The Virtues Of A Happy Leader

‘Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.’ There is little that is more pleasant than to be lead by a happy leader. Over the past 50 years I have experienced what it feels like to be led in both a work setting and a faith community by an unhappy leader. The dismal demeanor of the leader spills over onto the entire group. When a manager or supervisor or pastor are unhappy and in doubt of who they are and their mission of leadership…the people suffer.

Once I had a pastor who did not want to be a pastor. I know this because he told me so. This person, who I was fond of, felt insecure and was threatened by several in the congregation. Much of what he said in the pulpit was colored by his unsure feelings in the pastorate and pride. Subsequently the church members heard a plethora of doom and gloom Sunday sermons.

A manager who I worked closely with for many years felt that most people were against him and therefore were out to get him. He saw a monster around every corner and thus became very insular and combative. This man had a lot of ability…but he could not be convinced of it. He felt that he was accomplishing the foremost duties of a manager when he had the majority of the staff upset and mad. He told me on more than one occasion that when people are mad…they work harder. I noted many years ago that when an administrator or manager told me, as Chicken Little of the fairy tale proclaimed, ‘The sky is falling,’ more often than not it was falling for them…and they had extrapolated their dismal dilemma to the entire department. Leaders make the primary mistake of leading from their own complex emotions and egos. Freud told us how powerful the ego is in our decision making. It requires first an understanding of your emotions and a clear delineation of your personal life from your professional life…to lead when you are troubled or sad…or mad.

One of the character attributes that I appreciate regarding our pastor at First Presbyterian Church in Carbondale is his happy leadership. I have worked with pastors since I became a christian in 1969…and I have an attuned eye for a happy leader. Kerry projects a can do attitude that is sprinkled with humor and an accessible communication style. That is saying a lot for a leader when I can remember faith leaders who when I saw them…I went the other way.

I believe that Chancellor Lane of Southern Illinois University @ Carbondale is a happy leader. Nothing is more vital or important to the success of our great University. I have witnessed happy leaders at SIUC…and their attitude was infectious. We knew that we not only could talk with them…we knew that they were listening to us. We understood that we Building Service Workers and we Grounds Workers…and we Food Service Staff…were important and essential to the mission of our School…and that our Chancellor needed us….

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