Do You Energize or Drain? What’s your Emotional Impact?

yelling boss

Emotional Impact is Critical

Fact: Leadership is about impact…and emotional impact is key!

Ironically though, most leadership gurus focus on leadership behaviors and self awareness.  But rather than focusing on yourself,  I urge you to focus on something else entirely: how you make people feel.

To be more effective, you have to find out how others experience you.  You need to find out if you energize or drain people.   To ask it another way, “What’s your Energize to Drain ratio?”

energize over drainImpact on people is subdivided into 3 categories:

  • Cognitive Impact is when we change someone’s beliefs.
  • Behavioral Impact is when we influence how people act.
  • Emotional Impact  is when we make people feel a certain way.

Why do I believe Emotional Impact is so critical for leadership effectiveness?   Because when a person has a negative impact on others — when they drain them, piss them off, annoy them, anger them, and frustrate them — they have almost no chance of influencing them positively in the other two ways, cognitively and behaviorally.

In other words, if you can’t positively influence people, you can’t have followers.  Without followers, you’re not a leader.   Your rational arguments will fall flat and others’ behaviors won’t change no matter how “right” you are.

You may have heard the quote, “Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care” by Theodore Roosevelt.  It’s a great quote.  But I think Maya Angelou said it even better:

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
― Maya Angelou

Questions to Ask Yourself

Do you make people feel like crap, or lifted up?  What do people feel when they see you walking down the hall toward them?  When people see your name or picture pop up on their smart phone when you call, what’s their emotional response?  Do people really want to interact with you?

These are critical questions to ask.  And if the answers are not positive, you’ve got to get a grip on why you drain people.  You’ve got to improve the Energize to Drain ratio.

Case Study of Emotional Impact:  Carl Icahn

We all know there are some big time bullies and “bossholes” out there, but sometimes we don’t have the perfect example to highlight their emotional impact.  When these bullies are being energy drainers, their behavior is generally not caught on tape.  So I got lucky with this one!  Here you go…enjoy this video link which is a great example of a person having a negative impact on people — being an energy drainer.  The interview was on CNBC and is seen as a “Billionaire Battle” between Bill Ackman and Carl Icahn — who’s one amazing bully.  (He’s in Donald Trump’s league actually.)

Note: If you’re short on time, skip to these special moments:

    1. 11:10
    2. 14:40
    3. 20:40

Regardless of how much you like or dislike Carl Icahn, his behavior here demonstrates negative emotional impact.

The bottom line is this.  For your own sake, you need to do an assessment of your emotional impact on people and find out how positive and/or negative it is.

I’m developing a new tool to simplify the learning process, called ImpactQ.  If you would like to test out the assessment for free (while it is in beta testing), please click here: ImpactQ or go to  When completing the assessment, think about someone you know who’s having an emotional impact on you.  (You don’t need to give his or her name.)

assessment of your emotional impact on people

Also, please email your feedback to  What did you like and dislike?   What’s missing?   What’s redundant?  Thanks for your help!


About Curt Buermeyer

I am the founder and president of LeadPeople. I hope you enjoyed this post and encourage you to subscribe to receive these in your inbox. Thanks for visiting!

1 Comment
  1. I have worked for knuckleheads just like this guy. They suck the life energy and enthusiasm out of their organizations. I built a free app for rating your boss. I just ran him through and no surprise he comes out as a complete bosshole. you don’t have to act like that to be successful people. You can learn to be a good leader.

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