Happy leaders are a very difficult concept to define. However, many theorists have attempted to define happiness and have been fairly successful. Beginning with Aristotle, who theorized that it is the combination of what you experience at the moment (hedonia) and a reflection of those experiences (eudaimonia), the definition of happiness still continues to evolve (de Vries, 2016).
When an organization’s leader is happy, so is the atmosphere and the environment at work. According to Pfeffer (2010), it’s the leadership and the culture of the organization that determines whether or not a workplace is happy.
Happiness is contagious. A study by Christakis & Fowler (2008) found “viruses” of happiness that traveled from person to person through their connections. If you have a loved one who is happy, you are 15% more likely to be happy. It takes 3 degrees of separation before the Happiness Effect stops. According to Christakis & Fowler (2008), there are psychoneuroimmunological mechanisms that are at play as well. When one is surrounded by happy individuals, there are beneficial biological effects that come into the picture
It’s the whole idea of a transfer of emotional states that is interesting here. How can this be applied to you or your organization?
Research has shown that if employees have positive thoughts and feelings at work, chances are, they will perform better and withdraw less (Simmons, 2010).
According to Simmons (2010), if you want to improve the happiness of your organization’s employees, you have to select and promote leaders who understand how important it is to take care of their own happiness first. If you want your employees to be happy and productive, be happy and influential yourself.
How can you do this?
- Create a space you can be comfortable in.
- Connect with as many people as you can within your organization.
- Figure out the impact that your work can have on others.
- Figure out your sense of meaning.
- Pursue your goals with energy and enthusiasm.
- Enjoy your work and inspire others.
- Find time to meditate either before you go to work, during your breaks, or after work.
When you are happy, you will create a positive energy around you and become more convincing as a role model. You will even be more inspiring as a communicator (Keller & Price, 2011).
Organizations with leaders who have a happy disposition will also be more successful. Success may not determine happiness but happiness can be the key to success.
“If you want to be happy, be.” ~ Leo Tolstoy
de Vries, M. K. (2016). The Happiness Conundrum. INSEAD Working Papers Collection, (11), 1-22.
Christakis, N.A. & Fowler, J.H. (2008) Dynamic spread of happiness in a large social network: longitudinal analysis over 20 years in the Framingham heart study. British Journal of Medicine 2008: 337:a2338
Keller, S., & Price, C. (2011). Beyond performance: How great organizations build ultimate competitive advantage. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.
Pfeffer, J. (2010). Building sustainable organizations: The human factor, Academy of Management Perspectives, 24, 34–45.
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