The email inbox was overflowing…again. Many messages to sort, responses to formulate, possible challenges to face. But right in the middle there was a rare jewel…a message of encouragement from a colleague. What a refreshing and positive boost! Leaders who take the time to serve others through positive encouragement are actually sharing joy—speaking out of their own well-being to uplift another.
The Origin of Joyful Leadership
I view joy as intrinsic well-being at the foundational level—based on my core values of love, faith and integrity. Its outward expression may include happiness; however, I see happiness as a transient emotion. Joyful leadership, then, is consistent expression of well-being—not random happiness or jovial mood. My joyful leadership can only originate from my inner well-being and core values; I cannot share what I do not have. Leadership authors Kouzes and Posner say, “Everything you will ever do as a leader is based on one audacious assumption. It’s the assumption that you matter. Before you can lead others you have to lead yourself and believe that you can have a positive impact on others. You have to believe that your words can inspire and your actions can move others.” Therefore, to practice joyful leadership, believe that you can; and, lead yourself to establish a healthy foundation of core values from which to lead. Kouzes and Posner assert, “The quest for leadership, therefore, is first an inner quest to discover who you are and what you care about, and it’s through this process of self-examination that you find the awareness needed to lead.”
Behaviors of Joyful Leadership
There are behaviors in leadership that reveal well-being as they bring joy to others, like the unsolicited encouragement I received in the email message mentioned earlier. Is there a leader that you enjoy working for or with—just because of the way you feel when you work together? Maybe you feel valued as a person when you interact with a certain leader. It’s possible that you “click” with someone for reasons you can’t explain. These are the leaders who connect with people in ways that communicate joy and produce positive working relationships. As the American poet, Maya Angelou said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Establish Core Values for Joyful Leadership
Are you a joyful leader? To establish your 3 – 5 personal core values from which your joyful leadership flows, Kevin Daum recommends these five steps:
- Identify your 3 greatest accomplishments and 3 greatest moments of efficiency. What are their common themes?
- Identify your 3 greatest failures and 3 greatest moments of inefficiency. What are their common themes?
- Identify three or four brief sentences of advice you would give to yourself based upon these commonalities.
- Next, reduce them to a few words. For example: If your advice is: “Don’t overindulge in food,” reduce that down to Keep Control Through Moderation, or even Moderation.
- Now you need to test each value. Think it through carefully. If you can’t identify a legitimate case where the value steers you wrong, you probably have a good core value.
Did you work through these five steps? Leave a comment below and let us know your thoughts!
About the Author
Dr. Renée N. Hale is Lead Consultant at WellSpirit Consulting Group, Inc. WellSpirit Management Consulting provides custom company/organizational management solutions, individual leadership coaching and stand alone workshops. Located on the 84th floor of the Willis Tower, Chicago. Call (312) 283-8020 to schedule an appointment today. To join the Business Worth Living community, use the sign-up form on this page to receive our weekly Business Worth Living newsletter.