Author: Dr Jopie de Beer, CEO of JvR Africa Group
People in leadership positions often behave badly, which may be the reason why up to 75% of employees internationally report that their manager/leader is the worst part of their job. In fact, all over the world trust in leadership is also reported as being at an all-time low. Bad leaders often create circumstances where everyone around them "drink from the poison cup" to experience turmoil, risk, fragmentation and despair. In circumstances like these, it becomes exceptionally important to use ways of strengthening our own- and other's resilience and to jealously guard our personal experience of wellbeing or happiness. This is why it is important to put forward that leadership is much more than "being in charge", those occupying such positions have the responsibility to create an environment where people want to live, work and play, where they feel that they contribute and where they are treated with respect. In addition, it is crucial that relationships in the workplace be managed in such a way that the necessary discipline including trust, respect, loyalty and hope co- exists.
Each person's experience of wellbeing (happiness) is impacted on by our hard wiring and mental habits. Happiness or the lack thereof comes from within ourselves and the way we think can drive us to despair and helplessness or to positive problem-solving. With regard to our resilience, our personal thinking habits may make life intolerable or filled with opportunities. We know those with a lighter mood find interpersonal relationships easier and tend to be generally more resilient. Without underestimating the harsh realities people live in and how it could impact on their sense of wellbeing and happiness. We should all consider using our well-known South African sense of humor as often as possible. Let's laugh at ourselves and those we live with. Such laughter has very valuable physiological and emotional benefit but it also has an invaluable social benefit when we are able to laugh together. The belief of being helpless and/or the victim of circumstances and blaming others have no value in building your resilience or sense of well-being- particularly if used as an excuse for poor behaviour or non-action. By re-framing experiences to highlight opportunities rather than catastrophes will already make life easier for all. Try to see events as a "blip on the graph" that will pass and if a situation is not of your doing stop blaming yourself for it. Celebrate the fact that there are many more good than bad people in our country and how much we enjoy living and shopping together.
Don't just survive, thrive
There are, of course, many types of happiness or wellbeing. It is much more complex than it seems. For some, happiness may come from everyday possessions and experiences, but even more sustainable happiness comes from finding satisfaction in what you do every day and making sure that there is meaning and purpose of your life. Well-being /happiness may at first seem to be related to survival but also has much to do with being able to thrive. In a country where the unemployment levels are higher than ever before, where poverty and poor education are regularly reported in the media, where political murders are taking place and crime seems to be out of control, it is not difficult to understand that it affects the mood and resilience of the citizens. Maslow's theory illustrates that it is very difficult for people to have a sense of wellbeing if their basic needs for survival, safety, security and belonging are not met. These are prerequisites for being proud and self-actualised. Although there are circumstance or realities ordinary citizens cannot do much about, we are however empowered to work on our own beliefs and habits in seeking well-being and happiness even in chaotic contexts. Bad leaders have a limited shelf-life and should they do not survive - letâ€™s make sure we do!