The Workplace Happiness Quandary

happiness quandary

Tino MantellaBy Tino Mantella


I like that our final newsletter topic for 2023 is about workplace happiness. No person of sound mind would say they don’t want to be happy all the time, whether at work, play or on the home front. Yet, perhaps you believe like I do that rainy days make the sunny days feel more special. And let’s face it, none of us are happy all the time. What percentage of the time would you say makes a generally happy person – 30%, 50%, 80%?

To me, the topic of “workplace happiness” has many dimensions. As President and CEO in many settings for many years, I have always strived to have all the workplace stakeholders happy – wouldn’t anyone? “Quandary” is the best word that comes to mind for me because it’s not so simple. Quandary is defined as a state of perplexity or uncertainty over what to do in a difficult situation. Intellectually, one would think that happy employees are the most productive employees, but what is driving their happiness? Remote work, 9 to 4 hours, office parties, never being challenged, fast promotions, higher pay? Those elements are always out there, but they don’t always make your company number one or drive business growth. And shouldn’t we be guided by measures like performance standards, KPIs, sales, growth, customer satisfaction, as well as employee satisfaction?

Yet, unhappy employees are often not engaged, becoming quiet quitters, disrupters, and so on. They are not as healthy, and they can spread negativity like Covid gone viral.


The Answer is Leadership Character

So, what’s the answer? It’s a quandary. That’s the answer. The Leadership Character Model™ lays it out.

leadership model

The model challenges leaders to balance respect and responsibility while walking with complete integrity. TLG is now coaching more than 300 leaders at all organizational levels per year, and even the best are striving for this balance. To get the job done means to have engaged people. Engaged people generally must be pretty gosh darn happy. Yet, the goal isn’t for the CEO to always be a servant leader, nor to always strive to make everyone happy. The goal is to have engaged and productive people who have a passion for their work and their role in the business.

In summary, my wish for all of you is that you are happy with your work and with your life. One of my favorite songs of all time is “That’s Life” and the rendition by Frank Sinatra. You are “riding high in April, shot down in May, and back on top in June”. Shoot for April and June as much as you can, but it’s always going to be a ride. And I hope strong leaders, at all levels, will be surrounded by both productive and happy people.



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