7 Ways to Solve the Sour Puss Problem

Anyone can be a sour puss. Some leaders are just too important to smile.

Sad faces don’t inspire confidence.


Successful leaders smile even while facing serious challenges.

Sad leaders are:

  1. Self-important.
  2. Isolated.
  3. Power hungry.
  4. Controlling.
  5. Distrustful.

Organizations reflect their leaders. Unhappy leaders build unhappy organizations.


There’s no rule that says the more important you are the sadder you have to look.

The CEO and COO of the National Association of Federal Credit Unions (NAFCU) made me smile because they smiled. I met B. Dan Berger and Anthony Demangone in Las Vegas at the NAFCU’s 47th annual conference where I gave a keynote.

I asked Dan and Anthony about smiling-leadership while we discussed their new book, “Managing and Leading Well.”

7 ways to solve the sour puss problem:

  1. “You have to enjoy people,” Berger. Enjoy people because they’re human beings. It doesn’t matter if you like everything about them. Enjoy them.
  2. “Trust your team,” Demangone, “My job is to bring out the best in others.” Trusting the team frees leaders to enjoy the process.
  3. Care for people. “I have an obligation to find out what keeps our CEO’s up at night,” Berger
  4. Connect with people. Both Dan and Anthony talked about management by walking around. Find out what’s happening on the Little League team or in their family life.
  5. “Bring enthusiasm to problem solving. There’s a lot of room for fun in solving challenges.” Demangone.
  6. “Talk about having fun. You’ll reach a point where it’s self-reinforcing.” Dan & Anthony.
  7. “We have a no asshole rule here. If you hire one you just became the biggest one.” Berger

Fun doesn’t have to be frivolous or irresponsible even in financial institutions.

How can leaders build happy organizational cultures?