For decades companies have been aware of how a person’s leadership style can dramatically affect a team’s performance.

Initial research conducted back in 1939 by psychologist Kurt Lewin, exploring group dynamics, identified three different management styles – from an authoritarian to a laisse faire style, ranging from dictatorial to very hands-off. Over time, further studies of leadership, human behaviour, and group dynamics have been carried out and these philosophies have been applied to organisations as part of change strategies.

The question, therefore, is how does a management style directly impact employee happiness and what can be learnt from this?

A recent study carried out by CareerBliss in 2020, ranks companies who are succeeding in building a happy culture and positive workplace for employees. The companies PhD board of advisors identified ten key factors that impact happiness in the workplace, key notable ones include culture, leadership, work atmosphere, and a person’s relationship with their co-workers.

This year Google moved up the rankings from number 4 to the number 1 position, and Google’s Chief Happiness Officer puts this down to creating a culture in which employees can thrive.

So, how do leaders ensure that they lead and manage in a way that their teams can thrive and contribute to boosting their overall happiness?

Firstly, it is important to note that each person is responsible for their own happiness, their way of thinking and the outlook that they have. Yet, how a person leads can have a significant impact on the team that they manage.Google launched a data-driven project called “Project Oxygen” to assess what made for a successful management style.

The eight traits ranked in order of importance are:-

  • Be a good coach
  • Empower your team, don’t micromanage
  • Express interest in team members’ success and personal wellbeing
  • Don’t be a sissy: Be productive and results orientated
  • Be a good communicator and listen to your team
  • Help your employees with career development
  • Have a clear vision and strategy for the team
  • Have key technical skills so that you can help to advise the team

Most notable is that being a good coach is ranked as the number one key skill that makes a leader go from being good ,to one of excellence. Yet, how many managers are promoted to their role and given little or no training about how to be a good coach and what the key skills are? Being a coach is more than talking to your team about their career aspirations and training needs – although this is a good start.

Notice how the key characteristics have a common theme of finding the balance between being clear, concise, and direct, to listening, understanding, and showing a genuine interest.

Key Take Away

The key take away here is not to try to replicate what Google is doing or put them on a pedestal, but to look at companies like these and identify how this could apply to yours.

If the aim is to create a happier culture in which employees can thrive and be happy, how does your current leadership team do this?

Perhaps through helping your leadership team to be more established coaches? Or through reviewing your hiring strategy?

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