Does being a leader make you happy?

Nelson Mandela quoteThis is the question I’ve been pondering this past week after spending six days with leaders from across the country at the Queen’s Leadership Course.

It was an amazing but exhausting week, where we learned about team building, transformational leadership and how to be a good coach.

Transformational leadership is elevating others by inspiring people to see the importance of what they do so they want to do it better. It often results in change through a shared vision. Think of leaders like Nelson Mandela, the great basketball coach Phil Jackson and Mikhail Gorbachev.

With this definition in mind, you would think the obvious answer would be yes. That helping people develop and elevating them to new heights would result in immense personal satisfaction and happiness.

But Mandela and Gorbachev also had to endure incredible hardships, stress and conflict in their lives.

It made me think of two of my most recent leadership experiences, both non-work related. I would probably rate my performance in both these cases as a 4. Sure, I shared my vision, I worked hard, I led a team to the best of my ability, but in the end, after my leadership stint was over, there was very little change. When I ask myself the tough question, did I elevate others, the answer is no. I failed as a leader.

I also didn’t enjoy the one experience at all. Instead of being energized, I felt drained most of the time, frustrated and unhappy.

So, back to my original question. Does being a leader make you happy? I’m not sure I can answer that question, but I do know that some of the things they reinforced this past week does make me happy and more important, makes the world a happier place. Things like caring for others, taking the time to say hello and ask people how they are doing, what’s important in their lives. It’s the little things that are the hallmark of a great leader and the good news is, we all have the ability to be great leaders.

This week’s #HappyAct is to think of one small act you can do this week to help elevate others. Tell me what you think. Does being a leader make you happy? Leave a comment. Here are some inspirational quotes from the week to inspire you.

“Leadership is not about taking control; it’s about helping others make better decisions.”

“People respond remarkably to what you say and how you treat them.”

“You don’t need to be inspiring all the time. Be inspiring at the right time.”

“Great leaders elevate their followers; terrible leaders demean their followers and make them feel smaller.”


Show your spirit

Elaine Peterson in Santa hatNext week is Christmas, a time of peace, hope and joy. I love everything about Christmas– the music, the presents, turkey and chocolates, visiting with friends and family. But the thing I love the most about this time of year is the spirit of the season.

I want to tell you about a friend of mine, Elaine Peterson. For the month of December, Elaine wears a red Santa hat around town. It becomes her winter cap. It never fails to put a smile on my face. Unlike some people who prefer to sweep their birthdays under the rug, Elaine reminds everyone at least a week ahead of time it’s her birthday.  Her birthday has become a full week of celebrations with food, lunches, parties and get togethers. Elaine loves life and isn’t afraid to show it. She exudes spirit.

When I got the idea to write this particular blog post, it was the same week Nelson Mandela died. Much has been written about Mandela. He was a great statesman and leader. But what made Nelson Mandela an incredible human being was his indomitable spirit and courage.

Our spirit is the window to our soul. It takes courage to bare our soul, and show our spirit. We can’t all be Nelson Mandelas, but we can all be Elaine Petersons.

This week’s Happy Act is to show your spirit. You don’t have to wear a Santa hat around town, but do something that shows who you are, what you stand for and what makes you special. Don’t worry about what others think. Show your spirit and celebrate you. May the spirit of the season be with you.