Have you thought about the difference between energy and power? We use them interchangeably when discussing fuel, but not so much when discussing people. Energy is the availability of power, and power is the ability to get things done. Today’s young professionals expect to be both energized and empowered, and organizations are quickly morphing to meet the challenge and the opportunity.
Consider it in terms of how our thinking about fuel has evolved over time:
From early on in human history, access to fuel has been linear. We’ve had to find and go to the source: water, wind, fire. Eventually, we realized we could harness fuel for specific uses, so we built mills on rivers and ships on oceans and we cooked at fire pits. It was a step forward, but it was still a linear path.
Then came electricity. You don’t “go” to electricity…you make it come to you through conductors, insulators and wiring. It was still linear…available through stationary receptacles…but we extended its reach through extension cords, batteries and generators. Access started proliferating through portable devices…yet it still had its limitations. An extension cord eventually runs out of length. Batteries…even rechargeable ones…run out of juice. Generators…no matter how big…run out of life. This is our fuel reality today.
The next big leap in access to fuel will happen through the development of wireless energy…when we no longer need a physical connection to have energy. Imagine being able to power devices through the air, much like we receive wireless signals and radio waves today. No linear connections. No outlets. No cords. No batteries that run out of energy…just continuous uninterrupted power without being tethered to a location. Imagine the explosion in innovation and productivity that is going to occur. Talk about endless, renewable sources of fuel!
Leadership is already undergoing a similar transformation. Power used to be leader-centric, resting in individuals…then in small elite groups forming a core. But in an age of open information available to everyone, this model of centralized control is outdated. Energy is no longer linear nor centralized. Effective leaders today are connected across the entire knowledge landscape…a leader-sphere sparking crackling connections everywhere, networking is open-ended, and collaboration is king:
Effective leaders today do not look to traditional sources of power…they look beyond them…they connect beyond the receptacle, beyond the extension cord and battery…out into the energized leadersphere…where everyone can be empowered in entirely new ways peer-to-peer at all levels. Today’s leaders are connected to endless possibilities, and energized by the spark of each crackling connection.
Don’t make the mistaken assumption that this is a generational change; it will leave you disconnected. Picture it as the difference between Edison’s alternating current and the Tesla coil. You will connect, be exhilarated by the current flowing through you, and be carried beyond you current reality to new worlds of possibilities.
This is a call to every leader who has been in education for twenty years or more: we each have a choice to make…transform or resign ourselves to being connected to the past…a kitchen drawer curiosity like batteries and extension cords…a reminder of the finite power of the past. Now is the time to let go of the leadership practices that got you here. Hold on much longer and it will be too late. Become part of the leadersphere…if not for yourself…for the young professionals who will meet you there.