The Happy Leader: Boost Your Happiness and Leadership Effectiveness

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There is no better time than the start of a new year to do some reflection on how to improve our effectiveness as a leader.  There are a gazillion articles and videos about how to be a better leader and improve the efficacy of our leadership. So, you might ask why write another one? 

I believe that almost all the research and thinking around leadership effectiveness has been done with an analytical and logical lens. Thanks to Daniel Kahnemann and his peers, we now know clearly that looking at anything analytically might only be looking at it partially. We are emotional beings. We are driven by not only our own emotions but also those around us. 

The research and our knowledge about the role that emotions play in our workplace are well documented. There is a lot of good research that shows that our emotional states, as leaders, have a direct impact on the emotional states and productivity of our teams. You can access some of this research herehere, and here

The gist of the research on happiness and leadership effectiveness boils down to the following: 

  1. Emotions are, by their very nature, contagious. 
  2. Being in a happy emotional state seems to bring out the creative side of people. 
  3. Being in a happy emotional state seems to put us in an optimistic state of mind. 

So, the question then is the following – Now that we know this, what can we do about this? 

We owe it to ourselves and everyone that we lead to find out how can we be happy and help create a culture which supports the pursuit of happiness for everyone in it.   

Here are Ten Principles that we can reflect on to seek our own sense of happiness: 

  1. Happiness is not outside of some material thing. Happiness is within us all the time. We just need to access it. 
  2. To find happiness in a moment is to see the beauty in everything around us at that moment. You find that which you seek. 
  3. Happiness is to be found in making people around us happy. Happiness is contagious.  
  4. Happiness is in experiencing gratitude. 
  5. Happiness is in developing a “Yes And” mindset. Accept what comes to you and then decide what we can do with it. 
  6. Happiness is in developing a “Philosopher’s” mindset. It is about understanding the difference between being “mindful” and having our “mind full.” 
  7. Happiness is in understanding that “It is all Invented.” If we experience life as a series of games that we invent, we can have fun playing these games – win or lose will not matter. 
  8. Happiness is always to be found in the Present moment. 
  9. You can only “Be Happy,” never “Become Happy.” 
  10. Remember the acronym – HAPPY – Happiness is Here, and Now, Happiness lies in Acceptance of the moment, Happiness is PlayPractice being here, being accepting and remembering to play, Happiness is in cultivating a “Yes And” mindset. 

If you closely look at these principles, you will also realize that these are also the same principles that help us as leaders to be more effective. These help us be more agile. These help us in being more aware of the present reality. These help us in making better decisions. These help us in creating a culture of acceptance, gratitude, helpful and playful. And therefore help us be more effective as leaders.  

I have been on a journey to understand happiness. Explore questions like what happiness is or what makes us happy and where happiness can be found. This journey took me to the research papers of modern-day psychology and Ancient India, Sufi, and Buddhist wisdom. 

The result is my latest book – Being Happy. In this book, I share my learning in the form of short stories that teach us these principles in a short and engaging way.

Each and every one of us has the same potential to be happy. However, not all of us are able to realize this potential. We have amongst us people who are happy and content and then those who are miserable and depressed and every other state in between them.

In conclusion, if you think that this is an important topic, as important as I believe it to be, then I would like to invite you to explore the topic of your personal happiness, either through self-reflection or through engaging with the masters –  past, current, and future. I want to invite you to join me in the pursuit of being happy.

This would not only make our life better but also of those who follow us.

This post was originally published on OpenExo and has been republished here with permission.

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