Productive Leaders

Ph.D., CSP, CDR, US Navy Ret.,
CPAE Speaker Hall of Fame

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leading happiness

Leading To Help Your People Find Happiness is Good Business

Can leaders help their people find their purpose, live up to their fullest potential, and achieve their dreams?

How can we help our people find happiness when everyone’s definition of happiness is different?

Is it a leader’s job to help their people find happiness?

We know people with a strong sense of purpose at work feel valued by their leadership. We know that people who are valued and respected garner higher rates of appreciation from their leaders.

We know that people who feel appreciated at work are more engaged.

We know that intrinsically motivated and engaged workers are more productive.

It starts at the top.

Leaders can help their team members live a more fulfilled life AND increase productivity when they focus on these 5 points.

#1: Happiness

Happiness is not really a destination as much as it is a state of mind. There are people who wake up happy and people who wake up miserable. There are people who may have all of the material components of a happy life – the nice house, car and family, but they could be miserable. There are people who are happy every day even though they are struggling to make ends meet.

Happiness is not about money or possessions. Happiness is all about a decision. We get to decide if we want to be happy or not, regardless of our situation. Some situations are more difficult than others, but every day we get to make the decision about whether or not we want to be happy.

The search for genuine happiness is one that happens in our brain. Decide to be happy regardless of the circumstances, and that encourages a more fulfilled and serene life.

#2: Integrity

“How do I handle ethical issues?” is a frequently asked question. It is both simple and complex.
“Good ethics are good business.” It is easier to remember to do the right thing if you do the right thing every time. Practice ethical decision-making with small issues before you leap into critical issues so you default to the right decisions. Make solid ethical practices part of your business practice.

From business transactions to personal relationships, good ethics are easier to remember and they bring peace of mind. Leaders who lead ethical teams sleep better at night, and so do their team members. Having a strong sense of integrity means making the world a better place with your presence and your business.

#3: Fulfillment

What makes your people feel a sense of accomplishment? What makes you realize that you are working to fulfill your life’s purpose? Personal fulfillment is more than the daily run on the hamster wheel.

Leaders need to remind their people of how important they are in the workplace, so they can see the impact they are making.

Whether it’s learning to find meaning at work, exploring a career path that challenges them, or engaging with satisfying community activities, fulfillment in life is a constant (and often, elusive) goal. Leaders can help bridge the gap by helping their people develop personally and professionally, in ways that reflect who they are, their strengths, goals, and act accordingly. A recent study said that 71% of millennial workers in the US said they would leave their jobs if they were not being personally and professionally developed.

#4: Connections

For the past 10 years, I have been recommending that organizations create a new job – the HCO – the Human Contact Officer.

This person’s job is to help people get closer to one another – to help people create lasting and trusting connections in the workplace.

Human beings are social creatures, so forging good relationships is key to thriving and feeling fulfilled. Family, professional, and personal relationships are all crucial components to providing a sense of connectedness with the rest of humanity—so making good friendships and fostering existing links with family are important.

Humans need to be more human, and recent events have driven some people further apart. While you may not have an HCO yet (I will keep trying!), leaders need to encourage connections both inside and external to the organizations. Most business is based on trust and relationships, and encouraging both is part of a leader’s role.

#5: Importance

We all want to feel important. We all want to feel as though we matter. Fostering a sense of self-worth for every person in the organization promotes respect. When people are respected, they are more likely to feel appreciated and be truly engaged in the work they do. They take ownership of their role and how it impacts the organization.

The role of leadership has become more personal. Leaders have to lead their people holistically, and that means helping them find value, happiness, and fulfillment.


  1. Jim Ellis

    Thank You for the Happiness List !

    • Mary Kelly

      You are welcome, Jim. Enjoy!

  2. Peter Stark

    Mary, this is a great article.

    • Mary Kelly

      Thank you so much, Peter!


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