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Why Joy Matters for Leadership

Why Joy Matters for Leadership

When was the last time you witnessed the unbridled expression of joy? Children playing? Animals running free? An athlete crossing the finish line? Victorious supporters at a sports match? And what about at work? …….Hmmmm. Can you remember a time? At all?

So why does this matter for Leadership? And for Organisational Change?

In the moments in which we connect with joy and can express it freely, something happens which frees us up. Our creativity, our passion, our spirit, our energy. These are all things which your organisation needs in order to thrive and in order to change.

One of the things about joy is it also makes us want to move physically – we have a spontaneous desire to jump, run, dance, play, punch the air, clap our hands, move arms or legs. When we have a spontaneous desire to move, and have physical agility, then emotional agility, which is key to helping us adapt to change, isn’t usually far behind.

And let’s think about it from a different angle. What might prevent us firstly from feeling joy and secondly from expressing it? Clearly we may have sadness in our life which makes it hard to feel joyful. But aside of that – we can also be inhibited more commonly by things like fear of failing, fear of the unknown, the need to conform, anxiety and stress. Day to day worries are most often to blame – the various “What Ifs ?” of our lives which can truly dominate our way of thinking, and constrain our ability to be joyful and therefore creative, positive, and embracing of the new.

So why does this matter for leaders and organisations? I work with so many teams who perform well, who have a big, or even small “win” – and what do they do? They just move onto the next problem, the next challenge, fuelled by the pressures of the pace of work. Most often the attention which is given to the success they have had will be of a negative quality – “What could we have done better? What went wrong?”

Critical analysis is of course important. But when there is little or no energy invested in celebration too there is no opportunity for the team to recharge, to regain the vitality, goodwill, energy and creativity which can be released when connecting with and expressing joy.

Is it any wonder that we burn out?

Perhaps next time you review your own, or your team’s approach to building resilience, the unbridled expression of joy could feature on your agenda.