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Brain circuits

How to manage energy for yourself and your team

Published 15 December 2021 in Brain circuits • 2 min read

The ongoing uncertainty in the global environment remains at extremely high levels, taking a toll on people throughout the world. Even if you feel you are doing well, it is likely that people with whom you work on a regular basis may be struggling. Therefore, it is important to try to understand how you and your team are feeling.

Since April 2020, I have been surveying executives about this issue using the Energy Quadrants model from Tony Schwartz. Here, you can chart your level of energy (high or low) along the Y-axis and the quality of your energy (positive or negative) along the X-axis.

You are in the performance zone when your energy is high and positive. You are in the recovery zone when your energy is low and positive. The survival zone is when your energy is high yet negative, and the burnout zone is when your energy feels low and negative.

Ask yourself two key questions:

Am I feeling high or low energy right now? Why?

Am I feeling more negative energy or more positive energy right now? Why?

The results look something like this:

It’s highly likely you have been moving through these different zones regularly during the last year, and the trend we are seeing isn’t positive. Since April 2021, 35–75% of the more than 1,600 executives surveyed reported being in either the survival or burnout zone. Executives are sharing that even when they feel they are in the performance zone, their bandwidth is narrower and they find themselves flipping into the survival zone more quickly.

This is not a healthy situation for individuals or businesses, so it is important to check in regularly with the people around you to see where they are. Leaders can support others by creating an environment where people can share how they are feeling and be heard and accepted without the expression of judgment or offering of solutions.

In part two, How to create the conditions for your teams to thrive, we will look at actions that can be applied to help no matter which zone you are in.


Susan Goldsworthy - IMD Professor

Susan Goldsworthy

Affiliate Professor of Leadership and Organizational Change at IMD

Susan Goldsworthy OLY is an Affiliate Professor of Leadership, Communications and Organizational Change at IMD. Co-author of three award-winning books, she is also an Olympic swimmer. She is a highly qualified executive coach and is trained in numerous psychometric assessments. She is Director of the IMD Executive Coaching Certificate.


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