The Role of Leaders in Creating Happiness

The Role of Leaders in Creating Happiness

By Vikas Bhatia

All business leaders are expected to deliver results for the organization. However the role of leaders in creating happiness is lesser understood and also contested by many leaders.

Let’s take the conversation to an era, where leaders were essentially rulers of a tribe, clan or a kingdom. There are numerous folk tales where the kings often had a huge task cut out and had to ensure that their subjects were able to live a just and happy life. Of course there were also leaders who did not really care about the citizens and were more focussed on their power, wealth and entertainment.

It was always expected from a benevolent leader to help his/her subjects in times of famines or other crisis. I recently read a story of the king of Mysore who gave up most of his kingly possessions and was ready to even mortgage his palace to fund the incomplete KRS Dam. This dam would have provided succour to the parched regions of Mysore and would have benefitted the farmers significantly. Would a business leader in today’s time go to such length to ensure the happiness of his/her team?

The Role of Leaders in Creating Happiness

Focusing on happiness essentially means showing concern for people. In today’s world with hyper competition and high volatility, a business manager’s focus tends to be largely on reaching one’s goals. One cannot afford to lose business, while a loss in the team is often considered acceptable.  These paradigms perpetuate eventually pushing the leaders’ focus purely on producing results. Produce or perish (ref. Blake and Mouton’s managerial grid) then is the operating Mantra.

What are the drawbacks through the relentless focus only on producing results? In my observations, sustaining an organization in the long run purely through this focus on production is very difficult. Disengagement and attrition are two familiar outcomes. What does it take for a leader to create happiness in the work place? Is it counterproductive to his core objectives of delivering results? Will happy employees be as rewarding as happy investors?

These questions require deep diving into understanding that happiness is important to every individual. The definition of happiness itself can vary vastly from individual to individual. A simplistic approach can often lead organizations and leaders to focus on the external motivators like compensation and other benefits. Once one realizes the short lived outcomes on the benefits of such external motivators, it then forces you to think what brings happiness and joy in people.

One definition which endures is helping people find meaning and pride in one’s work. Great leaders create the intrinsic motivations through instilling purpose and create empowering environments that allow people to discover themselves. And sometimes all it takes is emphatic listening. Simple as it might sound, it is quite another thing to practice and find ways to alleviate people from their current paradigms. Genuine executive coaching conversations can help break these barriers.

Excellence is a hallmark of Joy! Focus on creating joyful and meaningful workplaces can be potential enablers in creating excellence without compromising on the focus to produce. Big picture thinking meshes the ability to take people along and getting results. They are indistinguishable. You are then poised for a huge leap and true organizational transformation. But it all begins with you!


8 thoughts on “The Role of Leaders in Creating Happiness

  1. Neeraj says:

    Good Morning Vikas

    This is best to read first thing the morning.. During the reading your article lot of questions were arising in my mind..and i was analysing myself Is these leadership traits are existing in my personality?

    Nicely crafted the article and your points left person with thoughts to be become better leader to going beyond the business leader.

    Specially story about king of mysore and and joy of empowering other..make more leaders


  2. Achievement of goals and creating happiness very often look like conflicting missions involving a trade off. The degree of conflict would depend on the degree of alignment the leaders accomplish between the employee’s passion and his/her role in the organization.

  3. Deepika says:

    Awesome article.

  4. Charuta p says:

    It’s truely meaningful !!
    As a leader one many a times try to do so many things but the focus of satisfied teammate gets missed. Instead just doing small things we can keep them engaged, engaged people give best outputs. You have put this whole thing in very simple but convincing manner! Thanks for sharing this! It’s good to have such periodic reminders which bring us back on track!

  5. Nitin Bhatia says:

    Jack Welch ones quoted that CEO is not just Cheif Executive Officer but he is Chief People Officer also. No organization can deliver excellence results if people are not happy and engaged.
    People work on Processes, Processes produces Results, Results cannot be altered….hence keep your people motivated, Happy, engaged to deliver excellent results.

  6. Shobha Srikanth says:

    The article is well researched and presented in simple language.
    It is important for the leaders to creat conducive environment for his employees in order to have good organizational health.
    I feel these days, employees value work- life balance more than anything.
    So, the leaders need to invest time, money and effort to understand what makes your employees tick.

  7. Sanjeev Potnis says:

    A thought provoking article Vikas.

  8. Suraj Bhadsavale says:

    Lovely article, well articulated thoughts on futuristic actions by leaders. Thought pondering on people happiness and big picture thinking. Well done,Vikas!!!

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