Magazine article Industrial Management

Leadership and the Science of Happiness

Magazine article Industrial Management

Leadership and the Science of Happiness

Article excerpt


Industry has seen massive changes in the field of management and employee labor relations during the past century - from a period of strikes and confrontation to the evolution of labor law that includes workers' rights and safety considerations. To meet the challenges for continued performance improvement, leaders seek further improvement in management of employee relations and commitment. With the evolution of positive psychology, enlightened leaders are seeking a better understanding of what positive mindsets can have on the organization and a better understanding of motivation.

Enlightened leaders managing for high performance do not consider employees as mere cogs in a machine or the bureaucratic process, but as human capital (intangible assets) that are to be nurtured, developed, trusted and respected. Enlightened leaders have a goal of attaining results from committed people who have a stake in the organization.

In the book, What Happy Companies Know: How the New Science of Happiness Can Change Your Company for the Better, Dan Baker, Cathy Greenberg and Collins Hemingway state that intangible assets - including employee knowledge, customer relationships, patents and trademarks - represent approximately 75 percent of the market valuation of the Standard & Poor's 500 companies versus the tangible assets of property, plant and equipment. Look at most organizations; the value of human capital is a very heavily weighted asset.

As enlightened leadership looks to the future, they seek not just smiley faces and singing around the campfire, but a better understanding of their employees' needs so they can all constructively work together toward a common goal, find meaning and satisfaction and make a positive difference in the lives of others. Some are calling this a definition of happiness in the workplace.

To work toward a goal of becoming a flourishing, high-performance enterprise and a workplace that enables employees to grow on a personal basis requires a close linkage among the leader, organizational situation and the employees. From the perspective of this article, happiness in a highperformance workplace is achieved by enlightened leaders understanding the challenges they are facing, using the results from the positive psychological movement combined with the latest approaches in employee motivation and the balanced scorecard approach to measure their return both on people and the financial aspects.

Keys to the corporation

As leaders assess or reassess their strategic moves, develop their roadmaps, detail and manage their operational plans, and evaluate their projects' implementations, they face multifarious challenges. The workplace is more dynamic than ever with increased global competition, complexity, rate of change, new technology, economic uncertainties and movement to a service economy.

With fewer resources available, you must have employees who are more intelligent, skillful, willing to learn and committed. High-performing employees are more valuable, but they are also more mobile than before. It is also likely that employees are using a low percentage of their strengths on a daily basis in their work environment, and this could be contributing to their commitment or lack of commitment to the organization.

As noted by Marcus Buckingham and Robert Quinn in their book. ,Voir Discover Your Strengths, a Gallup Poll questioned more than two million people, and only 20 percent felt that their strengths were coming into play every day. As they stated, most people since birth have been guided by their parents, teachers and managers and by psychology's fascination with pathology. We become experts in our weaknesses and trying to repair our flaws while our strengths lie dormant and neglected. Key aspects of recent research can help leadership face these challenges.

Management and organizational researchers have made great progress in the field of goal and performance management, but the emerging field of positive psychology appears to offer many findings that can help managers become more effective as they define and manage their organizational goals, individuals in the organizations and the organizations as a whole. …

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