Importance of a Happy CEO - Happy HO

It seems the quest of happiness has continued from times unknown. The mystics who would go to the mountains –undertaking ‘Vanvaas’, meaning, living in the forest to seek answers are well-known to all of us from our mythology.

Well, embroiled as we are in our materialistic worlds- and now increasingly- supported by the artificial intelligence wont to overtake our very existence, at the end of the day it is happiness we seek. A child finds happiness in small pleasures… its the easiest stage of our lives we acknowledge. Though I wont disagree, the rise of materialism has had its impact on what are the smallest pleasures compared to decades ago!

But as we grow, it does get complicated. Money, fame, power, et al- we kind of confuse it all in the quest of happiness- giving ourselves one after another an endless list of “what would bring me happiness”. It’s like what they call the “rolling window”- keeps perpetuating just when you thought you were nearing satiety! It reminds me of the time when I has taken on a course on happiness!

I had no idea what it was and whether I should be doing it. I was between jobs and it seemed a good thing to do- different from all my corporate escapades until then. The teacher asked us to write a list of things which if we achieved would make us happy. Honestly, my first reaction was – Blank! I was already happy so it didn’t seem I had anything to write there. But there were several who feverishly started jotting down all that they wished for (or believed in) to make them happy.

After the initial numbness, I decided to start penning down.. like what was on my mind then at that point.The list was short if I kept myself in the present moment, but seemed to go on elongating as I spanned the week, month, year, 5 years, 10 years, decades… end of life!

I suddenly realized I was exactly thinking like the time I prepared for THE interview question- where do you see yourself 5 years from now… 10 years from now. After those 10 years passed, I realized I didn’t want to answer that question- it was too wasteful to keep stressing about a point in future, I realized, I’d rather focus on the journey to there.

But I realized this was always too confusing for folks in a world driven by targets, ambitions and results! They found it difficult to relate to; another uncomfortable instance of breaking status quo!

Well, most of our CEOs are used to driving employees towards deadlines- reviews, launches, results, etc. etc. In some cases, as long as the results are good, the process doesn’t matter! In others, the process focus good enough as long as the results are good… and then back to the former behaviour if shit hits the fan. But there are companies, for whom the end is as important as the means and who don’t give up on the process irrespective of what happens…

Now these are the companies that don’t give up on their people either. That’s because these are the companies who recognize there are people at the core of their very existence. And its the people who make them what they are… it will be the people- if ever- who will break them from what they could have been.

And these people are not just folks who mechanically do their jobs! These are folks for whom work is much more than just the tasks they accomplish. It’s what makes them feel value added, its what drives them to look forward to every day. For them work is not the other half of “Work-life”, work is what makes life and a big part of life is what they spend working. It’s what make them happy!

 Someone once said- “a good boss and meaningful work”- that’s what keeps an employee happy! And of course, that’s what keeps an employee.

But happiness has to begin at the top.. the top boss being as much of an employee (of his stakeholders) as anyone in his team. We are humans at the end of the day… and exude as much of our feelings to all around us irrespective of how much ever we think we conceal. Think about the days you walk-in with a heavy heart as you carry worries with you.. did you ever realize what you did to others around you. Anyone who felt close to you would end up taking as much of those worries or some part of it- knowingly or unknowingly. In fact, some of us are extroverts enough to express them and have others share our worries. But there are the introverts, who by virtue of their silence would generally assume they would deal with it all on their own.. but we do realize someone somewhere does get impacted by it.

The higher the connect, the greater the impact!

So imagine what happens if our worries begin right at the top.. doesn’t take much to percolate down below.. a harried organization where people burn out, question the purpose of their roles, the work they do, always on the edge if not on the precipice of breakdown, depression…

Well, as humans we have tremendous resilience, but that does not mean, we can go on forever irrespective of what comes our way. Momentarily, over short periods of time, we may be able to deal with it… but sustained exposure to what is inherently negative is bound to make an impact- an impact which we as humans are unable to explain most of the time- but what we are absolutely conscious of when it has happened.

It’s why I believe its important to have a happy leader.. the vibe exudes in the organization and people feel ready to face whatever challenges that come their way without succumbing to the pressures of it, believing in themselves and those who support them.  

I often tell people, if you aren’t happy, irrespective of how much I need you on the team, feel free to make the change that you think will make you happy. Its not just important to just have high performing employees, its important to have happy employees. We are humans who spend a big part of their waking hours working- and it cannot be going about living lives that make us question our very purpose of being happy!

The question is whether most people figured out what made them happy… guess we don’t all need to find our forests for that. The answers are pretty much within. We need to have the willingness and drive to find them.