In my decades of working with CEOs, and in occupying the position myself, maximizing the CEO’s positive effect on the culture organization is always on my mind. We know that there is no “one size fits all” approach to leadership, yet I do see how much an organization benefits when a CEO chooses to be positive and chooses happiness. When leaders choose happiness, businesses do better. The CEO leads the culture, and the CEO’s attitude filters throughout the organization’s culture. Infusing the culture with a “happiness quotient” strengthens employee loyalty and performance, improves retention, attracts talent and brings out the best in people. The organization performs better.

Research performed at the University of Michigan led by Dr. Kim Cameron found: “When organizations institute positive, virtuous practices, they achieve significantly higher levels of organizational effectiveness.” Positive practices include: Being interested in and caring about colleagues; supporting one another; showing compassion when someone is struggling; avoiding blaming others; forgiving mistakes; inspiring colleagues at work; treating others with respect, gratitude, trust and integrity; and emphasizing the meaningfulness of the work. The Michigan study showed that the more virtuous the culture, the higher the performance in profitability and financial performance, customer satisfaction, and employee productivity and engagement. One illustrative data point from Gallup Healthways describes how “happier” employees show up for work, while those with a low “life satisfaction” score are absent on average 15 days per year more.

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Stuart Levine


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