Leadership and Happiness Newsletter


Welcome to my second quarterly newsletter.

In the last newsletter, I dealt with the role that being altruistic/kind plays in effective leadership. I would like to stay with the leadership subject in this newsletter by providing a definition and model of leadership. I think it helps for a leader to be clear about what they think leadership is and how it is achieved. This is my definition and my model, perhaps you have better ones. If so, please send them on.

Leadership Defined

“Humans have an innate capability to dream, think, learn and, most importantly, ACT in a collective integrated manner to achieve almost anything they can conceive. Leadership is the act of enabling this capability.”

There are two things I want to point out about this definition. The first is the word “innate.” I think the reason we survived as a species is not that we were stronger than our adversaries, but that we could come together and collectively achieve what we could not alone (kill rather than be killed by the saber-toothed tiger). So, the ability to work together is innate, it is not something a leader has to drill into people, but that he/she must release, engage.

The second is the “the ability to achieve anything they can conceive.” I think when people have clear purpose and effective relationships, they can achieve incredible feats. Several years ago, a contest was held to see how fast a group could build a three-bedroom ranch style house, starting with a blank piece of land and having the house finished down to the appliances working, the walls painted, the landscaping done, etc. … including passing inspection. If you asked most contractors how long this would take, most would answer in months. The record? Two hours and 45 minutes. Don’t believe me, check it out on YouTube.

The point is this: if you get clear enough about you vision, clear enough about who does what (objectives, roles and responsibilities) and give people the proper resources (tools, materials, plans), teams really can achieve most anything they can conceive.

Leadership = Purpose & Relationships
It has dawned on me that leadership is really founded on only two things: purpose and relationships. An organization comes together to achieve some purpose or set of purposes and it has some complex web of relationships that enables (or doesn’t enable) the achievement of that purpose. Therefore, leadership consists of only these two-fundamental tasks: clarifying purpose and enhancing relationships.

Within that context of purpose and relationships, here is my model of leadership. It consists of four fundamental steps the first three dealing with purpose and the fourth dealing with relationships.

  1. Vision: Creating an inspiring picture of the organization’s future.
  2. Reality: Understanding and facing the reality that exists today.
  3. Pathways: Building the pathways including strategies, objectives, measures and resulting plans that lead from the reality to the vision.
  4. Culture: Creating the work environment that fosters involvement and engagement of everyone in the organization and enables trust, effective resolution of differences, commitment to purpose and effective teamwork throughout the organization.

OK, that is the definition and the model. Leadership is that simple … and that complex. I think the first three steps above are about 10% of the task of leadership and the culture/relationship piece is the other 90%. Getting everyone on the same page and moving together even with clear purpose, is the biggest challenge a leader faces. As they say: “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”

If you go to my website there is more on how to build this model for your leadership challenge. You can find it under “Presentations” and download it and print it out.

I hope each of you receiving this email are well. Any feedback is appreciated.

Be well … be joyful.

–Douglas. A. Smith


Leadership/Happiness Tip

Like leadership, the foundation of happiness is purpose and relationships. Find meaningful purpose(s), pursue it with passion and have healthy and enduring relationships. Your chances of being happy are 100 fold versus someone who doesn’t have both of these in their lives.

From the bookshelf!

Books I am reading and highly recommend.