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Senior Correspondent

The four elements of unhappiness are helplessness, paralysis, isolation and insignificance. You can’t feel happy and feel like you don’t matter.

Successful leaders energize, and happiness is energy. Success always includes making someone feel happy. So how do teams find energy?

What does happiness feels like?

  1. Control: Make others believe that choices are available, and their personal decisions impact both direction and destination. Feeling powerful is acting upon rather than being acted upon. If you want to lead a happy organization, you must make people feel powerful.

    Successful leaders make people feel powerful by giving control, not taking it. Rather than imposing demands, commit to shared values and vision, agree on best practices, then release. Behaviors not derived from shared values are burdens.

  2. Progress: Make the next steps seem available, clear and actionable. If you want to lead an unhappy organization, focus on “can’t do” and “won’t work.”

    Successful leaders identify next steps toward clearly defined success. You can’t be happy and feel lost at the same time. Create progress by establishing achievable milestones. If you want to achieve a big goal, you must complete lots of little goals. A small win today is better than a big win next week, as long as there’s a series of small wins along the way.

    Successful leaders ask: How did we win yesterday? How are we winning today? How will we win tomorrow?

    Warning: Exhaustion and unhappiness are bedfellows.

  3. Connectedness: Relationships should feel trustworthy, supportive, energizing and challenging. Get on others' teams before asking them to commit to yours. Make people feel like they aren’t alone. Understand their goals and values. Do more than work – have fun. Listen without judging. Celebrate strengths. Acknowledge progress.
  4. Purpose: Do something that matters.

Successful leaders create frameworks where people feel in control, take next steps, build connections and do what matters.

How can leaders move teams and organizations toward happiness?

How would you encourage control, progress, connectedness and purpose?

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