Happy Companies Make Loyal Employees – Courageous Leadership; Sixth in a Series

Posted: August 22, 2017  

Company leaders, don’t always consider happiness when they look at their companies. They may not even know what happiness means in this context. It takes courage to really look at a company and see it for what it is and what it can be. Companies need to intentionally create a positive atmosphere. In past articles, I discussed dealing with office bulliesthe tribe effect and managing stress and working to improve employee health. All contribute to an office’s atmosphere or culture. The key is to keep it positive.

When a successful entrepreneur who invested in and built a diverse group of companies was asked about happiness, he responded, “it begins and ends with the number one guy every time.” It is all about THE LEADER.

Some positive traits of successful leaders are: integrity, smart, great intuition, has an honest mission and a missionary zeal about it, and have employees that will follow him/her in good times and bad.

A group of the CEOs from the companies started by this entrepreneur put together this list of the eight attributes of a positive enterprise:

  1. Good leadership with the people believing in the leader.
  2. A team culture. People like and/or respect one another and take pride in the organization.
  3. A belief system that seeks achievement and does what it says it will do. Always seeks the best: the best product, the best value proposition, the best service.
  4. Fairness in treatment of all employees in terms of compensation, promotion and rewards.
  5. Accountability and autonomy. People at all levels know what they are to do and do it without micromanagement.
  6. Little or no hierarchy. People feel free to act no matter where they are in the organizational structure.
  7. Employees are treated with respect. The company listens and values their knowledge and ideas.
  8. The organization is disciplined. Work together toward common goals.

Reviewing this list, you can see that it coincides with those of scholars and consultants in the field. Why? Because of its self-evident nature. It is common sense to say that good companies have honest and positive leadership, a team approach, fair treatment for empowered employees, great discipline, and a balance of authority, responsibility and accountability.

If this is so obvious, then why are not all companies happy? Because the list is not specific. It tells you the destination, but not how to get there. Those that succeed, can envision the future and are not just good at their jobs, they are better than everyone else. Most companies are self-averaging. Humans tend to default to the same set of social behaviors.

As I discussed in previous articles about the emotional brain’s tendency to fall back on survival or fear-based behaviors that lead to short-term thinking and self-defeating behavior. They plod along and react rather than driving toward a vision inspired by the executive brain. By failing to unleash human potential they behave in ways that lead to mediocre outcomes.

As stated in What Happy Companies Know, “The essence of creating and maintaining a happy company is to find those actionable, repeatable behaviors that create a culture that enables whole-brain functioning by all employees. Find such an atmosphere and you find happiness flourishing like orchids in a hothouse.”

Human behaviors are hard to change. However, changes in attitude and culture rather than in organizational structure or business practices are the only way to differentiate yourself long term. Structural changes in an organization by themselves cannot create business change. Done for the wrong reasons, the shuffling of people and responsibilities may just mask existing problems. To have a meaningful effect, the first thing that must change is the attitude of the leader. Second, they need to think about what behaviors need to change within teams, units, divisions and companywide.

Shared in What Happy Companies Know, a happy company consists of the following elements:

HHumble, inclusive, inspirational, innovative, and heartfelt leadership
AAdaptive, enthusiastic, emotionally intelligent employees
PProfit for all who contribute to the company’s success, with the focus being Return On People (ROP) in addition to the usual metric of Return On Investment (ROI)
IInvigorated stakeholders, vendors, and clientele who serve as first-line marketers for the company
EEngaged, constructive, community citizenship

The concept of behavioral change is both simple in concept and difficult in actuality. It takes focus and tenacity.  To build a happy company, you must find the few actionable principles that can revolutionize culture. Then take steps to drive those principles so that they become intrinsically part of the culture. They not only become ingrained in each employee but eventually become manifest in the actual physiology of each individual person, in the wiring of the person’s brain and in the balanced interplay of heart and mind. 

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