When I think about all of the times I have heard people comment on how they wish they could be happier, my thoughts go in several directions. The first direction is that I consider why they might not be happy, and the second is wondering what they are doing to alter their feeling? For some people, being unhappy appears to be a chronic state, but it doesn’t have to be, as I realize that depression and anxiety are a reality some people are contending with.
In terms of how happiness relates to leadership, this may not always be a factor that leaders are thinking about. At least in terms of what they can do to positively impact others. However, there is plenty that leaders can do, but they will need to be supported, as happiness is what I’ll refer to as a “team sport” or effort. The good news is that there are people with traits who can influence the dynamics and mood of others, and this is a great place to launch this topic from.
Whether you are a leader or being led by one, let’s have you consider the feelings you have when you are interacting with your team. What is the first adjective which comes to mind if you had to use one word to describe your team? If it isn’t a positive one, your team is a candidate for what I’ll refer to as a “happiness makeover”. Sure, you might think I’m not taking this topic seriously, but I sincerely am. It’s also exciting for me to leverage the possibilities which can be applied to course correcting a team whose happiness level isn’t where anyone desires it to be.
Last week I was observing a team I recently started working with. I have talked to most of the team via Zoom, but I had not seen them interacting with one another. This particular team is a sports team, but what I’ll describe to you are some of the elements I’m looking to determine the happiness level of a team. Most which can be applied to non-sports or business teams too.
One of the first things I’m looking for to provide me with insight about the team is to see how they are communicating with one another. I’m also watching their body language and how they are engaging with their leaders, and vice versa. Another factor I am paying close attention to is what isn’t being communicated. This is the part where my years of experience observing team dynamics comes into play, and which contributes to helping me to determine the happiness level of the team.
In terms of how I would rate a team and their happiness level involves first having a rating scale of 1-10, with ten being the highest level of happiness. For context, the majority of teams I see and observe either professionally or for fun, are generally at either a 5 or lower. This is an average and tolerable rating, but not one that most people would be excited about joining. The unfortunate thing is that having an average rating may in fact be acceptable to some leaders, and the people on the team. This disappoints me, because in my opinion, no team needs to succumb to only being at an average level of happiness team. So, why do leaders and people on their team remain on this type of team? In one word to explain this, I choose the word effort.
Effort implies you need to put energy, time and attention into something, and this applies to what is required to change the happiness team dynamic. The challenge for some is whether they will choose to invest what it will take to turn their wattage level up on their team.
Yes, there are factors which can quickly and positively impact the happiness factor on a team, and the first one is the leader of the team. Why? Because the leader of the team sets the tone for the team. They also project via both their communication and leadership style what level of tolerance is acceptable in terms of allowing people to express being happy, or to authentically be themselves. This may seem odd, but leadership tone is one of the significant contributors to a team’s happiness level.
Another factor which contributes to a team’s happiness factor is whether the leader and the team trust one another. As we know, trust takes time to develop. However, another approach to trust is that it can also be granted up front, and retracted or brought down to a lower level based on circumstances. Circumstances which can be adjusted or mitigated to bring back the trust level to its original state. When trust is granted up front, this can also set the tone for a very healthy and happy team dynamic.
So, what are some of the other factors which can contribute to an increased team and leadership happiness level?
- Just about everyone has worked with a team member, or leader who is simply a negative person. Unless this person is willing to admit they are this way, and consider changing their negative vibe and getting help to do so, the happiness level of a team will suffer.
- Is your team oriented towards looking only at problems, and not focused on looking at them as opportunities for improvement or a higher level of satisfaction? Altering the way you look at circumstances, will have a tremendously positive impact.
- Although your team or leader may not be highly creative, I am certain there are people on your team who are. Allow them to contribute their creative abilities to come up with fun and interesting ways to make being on the team more fun.
- How well does your team know each other? If most of the team acts like others on the team are strangers or people they simply transact with, this will negatively impact the team happiness level. Look for ways to get to know one another better.
- Borrowing from a Simon Sinek concept, does everyone on the team understand their “Why” they are on the team? This is in terms of what are they contributing to make being on the team more dynamic? If being on the team is simply about a paycheck, this will serve as a withdrawal from the happiness bank account.
- Does the leader or your team members treat you well? Do you feel like you are making a difference? If not, what can be done to alter both of these areas?
I’m sure the majority of people would agree with me that all of us could benefit from being either on a team or leading a team that would enjoy having an increased happiness level. Are you willing to do your part to make this happen? If not, stop complaining about your team, as no one wants to hear your complaints.
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