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Happy Leadership




The only way that staff teams can effectively and sanely fulfil exceptionally demanding, distressing and exhausting work is if they are well supported. Leadership is obviously a core responsibility of senior managers but each member of staff can take a leadership role, applying the principles of being openly appreciative and supportive of colleagues, being a role-model, problem-solving, innovating, inspiring and motivating.

Of course senior managers have a particular responsibility for leadership. By far the best way to get a strong grasp on what it’s like to be a patient, member of staff or visitor on the ward, is to be on the ward. In addition to the much deeper understanding that comes from spending time on the wards, it can be a huge boost for staff to have senior managers show this level of interest in their work. And the more explicitly appreciative senior managers can be about staff’s skills and dedication, the huger the boost.


As Fred Lee puts it in If Disney Ran Your Hospital:

“In my experience with attempts to improve the interpersonal skills of the staff at hospitals, those who demonstrate outstanding performances day in and day out, rarely get praised for it. We like to single out those who did something “above and beyond” to please a guest, but we often take for granted the consistent repetition of desired behaviours by dependable performers. Like great actors they make it look easy every day of the week.”


Our favourite management guru is Henry Stewart of Happy – a company which consistently wins awards for being a great place to work. The Happy Manifesto very helpfully sets out 10 Steps to a Great Workplace:

1.  Trust Your People

Step out of approval. Instead pre-approve and focus on supporting your people.

2.   Make Your People Feel Good

Make this the focus of management

3.  Give Freedom within Clear Guidelines

People want to know what is expected of them. But they want freedom to find the best way to achieve their goals.

4. Be Open and Transparent

More information means people can take responsibility and ownership.

5.  Recruit for Attitude, Train for Skill

Instead of qualifications and experience, recruit on attitude and potential ability.

6.  Celebrate Mistakes

Create a truly no-blame culture, to enable people to innovate without fear.

7.  Community: Create Mutual Benefit

Have a positive impact on the world and build your organisation too.

8.  Love Work, Get a Life
The world, and your job, needs you well rested, well nourished and well supported.

9.  Select Managers Who are Good at Managing
Make sure your people are supported by somebody who is good at doing that, and find other routes for those whose strengths are elsewhere. Even better, allow people to choose their managers.

10.  Play to Your Strengths
Make sure your people spend most of their time doing what they are best at.


Find out more: Download The Happy Manifesto for free at

Click here to view the resources page ▶




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