happen. The entire skate floor would go crazy with each person throwing every bit of their energy and emotion into that last piece of the song. Just thinking about it makes me smile and want to do it all again!
As leaders, if we want our people to be passionate about what they do, we need to make the endeavor like the end of the Hokey Pokey. WE have to throw our whole selves in and shake them all about! Passionate workplaces start with passionate leaders exhibiting the energy and emotion needed to make the endeavor a success.
Energy, literally, is the natural enthusiasm and effort that allows you to get things done. I like to apply Newton’s law of physics to this and say, “Leaders that stay in motion tend to have teams to stay in motion.” It’s not enough for us to talk about doing things, we actually need to do them and model the behavior we want to see.
I used to work for a man who never left his office. I swear, he could have been stuffed at his computer and (as long as we got an occasional email) we wouldn’t have known the difference. His low energy style was like an opiate for the entire organization. Conversely, his replacement was the exact opposite. He was always out and about and involved. He was putting his whole self in kept everyone on target and energized. The short story, if we want energy, we have to give energy.
Emotions are the feelings we have about things and, most importantly, are contagious. It is a phenomena called emotional contagion. Emotions pass from person to person (both positive and negative). If we’re sour on something, we can expect that our teams will be too. But, if we throw the excitement like that at end of the Hokey Pokey at the issue, we can expect that our teams will do the the same.
I am an upbeat person but, like all humans, have my downs too. On those days when the skies were gray and my mood would match, I used to just come into my office, shut the door, and be in my mood. As you might guess, that gray cloud would descend on my team (and match me). In the same respect, when I’d come into work with a smile on my face and in a great mood, my team would mirror my mood. Short story: Positivity breeds positivity and negativity breeds the same.
Granted, as with the rest of the Hokey Pokey, there are times when you just put your arm in, your leg in, or your head in. That’s the nature of how things go. But the most fun comes from when you put your energy, emotion and YOUR WHOLE SELF and let it loose. THAT, MY FRIENDS, IS PASSION! Go ahead and throw your whole self in, turn yourself around and do the Leader Pokey! Now, that’s what it’s all about!