Fully cognitive leadership: The energy-smart approach to showing up

Showing up fully isn’t merely a matter of being present in body and mind; it’s a strategic approach to energy management, an essential yet often overlooked tool in the leader’s toolkit. At Next Evolution Performance, we advocate for what we term “fully cognitive leadership”—a method that harnesses presence as a means to direct one’s energy deliberately, ensuring maximum impact and efficiency in every endeavour.

The energetic wisdom of full presence

Why is full presence pivotal in managing energy? Engaging completely in the task at hand streamlines our cognitive load, preventing the scatter and drain of attention that multitasking and partial attention create. Data from the American Psychological Association suggests that multitasking can reduce productivity by as much as 40%. In contrast, fully cognitive leadership, with its focus on presence, allows for a more targeted and thus more energetic approach to leadership tasks.

Fully cognitive leadership in action

Fully cognitive leadership involves active engagement with one’s thoughts, emotions, and behaviours. It’s about conscious decision-making that accounts for your cognitive, emotional, and physical energy levels, choosing to engage in activities that align with your peak performance times. This selective investment of energy not only enhances your own productivity but also sets a powerful example for your team.

The ripple effect of full presence

The benefits of showing up fully are not just internal—they create a ripple effect. When leaders are fully present, it’s palpable; teams feel heard and valued, which in turn raises their level of engagement. A Harvard Business Review article highlighted that leaders who model full presence can elevate their team’s discretionary effort by up to 20% and improve performance by as much as 15%.

Integrating full presence for energy management

Here’s how to integrate full presence into your daily routine as an energy management practice:

  • Prioritise with precision: Begin your day by identifying where your presence will be most impactful. Allocate your highest energy levels to these tasks.
  • Cultivate cognitive discipline: Train your focus. Limit distractions and give your full cognitive attention to one task at a time, which can help conserve your mental energy.
  • Reflect and recharge: Use short, regular periods of reflection to assess your energy expenditure and identify opportunities for recharging.


Personal note on being fully cognitive – with 3 children and 2 businesses (among other normal life responsibilities) I know that my ability to be fully cognitive and aware is largely impacted by tiredness. Therefore, the top priority for me is getting to bed at a good hour and having quality sleep. All other elements are still important, but during different phases in our life, we have to (or are able to) prioritise particular things. Right now, for me, it’s my sleep. So, find what’s most important and possible for you right now, and put your attention there.

A call to fully cognitive leadership

Try adopting fully cognitive leadership. Reflect on how this practice can enrich your leadership and energise your life. If you’re seeking a deeper understanding and practical tools to harness your presence for better energy management, join us at our upcoming workshop.

Together, let’s redefine leadership, not just by showing up but by showing up fully and energetically in every aspect of our lives.