Aretha Franklin was on to something. She sang it loud and proud, "All I want, honey, is a little respect." And that applies to work as well. The number one reason people leave a job? A disrespecting boss. Not lack of money. Lack of respect.
What if joy was a leader's responsibility? A skill required. An expectation of good leadership. A competency no less important than thinking strategically or leading change.
What is joy?
Great delight or happiness caused by something good or satisfying (thank you, dictionary.com). Could work really be the source of delight and happiness? Yes! And as leaders, we have an opportunity to fuel it.
So why should this be our job as leaders? As columnist Steven E.F. Brown summed it up in the San Francisco Business Times, it's all about "karma." Here's a snippet from his recent article:
"To understand karma you just need to think about why you don't pee in your own bath. Because you're the one who has to sit in it! If you are an unhappy, cruel, ungrateful person, you make the people around you similarly unhappy, cruel and ungrateful, and you have to live among them."
That's why joy is our job as a leader. Because who wants to spend the majority of each day working in a miserable, disrespectful, crappy environment? Create delight, joy, satisfaction, respect, and you get to work in it too!
Still not convinced? Here are a few more reasons to choose joy as a competency:
- People watch you to determine how to act (called, "social cognitive theory").
- Happy employees make happy customers (which generate more money).
- High retention and low engagement are costing you thousands of dollars.
- You deserve to love your job, too.
So what would joy look like as a leader competency?
- Creating a vision with/for the team
- Partnering with people for their success (not yours)
- Intentionally listening to people's upsets (that's without looking at the phone even once!)
- Addressing conflict as a repairable "missed expectation"
- Considering others' ideas
- Approaching mistakes as opportunities to learn
- Communicating the "why"
- Getting to know people personally
- Showing appreciation and recognizing efforts daily (not once a year on a performance review)
- Staying curious instead of jumping to judgment
- Treating people like new friends
- Remembering that people want to feel like the world really does revolve around them
- Helping people connect the dots between their job and the difference they make with their work
What does all of this require? Courage and confidence to be remarkable. And relentless kindness. No exceptions.