Leslie Knope on Energy

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I am always struck by Leslie Knope’s work ethic. It’s not a motivation to get promoted or earn more money, it’s her determination to make a difference.

If you’ve never seen the show Parks and Rec, Leslie is an energetic, enthusiastic public official. She’s obsessed with her job and the city in which she serves. Her role models are regional directors for the U.S. Parks Department and she has a crush on Vice President Joe Biden. Yes, Leslie found her calling.

Leslie is surrounded by a team of people who are not quite as dedicated to the job, but they work hard. Why? Because Leslie’s enthusiasm is contagious. She pushes them to achieve big goals and pushed herself even more. She shows gratitude throughout the process and demonstrates her affection for them all while maintaining unreachably high standards.

As leaders, it is our responsibility to exhibit the same Leslie Knope-like energy. Working for her must be exhausting, but also incredibly rewarding. Our staff should feel that same self-gratification.

Leslie illustrates the need to be sincere. She could not keep up her arduous schedule without believing in what she’s doing whole hardily. In her book The Managed Heart, Arlie Russell Hochschild described the all-too-common condition where “appearing to love the job becomes part of the job.” If you’ve ever had a job you did not like (and who hasn’t), then you remember how tiring it is to fake excitement. So, if your work is not riveting, what can you get passionate about? The people? The organization’s mission?

A few other tips to renew your energy from the HBR article Manage Your Energy, Not Your Time include:

Live your core values. Don’t take shortcuts around your personal code of ethics; its demoralizing.

Fuel positive emotions in yourself and others. Regularly express appreciation to others in detailed, specific ways. This boosts their energy and, in return, yours.

Allocate time to what you consider to be important. Every waking hour may not be exciting, but you need to make your passion projects a priority.

People feed off your energy. It shows that you’re engaged, interested and enjoying what you do. Throw in some lofty expectations and a tinge of competence, and you’re modeling behaviors that others will want to emulate.

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