In Energy Leadership: Transforming your Workplace and your Life from the Core, Bruce Schneider outlines two forms of energy that show up in our lives: anabolic and catabolic.
Anabolic energy is constructive, expanding, fueling, healing, and growth-oriented; it releases endorphins. Anabolic energy helps you move forward and achieve long-term goals, achieve successful results on your projects, and is critical in leading others in the same direction. Under the influence of endorphins, however, you might experience paralysis by analysis and, at other times, your optimism might lead you to take too many risks.
Catabolic energy is draining, resisting, and contracting; it releases cortisol and adrenaline. This energy can narrow your focus and thus make you less open to different points of view. On the other hand, cortisol and adrenaline can provide you with a burst to combat what you perceive to be a stressful, fight-or-flight situation. It’s great when you need to exit a burning building, but not so great when you are caught up in the moment and provide stinging feedback to a colleague (or spouse).
Neither form of energy–anabolic or catabolic–is entirely good or bad. But in order to achieve Energy Leadership, you actually need both.
As a leader, you may not be able to control what you’re feeling, but awareness of the energy coursing through you and others can be a tremendous asset. When you are experiencing catabolic energy, for instance, you might count to 10 before responding to a perceived attack. In doing so, you might avoid a blowup or action that you’d later regret. When you are being overly optimistic (due to anabolic energy/endorphins), you might seek to cool down your enthusiasm instead of your anger. By asking for input or information about potential risks, you might avoid taking too great a risk.