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Chief Joy Officer

How Great Leaders Elevate Human Energy and Eliminate Fear

By Richard Sheridan
13-minute read
Audio available
Chief Joy Officer: How Great Leaders Elevate Human Energy and Eliminate Fear by Richard Sheridan

In Chief Joy Officer (2018), Richard Sheridan shares how he created a company culture built on joy. Sheridan’s book is packed with anecdotes from his own career and offers a clear guide to building a company with a purpose and a workplace that people can love.

  • Anyone who cares about well-being and joy in the workplace
  • Leaders and aspiring leaders who want to build a better workplace culture

Richard Sheridan is the founder of Menlo Innovations, a software design and consultancy firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan that has won multiple awards for its workplace culture. Sheridan and his firm host countless tours and visits from other companies and leaders who are keen to understand the secrets of Menlo’s success. He’s the author of the bestselling book, Joy, Inc.

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Chief Joy Officer

How Great Leaders Elevate Human Energy and Eliminate Fear

By Richard Sheridan
  • Read in 13 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 8 key ideas
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Chief Joy Officer: How Great Leaders Elevate Human Energy and Eliminate Fear by Richard Sheridan
Synopsis

In Chief Joy Officer (2018), Richard Sheridan shares how he created a company culture built on joy. Sheridan’s book is packed with anecdotes from his own career and offers a clear guide to building a company with a purpose and a workplace that people can love.

Key idea 1 of 8

Joyful leaders embrace authenticity and humility and encourage others to do the same.

Do you show your authentic self in the workplace? Or are office-you and home-you different people? Too many people feel unable to be their authentic selves in the workplace.

A local non-profit organization called Ele’s Place once visited Menlo, the author’s company, to share its story. Ele’s Place helps young people process grief after the loss of a family member. One of the exercises they run uses a white plastic mask, the kind you might see at a costume party. The teenagers are encouraged to write, on the outside of the mask, what emotions they shared with the world. Things like ‘I’m feeling better,’ or, ‘I’m hanging in there.’ But on the inside of the masks, the children would write how they really felt with sentences like ‘when will the hurt stop?’ or simply, ‘scared.’

When they shared their masks, they realized – often for the first time – that other people experienced the same feelings. The exercise allowed them to be authentic in a safe environment, and therefore to process their overwhelming emotions.

Sharing our true emotional state – the inside of our masks – in the workplace is hard, particularly for leaders who feel they should – like the hurting teenagers – put on a brave face and hide their vulnerabilities. Read the outside of a leader’s mask, and it might say words like ‘confident,’ ‘ambitious’ or ‘strong.’ But inside? Words like ‘stressed,’ ‘anxious’ and ‘overwhelmed’ might show up. And just like with the teenagers, perhaps they might take comfort in sharing their masks with their colleagues and fellow leaders.

It may be counterintuitive to embrace the vulnerabilities that come with true authenticity. The next important leadership value, humility, may also appear to go against good business practice. If your business is humble, won’t your more confident competitors trample all over you?

Well, for the author, humility is all about considering others and acknowledging that all work in a business is noble. That’s why the author often cleans up after client lunches. It’s why every morning, he empties the office dishwasher. If keeping things tidy is a behavior he wants to instill in his organization, he should be willing to follow through on that himself. As a result, he has a happy team, content in the knowledge that he’s humble enough to do anything that he might ask of them.

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