You’ve all seen the research about how happy people make better leaders. But the journey to happiness can appear impossible from where you’re currently standing. It’s all about taking one small step at a time, gathering some momentum, so that when the obstacles appear, you’re overcoming them with a running jump.
Just as way of reminder, here’s some of the research that illustrates why it’s important that leaders strive for happiness:
- Happiness is infectious – a study by Christakis & Fowler found that if you have a loved one who is happy, you are 15% more likely to be happy.
- Happiness is determined by those at the top – according to Pfeffer, it’s the leadership and culture of a company which dictates whether or not a workplace is happy.
- Happiness improves performance – Simmons research found that employees’ performance is relative to how happy they are at work.
- Happiness needs to be understood to be instigated – Simmons also revealed that leaders need to have an understanding of happiness in order encourage it in others.
Others’ happiness comes first
Most of the business leaders we speak with understand why it’s so crucial to build a happy organisation. It leads to staff being more productive with their time at work, whilst it also helps with on-boarding new talent, who will drive the business forward.
But leaders don’t always apply the same rationale to their own contentment. It’s easy to think that as long as employees are happy, you are doing your job. Even if the business is struggling, leaders will try and ‘protect the children’, using this as reasoning to put on a brave face and not allow the pressure to show.
The notion of protecting employees at all costs is a heavy burden to carry. It’s certainly an earnest philosophy and in many ways, it’s one that all leaders should live by, but not at the expense of their own happiness.
Whole person perspective
While you might be able to put on a front at work, giving employees the impression you’re happy, that façade will not wash with your nearest and dearest at home. They may very well know you better than you know yourself – so even when you think you’re doing a good job of faking it, they will see straight through the disguise. It’s not healthy, nor is it sustainable.
It’s for this reason that we take a whole person approach when dealing with business leaders, acknowledging that work doesn’t stop at the front door and personal doesn’t stop at the office.
During our initial conversations with leaders, we will ask them to define what success and happiness means to them and how close they are to achieving that. We can then look to pave a path to success, tailor-made based on what they tell us is important to them.
Our advice is built around small steps, which include:
1. Gain self-awareness
Often, business leaders aren’t sure exactly what happiness and success means to them. You might not have taken the time to gain that self-awareness – after all, who has the time to think about themselves when they’re leading a business? However, you owe it to yourself, your employees, your friends and your family to gain that self-awareness and begin your unique journey to happiness.
By starting to think about what it is that makes you happy, you can begin to set realistic expectations, which will provide fulfilment once they are achieved. There’s no point in setting expectations that aren’t achievable, or setting the bar too low, so that when you do reach it, it feels like an anticlimax.
You will only know where to pitch your targets by becoming self-aware of what success looks like for you.
2. Accept the bad days
Not every day is going to feel like a step forward in your journey to happiness. But that’s fine – as long as you know how to get back on track and don’t allow the perception of failure to blind you into giving up on the journey altogether.
Bad days are a fact of life – trying to deny reality is futile. Instead, accept that bad days happen, and try and make it the best bad day it can be. That way, when you wake up the next morning, you will still be able to picture what a good day looks like and can strive towards it.
3. Do something that makes you smile
Part of turning bad days into ‘good bad days’ is doing something that makes you smile. It might be something as simple as picking the kids up from school – but it all helps with maintaining an equilibrium, helping bring some perspective and providing clarity for the route ahead.
It might only be a small win in the grand scheme of things, but it reinforces your attention on the positive.
4. Talk to someone who cares
Leading a business can be a lonely place. It can make you wonder: “Who is looking out for my happiness in the same way I am looking out for my employees’ wellbeing?” It’s crucial that you have somebody to talk to who cares about your happiness and who understands the pressure you are under.
While it’s impossible to leave work at the front door when you’re a leader, you can offload some of the things that are weighing heavy on your mind. Agnentis Partners are business owners who have ‘been there, done it’. We understand what it means to lead a business. We’re also highly empathetic individuals who care about your company and your happiness as much as you do.
Find out how much we care by taking advantage of our complimentary one-hour coaching session. Your journey to happiness starts here – one small step at a time.