Finding Happiness in Leadership

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Passion to change things – to make a difference – eats away at you. Show me a leader who’s always content and I’ll show you a lousy leader.

Finding happiness as a leader means learning to navigate tensions between:

  • Dissatisfaction and satisfaction.
  • Discontentment and contentment.
  • Unhappiness and happiness.

Early in my career dissatisfaction and discontent dominated my personal landscape. I was constantly unhappy with progress, my performance, and the path we were on.

Finding your leadership happiness:

First, Kouzes and Posner said a mouthful when they said, “Leaders inspire shared vision.” Leadership happiness depends on “shared” vision. Without that, you’re sad and alone. The more people who share the vision the happier leaders become.

Second, know their way works too. People seldom do things the way you would. They’re too slow, too fast, too cautious, too detailed. The real question is, will their way get you there?

Leaders who engage others release rather than control.

Third, know your performance is about improving theirs. I thought too little about the performance of others when I was younger. Leadership happiness is found when others step up and step in. Spend your time improving the team.

Helping others find happiness:

Call for commit to projects, mission, and vision. Bystanders and fence-sitters grow unhappy and uncomfortable. Align their values with organizational values and invite them to go all in.

Those who aren’t committed find fault; those who are find a way. Think about relationships that fall apart. Once commitment fails, relationships go dark.

You have a bias to validate your decisions. Once someone commits to something, they naturally find ways to validate the wisdom of their decision. Commitment helps organizational followers find happiness in their organization.

Want to get better at helping others find happiness? Read, “The Secret to creating happiness.”

How have you found happiness in your leadership?


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