Written by Paul Whybrow
My happiness at enjoying a long bike ride could be your pain as you hate the idea of riding a bike at all. Paul Dolan who wrote an engaging book on what makes us happy defines happiness as “experiences of pleasure and purpose over time”.
Personally, I think that is a good definition as it reflects fully the emotional side of what happi- ness is. It isn’t simply a moment of excitement or fun, like you may get from a great joke or the thrill of a ride on a rollercoaster (not fun for me at all!), it is more of a sustained emotional presence.
Some countries take being happy very seriously indeed. Every year the World Happiness report is anannual survey by the Sustainable Develop- ment Solutions Network for the United Nations. It looks at the state of global happiness in 156 countries, ranking countries using the Gallup World Poll and sixfactors: levels of GDP, life ex- pectancy, generosity, social support, freedom and corruption income.
In 2020 for the third year running Finland was at the top of the list, with fellow Nordic countries ofDenmark, Sweden, Iceland, and Norway all in the Top 7. For the record New Zealand was at 8 and Australia at 12, so we are certainly pretty happy too in our part of the world. It is hard for us here to believe thatplaces which have freez- ing temper tures, long dark winters and state regulated alcohol sales can be happier than here; however they seem to be.
There are many reasons that have been re- searched on why it is, and a number of the fac- tors doseem to be around mindset and attitude. When it comes to our working life and looking at how we fit into an organisation and take a leadership position, happiness is not always the first thing that comes to mind.
When I talk to friends, old colleagues and industry leaders it is often words like stress, challenges, constant workload, dealing with people an high expectations that are the words that dominate in their mind.
I know there are some things we certainly per- sonally can’t control: pandemics, the economy andwho runs the country are among them. I do very passionately believe that there is a lot that we can control both at home and work if we have the mindset, drive and actions to follow. This is true at work, especially as a leader of a team, and whatever the size of the team. There is complexity, hence why I run my Creative Leadership courses, however it boils down to a few key areas of skills and practice. These are valid whether you are singlecontributor, aspirational, foundational leader, experienced or even a master leader.
In the business world needing a purpose to motivate your teams and ignite passion aroundyour work has become a huge trend. Vison and missions have steadily been complemented with a statement that reflects far more than just customer service, great experiences and theneed for a decent growth profit. Examples include Airbnb’s – ‘To make people all around the world feel like they can belong anywhere.”’, the REA Group “to change the way they experience property” and ING’s “Empowering people to stay a step ahead in life and in business”.
Just like businesses are aiming to create clear and core focus to their business being, so wecan to our personal or work purpose, which should also embody our personal values. Forexample,
it could be “support my family to understand, respect and reduce inequality in the world”; as a teacher “to make children learn something truly beneficial for their life every day”; or mine “share my skills, knowledge, values and passion to improve people’s lives”. Admittedly crafting these can take a bit of time and you certainly have to hold back the internal sceptic.
It is no good having a strong purpose if you have a negative mindset. Hence paired with thisis embracing a growth mindset. There has been much research on why a growth mindsetdrives resilience, reduces stress, helps you learn from your mistakes and ensures long termsuccess with what you do.
Trust can be defined formally as the value realised in economic or social interaction or a firmbe- lief in the reliability, truth or ability of someone or something. Trust has always been a keypart of success in human society, especially around largescale society and economic change.
When barter was the norm, you really needed to trust the relationship with the person you were dealing with otherwise you could easily end up on the raw side of a swap. As money came into circulation, then there was trust that when you exchanged a valuable item for a pile of printed paper notes that you could then use the money received to buy more goods. Recently our trust in physical notes and coins has shifted to trust in digital money which lives nowhere physically.
We all love to believe that we also are trusted in business and personal life. The reality is the capability to build strong trusted relationships is actually really very hard and takes dedication at being ethical, open, honest and demonstrating your positive personal values.
For most, they actually build functional relationships in preference to trusted relationships. Functional relationships are ones where we get things done but actually only build arelationship that meets the depth we need for personal success. We hold things back, at timesdon’t tell 100% of the truth, have hidden agendas, don’t share knowledge, work in silos, andlike to look great in front of those in authority.
All of these traits prevent us building truly trusted relationships which ultimately inspire others to help you succeed in whatever you want to achieve.
Collaboration is a highly overused word when it comes to leadership and teamwork.
Most teams have within their working framework that they are very open to collaboration within the team and how they work with other teams and stakeholders.
Despite this very commendable desire, it actually takes a great deal more effort than sharing afew staff surveys and inviting a few stakeholders to several brainstorming sessions. I thought Iwasn’t a bad collaborator until I started to learn all the ways that I didn’t allow for diversity of thought, accidently relied on group thinking, didn’t give a stage to those who are quiet andconsidered or brave enough to push creative thinking over traditional meeting approaches.
