The Joy of Leadership

How is your joy of leadership? How do you know?

As you read those questions, a third question may arise – What does joy have to do with it? My answer is “everything!”

When you think about leading a team, initiative, or organization, does it bring an inner sense of confidence and joy? The answer, I believe, should be “yes, if you are in the right role and have the right approach.”

Leadership is a set of principles and values that are exemplified through your actions. There is a certain centeredness required to deliver an expression of joy in how you lead. In other words, there is an alignment within your soul of acting in a way that is consistent with who you are as a person. If you are leading in a way consistent with your values system, then the expression of this consistency will shine through in your interactions and actions with others.

On the other side, if you are leading in a way that just doesn’t fit right with your inner values and principles, then you may be reluctant to act and interact with others. You may stay close to your office. You may limit your conversations with others. Dourness will poke through.

Now, you may think you are leading in a good, centered way, yet you may not have developed the right leadership principles and values. You may have gotten off track, or you may stalled in your growth as a leader.

You may think the joy of your approach is shining through. Others may view it differently, so there is another test that needs to happen. It takes a certain mindfulness to catch this test, meaning you have to focus with complete awareness of the expressions of others around you. Is there true joy and honesty in how they respond to you? Is the joy you feel truly reflected in the people you are leading? If not, your leadership principles and values may be failing an outward test. People are not buying into your approach or your leadership principles.

Expressions to be aware of may be:

  • A look of strain, holding back when interacting with you. They want quick conversations and then leave your presence as quickly as possible.
  • A certain “political” response in their answers, trying to find the right words that walk them through a verbal minefield. Simply stated, they do not want to tick you off with what they are really thinking or what they really need to say.
  • A certain look of fatigue at any time during the day. Now, everyone works hard, so this may be subtle. There is a look of satisfaction in hard work done, and then there is a look of being completely worn-out, emotionally drained.

The simple test:  Is the joy you feel in your leadership approach reflected back in the people you are leading? If not, you have a problem.

We live in challenging times. No doubt.

We have big problems to solve. Absolutely.

There are big headwinds blowing our way.  Yes.

When thinking about each situation, it should be clear that none of them mean we have to lead un-joyfully. In fact, if there is a time to have the right leadership values and principles, it is in these times!

This is not about being unrealistic or impractical in what we do. It is about having the right leadership values to get our team from Point A to Point B.

So, the question is simple, but tough:  Is there joy in your leadership? Do you see the joy of your leadership in the people around you?

If your answer to either question is “no,” then you need to re-center, re-think, re-consider your leadership style, principles, and values. You need to make the leadership shift and lead with a refreshed joy.