Mojo is the life pulse that throbs through every living being. It’s zip, zing, pizzaz, energy…. It is the spark of life that makes the difference between having all the elements of a grape in a lab dish and being able to make a grape. Mojo is a metaphysical principle, meaning it is situated in the fields of science and philosophy that study causality and being. In other words, mojo has to do with what causes what to happen.

In terms of leadership, collective mojo pretty much gets stoked, aligned and unleashed in accordance with a leader’s own consciousness. That’s because consciousness is the realm in which mojo must be managed. It is also the realm where leadership alchemy happens. Alchemy is the power of using the energy of mojo to make unexpected things happen. While alchemy is now commonly understood as a fictitious art of turning lead into gold, that archaic definition is extremely limited. The power of alchemy is actually unlimited.

Because people necessarily invest their energies in their work, the degree and quality of that energy is critical. So is the alignment between everyone’s mojo. A leader is in the unique position of leveraging the collective of energy, yet most leaders have never trained in what it is or what to do with it. Mojo management makes the difference between two leaders who have comparable human, physical and financial resources and time, yet one innovates, produces high quality results, and comes in on time with a content team, while the other struggles to meet timetables, has quality issues and a team that is struggling with each other.

3 Steps for Increasing Workplace Mojo

The first step to developing leadership alchemy is personal. In my book, “The Alchemy of Power,” I write that “Good leaders evolve, great leaders consciously evolve.” Opening up awareness to mojo is an evolutionary step. Ask yourself, how’s my mojo? What do I want to spark? What sparks me? Also, take note of when you feel your mojo gets drained. Stay clear on the fact that your mojo is your responsibility.

A next step is to ask the same about every member of your team and your clients/customers. Think in terms of values. Since values are among our most primal motivators, people’s mojo flows the way their values go. Ask people about what they value most. Better yet, get a cultural assessment so you’ve got real data to work with. Culture is key – like a culture in a lab dish determines how well a specimen will grow, culture can make or break mojo.

A third step is to think about the larger context. What’s your vision for creating a better community and a better world through creating a better workplace? There is a paradigmatic shift emerging throughout the world that is demanding higher accountability for what people value most. Mojo means vitality and people value that much more than material wealth. As the world calls for new ways of doing business, managing mojo is a good way to answer that call.

by Dr. Joni Carley, Consultant & Speaker
Author: The Alchemy of Power: mastering the invisible factors of leadership


  • Dr. Joni Carley

    Values-Driven Leadership & Cultural Development

    Dr. Joni Carley, author of "The Alchemy of Power: mastering the invisible factors of leadership,"  applies her expertise in values-driven leadership and cultural development at the United Nations where her activities include Vice Chair of the UN Coalition for Global Citizenship 2030 and Advisor and Senior Fellow at NonViolence International, New York. Her Advising and Consulting practice serves private and public sector leaders by helping them create values-driven systems. Joni uses data-based methodologies to support development of transformative ideas into inspired actions - ensuring that activities are measured and managed in in such a way that they effect deep, systemic, quantifiable change.