How much Real Estate does Happiness have in Your Leadership Philosophy?

FrameDoes Happiness live in your Leadership Philosophy?

I am sad to say that I don’t have a good picture for my blog this month. Just an empty frame. And that in itself, says a lot.  Google “Pictures of Happiness” and you will find loads of adorable children, cute animals, blond couples on deserted white sandy beaches, and coca-cola classic bottles; but good luck with finding pictures of Happy Leaders. 

So why is it that “Happiness” doesn’t have a seat at the business table?

I vividly remember a very unpleasant conversation I once had with a COO in the context of a compensation review. Long story short – he didn’t agree with a compensation recommendation. When he asked me what warranted the % increases, I replied, in all my HR glory: “They are a very happy team”.  The wrath came right after that statement… and so I proceeded to wrap it (the statement, not the COO) in cellophane and freeze it in order to never put my HR foot in my mouth again. At least that’s how I used to think.

To be fair to the COO, I could have bundled that statement with concrete elements of productivity. But a more clever COO would have been inquisitive and asked me to elaborate.

He would have learned that their productivity was outstanding. Their level of commitment, engagement, drive and teamwork was directly related to the fact that, brace yourself, they were HAPPY. And so was their Leader. He oozed happiness in his own wonderful way.

In the world of leadership and work, somehow it’s ok to speak to commitment, engagement, drive and teamwork, but “Happiness” doesn’t seem to quite make it on the buzz word list. Why is that?

Wherever you go, there you are…

Nikki, my incredible boss, used to say this all the time. And so I am finding out that I can’t escape Happiness. Nor do I want to.

Wherever I go, there I am, and so is Happiness.

As a fantastic recent example, one of my favorite leadership bloggers, Dan Rockwell, recently wrote about Happiness

Dan’s post stirred up a whole lot of thinking in my little head and I have connected quite a few dots as a result:

My Values, my Essence, my Leadership Legacy, my Strengths, my Dreams, my Colours, my MBTI – all those leadership assessments I have done over the years have had “Happiness” in my profile. I once tried to get rid of it: When I first created my Leadership Legacy, I remember capturing it and almost as quickly crossing it out – a painful flashback from the past…

Until I came across this brilliant women in Quebec City who shared her Leadership Legacy with a large group, and had gone way beyond the lines of my box… she wrote about Leadership and LOVE! I was humbled. I immediately pulled out the cellophane bag from the freezer and brought back Happiness in my Legacy. It had never left – but it is now officially explicit. 

There I am.

On that Happy note here is my request: Embrace your ‘Happy New Year’ in all aspects of your leadership!

Your Happiness Challenge!

Do you ask your staff if they are happy? Or what makes them happiest at work? Or, be really daring and ask them… if YOU MAKE THEM HAPPY? 

Isabelle Clements


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