How Much is Sideways Energy Costing Your Organization?

July 15, 2020

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How Much is Sideways Energy Costing Your Organization?

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“Let’s stay focused. We’re expending too much sideways energy on this.”

Sideways energy is a term commonly used to indicate a lack of focus and productivity.

Some examples of sideways energy include the following:

  • Unresolved issues
  • Meetings that go nowhere
  • Open-ended discussions with no determined action plans
  • “Busyness” instead of productivity
  • Unplanned time
  • Misallocated resources

Sideways energy is energy that is unfocused, incorrectly targeted, and uselessly expended.

In business, time is money, as they say; thus, sideways energy is a waste of both.

As a leader, you know that focused energy is the lifeline of your business. When a team is laser focused, with all resources allocated to the achievement of singleness of purpose, the results can be phenomenal.

But when that focused energy shifts to sideways energy, forward momentum slows or may even come to a complete halt.

How can you realign the energy in your organization to prevent sideways energy?


Empower your team to work in their strengths. As a leader, one of your best roles is to help each person on your team find their strengths zone and then allocate the workload so they can operate in that zone 70 to 80% of the time. This not only focuses energy in the best direction for each person, it increases the energy of the entire organization, as people gain energy from working in their strengths.

Issue Identification

Issues are those things that affect forward momentum.

  • Is a project behind schedule?
  • Is there a conflict on your team?
  • Is something not working?

These are examples of areas that affect forward momentum. But they are not issues. They are results.

Skillfully identifying the issue allows you to address it and move forward.

Here is an example.

  • Result – Your customers can’t log in to purchase an item.
  • Reallocation – You pull your team in to manually process orders. This is a great short-term solution, but it is an expenditure of sideways energy.
  • Resolution – IT identifies the core issue, updates the software, and resolves the issue.
  • Better Result – Your team can once again focus their energy on determined priorities while the system carries the workload for transactions.

Great leaders are adept at identifying issues and pulling in the resources necessary to fix them swiftly so that sideways energy is not expended on a long-term basis.


Determination is focused energy with reinforced action. It is powerful, and it is the antithesis of sideways energy. It is a deep resolve to take action and reach a goal or solve a problem. Determination takes no time for sideways energy. It is focused on reaching a goal with a set deadline.

Having goals and deadlines helps circumvent the expenditure of sideways energy. A leader or team who fails to set goals, determine deadlines, and create a plan will expend enormous amounts of sideways energy. This is costly to the organization.


Full engagement is targeted energy. It is focusing on the people and matters at hand, with no sideways energy depleting the effectiveness. If you have anyone on your team who is not fully engaged, you are losing energy.

As a leader, you must train yourself to look for disengagement and address it quickly. Why is someone not engaged? Are there issues to be resolved? Do they need help with determining priorities? Can you improve the environment to help them increase motivation?

Sideways Energy Assessment

Addressing the issue of sideways energy at all times is critically important. Ask yourself if any of these exist in your organization. If so, addressing them promptly will serve to refocus the energy of your organization to higher levels of success.

  • Unresolved issues
  • Meetings that go nowhere
  • Open-ended discussions with no determined action plans
  • “Busyness” instead of productivity
  • Unplanned time
  • Misallocated resources

Where will you refocus energy today?

For more resources on DISC assessments and how they can help you developed a highly focused and effective team, click here.

As the CEO of Strength Leader Development, Deb Ingino is a highly sought-after international executive mentor, coach, trainer and speaker. Deb is well versed in global business operations and helps business leaders and their teams to discover and leverage their strengths, so they can create highly collaborative teams that deliver great results. With a refreshingly direct style, Deb helps leaders and their teams to deliver profitable results. Connect with Deb to learn more about her mentorship and coaching programs to equip you with advanced strategies to elevate your results.