When I was in college, my good friend and I had a phrase we used to refer to certain people: “Drain People.” We used it to describe the people in our lives (usually a boyfriend) who sucked the life out of us. In other words, someone who took a lot from us but gave very little in return. We borrowed the phrase from Tony Robbins, who encouraged us to avoid Drain People at all costs.
I saw a recent post at ThoughtfulLaw.com on the same topic. It discusses the same kinds of people from an organizational stand point:
In theory, every person on your team is a source of energy for your organization. But in reality, some team members create energy while others sap or destroy energy. If you know your team well, you already know which team members are sappers and which ones are the energizers.
High-energy performers test the limits and spur themselves and others on to even greater results. These are the people who will push you up and add energy to your reservoir. They spark others to perform. It’s fun to watch them in action. A team full of energized people is typically easy to motivate but challenging to manage because their high energy level requires constant direction and focus.
At the other end of the spectrum are the sappers. You know who they are – they complain and whine, and think of every reason possible why plans and strategies will not work. They are the people who pull you down and sap your energy. They blame others for their issues and don’t accept responsibility for what they control. Their negativity and cynicism effectively sucks out the energy right out of the room. A team dominated by energy sappers is relatively easy to lead because there is little forward movement or activity. But it is very challenging to motivate these team members to achieve results because they are content with mediocrity.
Your organizational energy is not the sum of your individuals. It is dependent on the ratio of energizers to sappers. If you have more sappers than energizers, the energy will be drained, and in fact the energizers may eventually become sappers. As unfortunate as it is, a negative, cynical person has a far greater impact on the energy of the team than a positive person. Adding a positive person does not counter a sapper; in fact it probably takes at least three energizers to counter the energy drained by one sapper ….
Based on: Cottrell, D. (2009). Monday Morning Motivation: Five Steps to Energize Your Team, Customers, and Profits. New York: HarperCollins Publishers.
What are you? An energizer or a sapper? What do you want to be?
And what kind of people do you have around you? Are there any “drain people” that you may need to move away from in order to have the life you want?