Scientific Proof That Happiness Creates Leadership Success (Not the other way around!)

Happy Employee

“The Happiness Advantage,”written for leaders by best-selling author Shawn Achor, shares seven researched and tested methods of becoming happier, achieving higher levels of leadership success, and having a more positive impact upon your relationship circles and community. In the book, Achor describes the time spent in his early life chasing success and expecting to find happiness. While Achor was living out his dream of attending Harvard University, he expected feelings of joy and fulfillment  but instead found himself depressed, confused and incapable of meeting the challenges he faced.

He wondered: if leadership success did not bring happiness, clarity, and fulfillment, then what would? Achor sought to discover the answer in a way that only a Harvard student would; by conducting research and compiling data. The book starts slowly, but “The Happiness Advantage” is far more than a feel-good story or a string of statistics. Achor packs “The Happiness Advantage” with research studies that reinforce the primary claim Anchor makes – that happiness does not come from leadership success, but that success is achieved most often by those who are happy.

Questions for Explosive Growth

Creating Leadership Success

Of course, it is more than a smiling face and a “glass half full” mentality that allows leaders to be more successful. While Achor takes a deep dive into seven action-oriented principles, perspectives, or mindsets that make successful outcomes far more likely, let’s look  at one: The Fulcrum and The Lever. The concept behind this principle is that an individual can choose to view their situation from a favorable position rather than a negative one; not just for the sake of being happy, because positive perspectives open up entirely different possibilities than negative ones do.

An example of the Fulcrum and Lever perspective: I recently had a friend and business owner experience what I perceived as a devastating loss to his company as two of his top earners turned in their notice in the same week. While I expected to need to console and encourage my friend, he instead perked right up and said this is just the thing he needed to motivate him to make the dramatic structure changes his company required. He was confident that after this restructuring his company would run more smoothly and be more profitable.

Choosing to View a Situation Positively

As Achor describes, “Happiness is not just about lying to ourselves or turning a blind eye to the negative, but about adjusting our brains to see the ways to rise above our circumstances.” After listening to my friend’s plans for restructuring, I recognized that he was fully aware of the struggles and the additional time it would take him to make this change. He was not naive or blinded but was instead inspired and ready to be creative.

This process of choosing to view a situation in a positive light allows us to apply force in much higher measure and with much greater chance of success: much like moving the fulcrum on a lever (or as someone not from Harvard might describe, like using a cheater bar). “Focusing on the good isn’t just about overcoming our inner grump to see the glass half full. It’s about opening our minds to the ideas and opportunities that will help us be more productive, effective, and successful at work and in life.”

I highly recommend those who are leaders discover the other six principles in The Happiness Advantage and apply them to both leadership and life. You may just find yourself happier, and open to the possibilities that bring success!

Learn more about Shawn Achor’s newest book, “Big Potential,” here.

A Better Leader