How to Eliminate the Source of Unhappiness in Leadership

Unhappiness comes to leaders through many channels but one main source.

Channels of unhappiness:

  1. Pissing on everything. When everything is a pissing contest, you live in constant need to outdo others. Ultimately, you’re surrounded with inferior people.
  2. Needing to please people. Pleasers are miserable.
  3. Pursuing happiness. Research shows the pursuit of happiness makes you unhappy. Happy people pursue meaningful service.
  4. Being surrounded by ‘idiots’. Feelings of superiority create unhappiness. No one’s ever good enough.
  5. Feeling misunderstood and underappreciated. Successful leaders understand and appreciate others.
  6. Trying to control that which you can’t control. Control freaks are unhappy or isolated.
  7. Judging quickly. Judgmental people love to not-like and default to NO.

Leadership unhappiness traces back to ego.

To be specific, unhappiness traces back to TOO MUCH EGO. Egoless leadership is a myth.

Humility and happiness:

Ajay Banga, the CEO of MasterCard, was asked why he succeeded in his career.

“I would think humility is a big part of it. If you’re not willing to learn from people and adapt and adjust and progress in your mind, you can’t be in a company like this and succeed. … I think you can be successful without humility but you won’t enjoy it as much.”


  1. Doesn’t need the approval of others. You can’t push around humble leaders, but ego is easily manipulated.
  2. Connects. All true connection requires humility.
  3. Accepts people. If you want to help people grow, accept them. There’s a difference between acceptance and approval.
  4. Shows honor. Dishonor sucks the life out of your team. Once teammates feel dishonored, they engage in self-destructive behaviors to punish those who dishonored them.
  5. Serves something bigger than itself. Ego requires self-service.

Humility frees leaders to be happy.

The only cure for egotistical leadership is the practice of humility. Thankfully, you don’t have to feel humble to practice humility.

How might leaders practice humility in small ways today?