Even with the stress, tough decisions, and long days that come with the title, I am one happy CEO. Why? I love my work, and I love the people I work with.
One of the best benefits of leadership is the chance to have a positive impact on my employees' lives. Gretchen Rubin, in The Happiness Project, wrote: "Happiness is a critical factor for work, and work is a critical factor for happiness."
So it's my job to contribute to the happiness of my employees--and it's in my best interest as well. How to do that? Here are some ideas that have worked at Blinds.com. Please chime in with your own!
I went from being a rather tight-fisted, micro-manager to a CEO who trusts and routinely delegates to my team of employees. I think it is one of the greatest gifts a CEO can offer: set the vision and direction, then empower your team to make it happen and to "own" their work. I've learned to trust them--and to appreciate them. We took it one step further by issuing stock options to our employees, arguably one of the most emotional announcements I have ever made in my career. Now, in addition to owning their work, they can own part of the company.
What's that they say about "all work and no play?" Jack (and Jill) will be sharper, happier employees if they're well-rounded human beings. My job as CEO is to bring creative and playful opportunities into the workplace. It's not a one-size-fits-all kind of thing, so solicit ideas and try, try, try them all: picnics, dress-up days, ping-pong tournaments, surprise ice-cream parties, office-decorating contests, poetry day, a joint project for a nonprofit. For proof as to just how playful employees can be, check out this playful lip dub created by my employees.
3. Continuous improvement
When people strive to meet their full potential, they find greater meaning in their lives--whether at work or at home. I try to ensure that my employees can do this, so we live in a culture of improvement without fear of failure. That spills over into our personal lives. And the best way I know to promote that culture is to live it, revealing my own weaknesses and challenges. The second-best way I know is to believe in my employees and push for their success, no matter what the challenge.
Here's a short list of things that make me happy:
- Watching employees buy cars, homes, vacations, and raise families because of our joint success
- Giving others the skill-building opportunities and autonomy to excel, and eventually become leaders themselves
- Seeing others do the work I used to do, and better than I did it
- Witnessing people do things I never could do
- Helping people thrive in an environment that is stress-free
- Learning how to be more effective at anything (e.g. coaching, planning, and communicating)
As a leader, what makes you happy?