Leadership and Happiness

Along with being the leader of a company comes a whirlwind of feelings, and somewhere intertwined in those feelings is happiness. By happiness, I’m referring to the joy one experiences serving as the leader of a company or organization. And the reason I’m focusing on happiness is simple. In the daily process of leadership, happiness can easily get relegated to a “wish I had it” rather than “I gotta have it” feeling. Why be a leader if it doesn’t make you happy? Why put yourself into situations that cause stress, and even extreme distress? Why subject yourself to criticism from those who don’t agree with how you lead?

So where exactly is the happiness part of leadership? The answer is basic: It’s all around you. You’re just too caught up in the decisions, frustrations, challenges, misfires and backfires to see it. You may be questioning your own leadership abilities, or style of leadership, or battling your own leadership blockages, such as fear of confrontation, or the all-time favorite – procrastination. Yes, it’s hard to find happiness in leadership with all this stuff going on around you and inside you.

You’re probably thinking of asking the business gods, “Please send me some leadership happiness – now.” Remember what I wrote earlier – happiness is all around you; you just can’t see it.

Here are some no-compromise leadership strategies to find happiness in the crazy, stressful and wacky world of leadership:

  • It’s really about people: Numbers just measure your effectiveness as a leader. If your company culture has toxic waste building up, or if it’s in the fiery pits of hell, your numbers will reflect it. Leaders are the keepers and protectors of the company vision. Leaders inspire others to reach their full potential. If you want to find happiness, make paying attention to your people your top priority. Lift your team up and show them the path to that elusive next level that you want to get to. Flip your mental switches to “positive” and sparks of happiness will begin to appear.
  • Celebrate the good: It’s so easy to become consumed with all that’s wrong with your company that it clouds all that’s good about it. Here’s one to start with: If you’re still in business today, your company is surviving in the worst economic times since the Great Depression. Even if your company is struggling, it is alive and functioning. It had a “win” somewhere. Did you celebrate it? An employee rose to the challenge. Did you celebrate it? You made a tough decision. Did you celebrate it? It’s hard for people to step up and make a difference when the leader forgets how to give a high-five or shout out a “woo hoo.” There is happiness occurring all around you. Take the blinders off and celebrate every morsel of it.


  • Get it done: There is something about checking off “big items” on your to-do list. By “big items” I’m referring to those infamous tough decisions that you know must be made but that you avoid, ignore and procrastinate on. It’s hard to find happiness when you’re stressed and agonizing over a tough decision. It’s even worse when you’ve made the decision but refuse to hit the launch button. In almost every case, happiness resides on the other side of tough decisions. Fulfillment is derived from getting things done. Happiness is the glow of fulfillment. Get it done. Be happy.
  • Lighten up: The mood of the leader sets the tone of the entire company. I’ve seen leaders enter a room and instantly fill it with their funk. When you’re in a funk, you bring it with you wherever you go and get it all over everyone else. You can even spread your funk on the phone, in e-mails and in text messages. There are certainly times when leaders need to be serious. But as keeper of the company culture, you need to lighten up to lift your company up. No compromise.

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August 2011
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