Is Your Team Happy?

Young adultsThis is another post from Dr. Wright L. Lassiter, Jr., the Chancellor of the Dallas County Community College District.  We are honored to learn from his experience and leadership knowledge through these posts. Check back monthly for his posts!

From: Chancellor’s Weekend Memo # 334


Whenever I have a so-called “day off,” I use it to read, explore subjects, and clean up assembled folders and files.  I came across an article written by Susan David that appeared in a Harvard Business Review document.  She gave some pointers on how to create a happier team.  Before diving into the article, I pulled down one of my resources to refresh my memory on just what “happiness” is.

The dictionary definition is:  “state of contentment, joy and well-being; bliss; having it all together.”  The phrase, “having it all together,” is intriguing, is it not?  I wonder, who has it all together?

Joseph Addison writing in The Spectator (March 17, 1711) had this to say about happiness:  “True happiness is of a retired nature, and an enemy to pomp and noise; it arises, in the first place, from the enjoyment of one’s self; and in the next, from the friendship and conversation of a few select companions.”  I believe we all can relate to this thought from Addison.

Robert G. Ingersoll had an interesting thought about happiness that appeared in his Creed in the late 19th century.  He wrote, “Happiness is the only good.  The time to be happy is now.  The place to be happy is here.  The way to be happy is to make others so.”

Research shows that happy people have better health, are more creative, produce better results, and are willing to go the extra mile.  What’s more, happiness is contagious; it creates a virtual spiral that leads to further engagement.

Susan David has some interesting things to say about happiness that I felt compelled to share with my colleagues.

To the question, “How can leaders create happier organizations?” she describes three pathways:

Perhaps the first step is to clarify what we mean by “happy.”  Psychologists typically identify happiness by three distinct pathways.  The first is the “pleasant life,” which involves positive experiences, including contentment, hope, and sensory enjoyment.  This kind of well-being is often referred to as “hedonia,” based on the Greek term for pleasure.  The second is the “engaged life,” or “eudaimonia.”  The ancient Greeks believe in a “daimon,” or guardian spirit, that would guide you toward your destiny; the word also means genius.   The engaged life thus refers to a person’s ability to deploy his personal genius — to use his unique strengths and talents in a way that engages and absorbs him.  The third pathway is the “meaningful life,” which relates to the desire to be part of something bigger than oneself — to belong and contribute to an institution that has purpose.

It is my conclusion that all three of the pathways — pleasure, engagement, and meaning — are important.  Perhaps we, as educational leaders, can use the knowledge of these pathways to ask questions like the following:

•           Do my colleagues enjoy their relationships and the environment at work?

•           Do my colleagues laugh?

•           Are my associates in the right roles — ones that fit their skill sets and offer appropriate challenge?

•           Do my colleagues get to use their genius?

•           Do my colleagues feel they are a part of something that matters?

For more information on how BOSS classes can help you become more productive and effective or information on the BOSS degree and certificates, contact Becky Jones, Associate Dean, 972-238-6215.

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