What Happy Leaders Do Everyday
Are leaders really that much different than the rest of us? Is what they do or how they live unattainable for many? Shawn Anchor, the happiness researcher, author, and speaker known for his advocacy of positive psychology. He authored The Happiness Advantage and founded GoodThink, Inc. states it in this manner:
It’s not necessarily the reality that shapes us, but rather the lens through which your brain shapes reality. If we change the lens, then we can shape and change the reality outcomes
Generations have told us, “if I’m successful, then I’ll be happy,” and “when I reach the C-suite, then I’ll be happy” and so on. The truth in reality is when you’re happy, then you’re able to expand your reach and accomplish more than you ever thought possible. In its simplest sense, it’s easier to tell the truth, smile, train your mind, have compassion, meditate, be grateful, be generous, and keep challenging yourself to achieve what perpetuates the feeling of success – fame and money wont make you happy. It’s the rhythm of valuable positive relationships, great results and a humble ego – it’s not one size fits all.
Being happy is very health for you! A 2012 review of more than 200 studies found a connection between positive psychological attributes, such as happiness, optimism and life satisfaction, and a lowered risk of cardiovascular disease. Happiness won’t prevent heart attacks, however if you have a good sense of well-being, it’s easier to maintain good habits – exercising consistently, eating healthy and getting enough sleep keep you in rhythm. Be optimistic, enjoy your relationships, commit to healthy living, focus on your strengths, and enjoy life – make it a daily routine – no one wants to be around a Funsucker!
What separates happy, highly effective, well respected Elegant Leaders from everyone else?
- Prioritize what’s important. Even the most effective highly-results oriented leaders understand, they cannot get it all done everyday. After interviewing thousands of leaders over the past decade from our Executive Search practice, the takeaway was the best leaders focus at the highest practical level in their organization regardless of size. What you can do is adopt a simple approach – MIT. The Most Imp0rtant Task will help you focus ON your business instead of IN your business. Are you getting caught in the weeds? Try MIT.
- Life has purpose and meaning. You’ve read it before – Why does what you do matter? Why do you get out of bed in the morning, and why should anyone even care? Elegant Leaders understand and live a higher purpose whatever that may be – whether it’s a personal cause, a contribution to society, or some other higher need – they realize what they do is a part of a greater whole. What you can do is take a personal inventory, identify and evaluate your vertical alignment (what matters most to you), adjust, tac, jibe or start over – it’s okay you can everyday if you need to.
- Concentrate on being positive. No one wants to be around a Funsucker. How miserable would it be if your leader sulks around as if he’s been sucking on a lemon forever. Life’s going to give you lemons, so break out the tequila and rock on! This attitude and behavior is as contagious and will pervade an organization quickly and resoundingly. Ensure your leading elegantly by being positive – not pollyanna or blithely unaware to your circumstances if they’re challenging and harsh – rather BE the leader; that’s who they are and why they’re there. What you can do is be that complementary asset by being upbeat, happy and genuine – not a KoolAid drinker!
- Cultivate meaningful relationships. The greatest leaders keep their ego, their relationships and their results in rhythm consistently. Great relationships begin with people working with a common set of values and beliefs. Elegant Leaders place high value on the people they’re working with in order to help them deliver great results giving much of the credit away. Hall of fame Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski builds great relationships with all of his players. He doesn’t take a shot, grab a rebound or win a championship by himself. He builds on the strengths of each player by building close knit relationships to be successful. What you can do to cultivate great relationships is be supportive, generous and transparent. Ask how you can be a better “player” with that person and ask “how you can bring value to them” then continue in that spirit of gratitude.
- Belief in self. Elegant Leaders have a confident sense of self in what they are doing is honorable and right. If you’ve ever tried to balance on a wobble board you understand how difficult it is as you’re constantly moving. Life’s never in balance – it’s a rhythm – it ebbs and flows and you have to be flexible and adaptable to “go with it.” Elegant Leaders understand this aspect as they’re responsible for results, their people help each other deliver those results and keeping everyone in rhythm takes a confident sense of self humbly. When the ego is overarching, the relationships will suffer as the perception of our leader may be overbearing, arrogant and conceited. When the ego goes 180 degrees in opposite direction, relationships and results suffer for the Funsucker. What you can do is to find out how you are perceived by others if you don’t know, and if you’re supremely confident, you may still want to find out by others as there may be a blindspot you may not be aware of.
- Avoid comparing self to others. Elegant Leaders know there’s only one person like themselves and it proves no value to compare themselves to anyone else. Situations are different, companies are different filled with different people, purposes and personalities. Elegant Leaders will compare companies in similar situations as theirs, they’re comfortable enough in their own skin and those of their team in order to not make that mistake. What you can do is adopt the same mindset that there’s only one you. There may be similar situations or challenges and learning from those instances may help you move forward.
- Invest in diversity. For a leader to be successful, they must surround themselves with a wide variety of people who will stretch, challenge and invest in moving hte organization forward. Having a team of “like-me’s” will ensure one thing – status quo. The Happy Leader understands that being uncomfortable is how we learn as an organization – to challenge the status quo. It’s not just theright thing to do. Inclusion not only impacts the bottom line it impacts the organization’s culture at it’s core. What you can do is demonstrate how inclusion and diversity open up even greater possibilities that wouldn’t have occurred if we’re mired in the mud of our daily routine. What would you rather be – popular or successful?
- Constantly growing. You can never learn it all as leadership is continuously evolving – it’ ebbs and flows – it’ a rhythm. The happy leader enjoys learning something new whether it’s about business, people or something that has nothing to do with business. Developing an agile learning organization will move it forward and continually challenges the status quo. What you can is adopt a zest and an enthusiasm for learning. The person you will become in 2-3 years will be based upon the books you read and the people you associate yourself with.
- DWYSYWD. Do what you say you will do. Leadership principle #1 – simple. The happy leader is a person of their word and it is unwavering. It takes a tremendous amount of effort to be duplicitous and deceitful. Part of being a generous, humble, authentic and transparent leader is naturally following this principle. If you want to crucify your personal and professional career and relationships, then being someone who negotiates their word will do it faster than anything else.
- Be thankful. Happy leaders are thankful for their past, their present and their future. Notice we didn’t say they “liked” their present or former circumstance. What they learned along the way and with where they are in the moment has helped them become who they are and who they want to be. What you can do is to let go of the negative past, yet learn from it. Embrace where you are today and understand it for what it is – you’re growing, learning, adapting. If your current situation is overwhelmingly negative, neutral or stressed, then change how you view the world – it’s a challenge not a threat. Happiness is predicted by how you view the world – change the view and change your situation.
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