Happiness as a Leadership Tool

It’s that time of year – Happy Holidays, Happy New Year. Happy Happy all around!  In this vein, I recently  discovered Gretchen Rubin’s Happiness Project. It’s filled with helpful hints and quotes like the following:
“There is no duty we so much underrate as the duty of being happy.” Robert Louis Stevenson

That makes me realize how important happiness is as a tangible and renewable resource. It’s more than a casual wish bandied about or a reminder tossed over your shoulder as you rush out the door. Leaders who understand this will make sure to encourage others to fulfill their happiness needs.

Many of us raised with the old Puritanical style work ethic might have trouble accepting this concept. No one promised happiness. That was an after-reward for completing your chores or achieved by excelling beyond expectations.  Even the above quote from Stevenson claims happiness is a duty – underrated, but still a duty or obligation to be fulfilled.

Fast forward to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (some may recall from psych or marketing 101) where different levels of achievement, from basic survival all the way up to self-actualization bring differing levels of satisfaction. A leader can’t guarantee everyone will climb that ladder or reach the top of the pyramid. But, they can help to set the stage for happiness.

 Author and historian, James  MacGregor Burns goes into detail about this sort of evolution of happiness in society and leadership in his book Transforming  Leadership: The Pursuit of Happiness. I recently found this review on LeaderShop. Definitely putting it on my reading list.

In the meantime – Be Happy! It’s our duty, our responsibility and our need.

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2 comments so far

  1. Phil Gerbyshak on

    If you’re looking for the happiest workplace book in the WORLD, you need to meet Alex Kjerulf at http://positivesharing.com/ GREAT site, great book, great attitude!

  2. francies on

    Phil, thanks for the reference. I took a quick look – Wow! A lot of good Happiness content there, and not stickysweet. I’ll be checking back there often!


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