If You're a Leader, Can You Be Happy and Fulfilled Too?

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how to be a great happy leader at work (2)

Being a leader is not an easy journey. People usually see the status, the paycheck, the public appearances - things that check the mark on the “cool” list when it comes to being a leader. Little do people sense that leaders, including myself, are constantly grappling with decisions, feel anxious, and often lose sight of the light at the end of the tunnel. My teams and I often joke about my lack of sleep - but for any busy leader, essential things like peace of mind, fulfillment, and happiness can fall to the wayside. 


So because you’re a leader, does that mean you’re sacrificing your happiness for leadership? If you feel like the answer is “yes”, I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be that way. 


Here are the key elements of happiness, and for each of them, some tips on how you can lead a happier life at work:


Values & Behaviors


Understand what really matters to you, what do you value, and how do you express those values in everyday life? A common value is “family”, how do you live that value at work and model that for your teams? Are there team members who share that same value?


An example would be to encourage your teams to spend more time with family. If Dave’s son has a championship football game or Jenny’s granddaughter was just born, you can exemplify that value by celebrating that event at work in some way - big or small. As you begin to align your values and behaviors with those of your teams, you can begin to step into a happier sense of work/life integration. They no longer have to be separate, and you can show up to work as a more authentic leader


Higher Purpose 


jenn lim quote delivering happiness purpose valuesWhat drew you to lead in the first place? Maybe it was the money, title, or status. Most likely, there was a deeper reason for it. There are many methods used to uncover your personal purpose, one of which DH Global CEO Jenn Lim explains in her Inc.com article.


You can use the same method of drafting your organization’s purpose to draft your personal purpose statement. Beyond the numbers, profits, operations, etc., you’re making an impact as a leader on the lives of your employees and community. It might be overwhelming to think about, but it’s also an amazing opportunity to extend more meaning into the work you do every day.  




Sense of Connectedness


Create spaces to connect with the people around you, close the gap between you and your other leader colleagues, your team, and anyone in your working ecosystem.


There are many ways to connect with people; the best, fastest, and most powerful way is to be authentic and true to yourself. That requires a lot of courage and vulnerability since you are putting yourself out in the world. 


The old paradigm and the traditional corporate world has taught us to show strength, little to no emotional attachments, exhibit drive, etc. and sometimes we believe that showing our vulnerabilities will make us lose the respect with our teams. It is proven that it is actually the opposite. That doesn’t mean that you have to share everything with everyone from the first day, yet it’s important to start creating an environment of trust where people can be fully themselves, and you need to lead the way. 


Here is a bit of the science behind it: 




Sense of Progress


This is a critical factor in keeping your team engaged & motivated. This element divides into 3 steps to instill a sense of progress, achievement, and evolution towards achieving the defined/desired goal.

  • Break down your goals: Using the SCRUM/AGILE methodologies, it is important to define goals that, at maximum, can be achieved in 2-week sprints. If you have a huge goal, break it down so you can experience/touch/feel the progress every few days.
  • Measure every step of the way: Spend time to measure, analyze, learn, realign, and continue to move forward. Sometimes we set up amazing goals...but we don’t stop to measure their evolution and execution. 
  • Celebrate the big and SMALL achievements: Remember to celebrate all achievements and include all of the players in the celebrations. Design an appropriate celebration for each one of the set goals/milestones.


Sense of Control


Self-management is the way most organizations will work in the near future (many Fortune 500 companies already do), that is why it’s vital to start evolving to a leadership style where we go from leading by control vs. leading by context. 


Leading by control allows the leader to guarantee (or at least try to guarantee) that things will happen the way he/she wants and has designed. It is also true that it does not help people grow, is not agile, and does not foster innovation and creativity, since teams mainly do what they are told to do. 


Leading by context takes more time and requires other types of skills to communicate and inspire people to take action, in line with the leader’s vision and action plan. It also makes the team feel trusted and empowered to achieve the defined goals, and it allows the leader to have time to analyze, think two steps ahead, and plan accordingly.


Dear leader...

Remember, you are a person too, with emotions, with families, pains, challenges, hobbies, dreams, nightmares, desires, etc. If you get to connect in a meaningful way with yourself and your team, happiness will increase just like in any other human ecosystem. Be a happy leader!


How does your workplace support your happiness and business results? Discover more:




About the Author

Carlos Piera-Serra

Carlos decided to dedicate his life to making people happy after one life-changing trip, sailing across the Atlantic with a few close friends and family members. Throughout the journey, he took time to learn about himself by reading great books, enjoying meaningful conversations, and simply staring at the brilliance of the stars. When this trip was over, he took his mission to India, where he felt happiness could make the most impact and combined volunteer work with human resource consulting. This work led him to more deeply consider what determined happiness from one person to another? And how could he make a difference?

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