Ingvar Kamprad is not merely a multi-billionaire and the top guy of company employing well above 100,000 people worldwide – he’s is also a happy person, and he’s not afraid to show it.
The same goes for many other top executives like Tony Hsieh of Zappos, Herb Kelleher of Southwest Airlines, Jørgen Vig Knudstorp of LEGO and Brin&Page of Google. Richard Branson of Virgin is perhaps the most famous example of a top exec who isn’t afraid of being happy, enthusiastic and funloving.
Would you dare to? Can people tell that you’re happy from looking at you? Are you walking the halls of your company with a smile on your face, a cheerful outlook and an unflagging faith in the future? Or have you, like so many other managers, bound yourself to an identity that requires a professional, cold, serious, disparaging and businesslike appearance?
Happiness pays off. Happiness at work is catching – and when the boss is happy, it’s downright infectious. If you, the person in charge, seem unhappy, you dampen the mood of everyone else in the company. This leads to more sick days, more stress, higher staff turnover and lower efficiency. On the other hand: When you radiate energy, curiosity and enthusiasm, you inevitably pass on your attitude to your employees. They grow happier and more creative, and they’ll ultimately end up providing better service to your customers.
Happy managers also gain a natural rapport with their employees, and people are much more eager to go the extra mile for a happy manager than for an unhappy one.
However, there’s one downside to being happy that you should be aware of: You may be regarded as less competent. In an exciting psychological study, participants were asked to read an article and subsequently assess the smartness of its author. Half the participants got an article with a negative, critical attitude towards a certain topic – the other half got an article on the exact same topic, but worded in a much more positive way. The study showed that the author of the negative article was perceived as the more intelligent of the two.