Now I have worked on it, I see there are many new ways to build a collaborate culturewhatever your role in an organisation and have built my own set of collaboration essentials : thespace fac- tor, risk factor, the mix factor, the fun factor and the facilitator factor.
However you create a collaborative culture that works, it is a key way to drive your own business and personal happiness.
There have been countless surveys that ask why people move companies. Many of themtotally break the myth that people shift jobs just because they can earn more money. Timeafter time a whole range of other factors seem to be the reason we jump ship. These includerelationship with bosses, relationships with co-workers, what autonomy we have, corporate culture and personal recognition.
Given the cost of replacing a good employee can be multiples of their salary, it makes both ec nomic and personal sense for people to want to stay longer in the business and not look toleave. There are a range of approaches to deliver an environment that keeps good people veryloyal and inspired. These include ensuring excellent feedback loops, ensuring good resiliencetechniques, managing delegation opportunities, supporting people to grow and prosper andbeing fair always.
Many of us who have worked in a corporate environment have got very used to the annualritual of the performance review. On the face of it KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) or similarhelp us all establish a fair and balanced way to assess how well we have contributed to thebusiness and team strategy, how well we have achieved in our own role and how we can keepgrowing and ac- cess support for training or promotion prospects.
There are many performance systems I have seen that are really positive, and I have seenmany that are dreadful. I am guessing I am not alone. Some performance plans are simply atick box of very unchallenging achievements or a method of just assessing bonuses and neveractually used as real ways of helping employees to develop a long-term growth plan. The goodones when they work can be really positive for all. Even then I think they have one fatal flaw from a personal perspective, and that is that they only cover part of our life.
I am a very strong believer in taking a slightly different spin on setting plans and measuring success. To be truly beneficial, it needs to be holistic in nature and cover all of our lives both home and working. I am not suggesting that in your work monthly meetings with your boss that you discuss the sales results along with how you are going with your plan to do exercise three times a week, although inreality they are potentially very much related to each other!
With digital and mobile access for many roles the split between home and work is no longer as welldefined and discrete as it used to be. When I started work, for example, the only way some- one couldcontact me after heading home, was at home on my fixed phone line. To call some- one at home it hadto be a pretty important rea- son. Now work and home blend, often flip-flop- ping between work andpersonal messages and activities, that if not managed well could be a 24/7 for both. I won’t over-stressthe health and life balance pitfalls, except to say it is a well-re- searched and well recognised issue.
In this highly connected world, there are lots of benefits, I would argue of looking at both short- and long-term goals together, with your per- sonal goals taking the lead, so that your work plans and activities are in balance with your home ones. Countless times I have heard people say, “oh it is such a shame I didn’t make it to my daughter’s school play,” or “I just couldn’t get that weekend away with my old school friends – work just gets in the way”. There are times when work does get in the way, however with an understanding of your current life purpose, goals for the year, holistic planning and commit- ment,work and home can be better balanced to what you desire with ease.
There is a bit of reflection to enable that easi- ly and I do this in an framework about creating moreenjoyable time looking at factors like fam- ily, friends, financial freedom, having fun, health and well being and values and purpose.
Naturally, I can see it is worth starting with the effort on yourself before you add the other lead- ershipdrivers to create the happiness increase we all desire.
It is certainly true there are times that you can’t control aspects of your work and home life. These times are much more limited than may be first thought and in reality, there is an awful lot that we can take ownership of.
As a writer and presenter of courses and con- sulting based around Creative Leadership, I would say this is just a glimpse at a great ap- proach and clearly there is more in creating the skills and adapting the knowledge into good habits for life changing outcomes – but then I would say that.
The advantage of doing so though could be enormous in getting more enjoyable time
in our day and having a happier working life – now who wouldn’t want that!
We are a boutique business that helps leaders and teams in the Storytelling Industries turn the impacts of digital change into an advantage for their businesses through transformingcapability
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We draw on a unique mix of trusted expertise to look at everything with a fresh pair of eyes, witha strong passion for people-centred approaches and a fun, creative and engaging style thatbridges the left and right brain style of thinking. We connect the dots to create insight, strategies and outcomes to embrace what the new digital economy offers.
The core of our approach is a holistic perspective built on the core industry expertise gained from working in the BBC, Channel Seven, Fairfax Media, Foxtel, Cognizant, Capgemini andTech Mahindra.
We have success stories from creating and presenting courses in Australia and New Zealand, asa Professional Credential Assessor for DeakinCo (Part of Deakin) University) and joint author of‘The Changing Face of Work’ part of The Challenging Future Practice Possibilities book.