Making Managers Into Dynamos

September 07, 2008 6 min read 0 Comments

Every person brings their own kind of energy to work. Our recent survey shows four broad “energy clusters” of managerial-level employees within a company – each cluster is characterized by a different degree of enthusiasm for their work. Not surprisingly, the more energetic a person is, the more productive. That’s why it is important to identify what the different clusters are, determine who belongs where, and then redesign organizations based on that information.

You’ve seen it in your own business lives over and over again. Some people are really enthusiastic about what they are doing with their careers and their companies; others are not nearly as excited. Our survey found four distinct categories of managers and executives, each differing in the amount of energy they give to their organization every day

To find this out, we asked managers and executives how much attention they paid to certain things, such as adding value to the organization, being excited about or the best at what they do, and finally (and maybe most importantly) doing work that actually helps the organization succeed. We also asked them how they feel about their organization in general, and whether they generally liked their organizations and what they’d change about them if they could. We also asked how much attention they felt they wasted during the day on any given number of tasks.

The results below show some striking differences among different types of managers and executives. Some give a lot of energy; others not at all. Some focus their energy on everything but what would help the organization succeed; still others spend energy only on that. The key to success is recognizing each group’s inner potential, and making adjustments to your organization accordingly

“Energy cluster” Profiles

First, a word or two about the four different “energy clusters.” (no, it’s not a new type of health snack.) We named the groups Dynamos, Free Agents, Loyalists and Lethargics based on their profile’s characteristics. Dynamos are the people who love what they are doing and feel like what they are doing is exactly what the company needs to succeed. They come up with good ideas and have the energy to see the project through to the end. They don’t need any additional motivation from you, and they always give more than you could have hoped.

Next come the Free Agents. These well meaning but far less effective folks are just more than a fifth of any organization. They have great ideas and care a lot about the company and their work. Unfortunately, they don’t always relate their work to what actually needs to be done. Free Agents talk a good game and are hard workers, no question. You just wish they could focus their energy on something that actually affects company performance in a meaningful way.

Good soldiers, the Loyalists, are about a sixth of any company’s managerial staff. They follow orders without question and always submit their work on time and within spec. You wouldn’t change these people per se , but sometimes you wish they could be a little more creative and think outside the boundaries of a three dimensional container (some might even go so far as to call it a “box”).

Then there are the two fifths of managers and executives who merit some concern—the Lethargics. They show up every day, they do their work, but they don’t seem excited at all. Sometimes they look like they’re looking for a way out. They don’t destroy the organization, but they don’t really help it move forward either. Getting these folks on a higher plane of work performance is your most pressing concern, as they make up a large chunk of your staff.

Granted, this is a bit of an oversimplification. But as you’ll soon see, there are distinct differences between the groups as to how much they pay attention to certain things in the day.

Different clusters pay attention to different things

There are four key drivers of productivity in terms of managers and executives wasting less time and working smarter, and are directly correlated to the different attention getting items mentioned above. They are the amount of attention one spends on things that add value to the company, things one is excited about doing, things one is best at doing, and last but not least, things that help the organization succeed. The amount of attention paid to different things varies according to what energy cluster you’re in.

Dynamos score well across the board in terms of paying attention to the four key productivity drivers. Their energetic style and positive work ethic leads them to pay attention to what’s important to any organization.

Free Agents also score relatively well in three categories, but fall a bit short when it comes to what actually makes the organization succeed. In other words, they feel they add value, love their work and feel they’re great at it, but aren’t really sure it helps drive improvement throughout the organization.

Loyalists are almost the exact opposite of the Free Agents cluster. They pay a lot of attention to what makes the organization a success. However, they don’t pay nearly as much attention to adding value, being excited or being good at their jobs. Truly selfless, they sacrifice their own well being for the good of the organization.

Finally, we have the Lethargics, who don’t pay a lot of attention to—well, anything. They rank just about at the bottom of nearly every potential aspect worth paying attention to in one’s job.

More energy = more productivity

The more energy you give to the job, the more you get out of it. The differences between the clusters— specifically the Dynamos and the Lethargics—are quite striking when measuring the amount of work they accomplish every day.

Dynamos report spending paying way more attention than lethargics to work that really matters, as well as work they love and look forward to. They also report spending significantly more attention to people they like. In general, they’re just more satisfied with their work situation and their coworkers.

Dynamos also report far more ability to get things done and focus on a problem than lethargics. They are also more satisfied with their job situation in general, from the people above them to the money they make. In other words, they’re what every manager wants!

These measurements show a disconnect on the job. Some just feel more energetic about their work and responsibilities than others. But how did they get that way, and how can you make more of them?

Know Your Clusters—And Know Where They Should Go

Maybe not everyone can be a Dynamo, but they certainly should make up more than 20% of your management team if you want your organization to succeed. That’s why recognizing the clusters and knowing who’s who in your organization can help you spot places you can make improvements right away.

Perhaps the managers in your organization whom you would call Lethargics are that way because the work they’ve been given simply doesn’t matter to them. By finding out what really motivates them, then shifting their work around that information, you can eliminate (or at least reduce) the lethargic behavior you’ve come to expect. Within no time, you might even find yourself surrounded by Dynamos!

Don’t forget about your Free Agents and your Loyalists. Free Agents are mostly doing fine; they just need a little help tying their work back into what the organization’s mission should be.

By identifying where the disconnect lies between those two elements, you can bring your Free Agents back into reality. Your Loyalists need help as well in terms of feeling more excitement about their job. They’re doing a great job in terms of delivering for the organization, but it may be damaging them long term. Tie in something they care about to the job at hand, and you’ll find their attention is paid to more and more positive stimuli.


The key to improving productivity in your organization lies within identifying the four “energy clusters” and then acting on that knowledge. By knowing what the clusters are, who belongs where, and what the missing pieces are for everyone, your organization will be well on its way to creating more Dynamos. The more Dynamos you have under you, the more energy your organization will have, and the more productive you’ll be.

To learn more about our unique think tank and findings, contact us at 602.504.8787 or