One Choice That Will Inspire the Next Generation of Leaders

Whether you’ve held a leadership role for years or are a first-time manager, there’s one change you can make today to improve the tone of your meetings, interactions, and team efficiency: be intentionally joyful.

It’s a deceptively simple idea. While this concept may not be new to you, it’s often a challenge to actually implement. Beyond simply “thinking positively,” choosing joy is an overarching principle leaders need to work to demonstrate for their teams, especially those on a track to become leaders themselves.

Many leadership journeys begin long before earning any official title at work. For example, our CEO, Jim Eickhoff, kicked off his journey toward leadership due to an offhand comment from a 7th grade teacher who told him he’d be great at teaching. His journey has continuously evolved since then, culminating in one piece of advice he would give to both new and seasoned leaders: “Choose joy.”

If you’re looking to set your organization’s future leaders up for success, teaching them about intentional joy could be key to their growth. Here are some tips from Jim on how to keep joy at the forefront, both for you and your team.

Your team learns from you. Set a positive tone!

“Joy is a powerful word,” Jim said. “I think ‘happy’ can be temporary, but joyful? You can override tough times when you’re joyful.”

In his 40+ years of business experience, Jim knows that challenging situations and tight timelines can become overwhelming. Challenging times may not change, but how we react to them can — and that makes all the difference. 

A leader’s reactions set the tone for their department or organization. If your reaction to a challenging situation is to find the positive, your team learns to do the same. When everyone’s attitude toward the problem improves, that in turn positively affects the outcome. Not just the resolution of the issue, but also its effect on your team.

View challenges with a different perspective.

“If you’re going through something challenging, give the situation another look,” Jim said. “In that challenge, search out where you can find joy, or if you can make it become a joyful experience. You might be surprised by what you find.”

The phrase, “Every cloud has a silver lining,” is popular for a reason. Even in incredibly challenging situations it’s possible to find something positive. A tough problem at work turns into an opportunity to learn, grow, and expand a skillset. A creative project gone awry could spark new inspiration. In tough life and work moments, it’s important to look for opportunities and positive takeaways.

Instead of focusing on what’s wrong with the situation, ask yourself what’s right with it, and teach your team to do the same.

Now, get started!

It’s easy to start! Here are some examples of how Jim is planning to commit to choosing joy every day.

  • Focus on having fun, both at work and at home.
  • Laugh more often, even when things are tough, and prioritize spontaneity.
  • Choose not to see the glass as “half full,” but see it as full up to the brim.
  • Be mindful about what he absorbs, including social media, political content, and negative comments from others.

By implementing these practices, Jim says he hopes to prioritize a sense of joy that feels both physically and emotionally healing. The positive impact of choosing joy has spread to other members of our team and has helped us get through the challenging aspects of our day and be more productive as a result.

A healthy company culture starts with you.

It isn’t always easy to actively choose joy, but never forget each person has the power to change their experience. In Jim’s words, “Being joyful isn’t about seeing the glass half full. It’s about choosing to see it as full up to the brim. Full of opportunity, full of wins, full of overcoming.”

If you’re looking to your team to improve outcomes, or you see a lack of gratitude in your company’s culture, take time to reflect on your own impact. Studies show that when employees feel valued, their well-being and performance tend to improve.

This year, Jim has challenged other leaders at Creative Dining to actively choose joy with him leading the charge. From prioritizing fun, committing to laughing more, or even being more selective when consuming media, there are so many ways for everyone to intentionally let joy into our lives. Choosing joy and actively expressing gratitude sets a great example for other team members to follow suit, and you end up with a healthy company culture you can be proud of.

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