As leaders, we should strive for a deep understanding of what makes our employees happy. I'm not suggesting that we should always aim to please; our goal is not for our employees to necessarily like us. However, we should strive to garner their respect and their commitment to a common goal(s). Having said that, if we are to motivate our employees effectively, we do need to understand what makes them happy. The Boston Globe had a great article yesterday about recent research on the relationship between happiness and money that is must reading for any leader. The article explains that many studies have affirmed the conventional wisdom that money does not buy happiness. However, more recent research has challenged this notion a bit. These studies show that how we spend our money matters. Here's an excerpt:
"A few researchers are looking again at whether happiness can be bought, and they are discovering that quite possibly it can - it’s just that some strategies are a lot better than others. Taking a friend to lunch, it turns out, makes us happier than buying a new outfit. Splurging on a vacation makes us happy in a way that splurging on a car may not... The problem isn’t money, it’s us. For deep-seated psychological reasons, when it comes to spending money, we tend to value goods over experiences, ourselves over others, things over people."
The articles goes into considerable depth on these issues, drawing on a stream of research by Elizabeth Dunn, Michael Norton, and Sonja Lyubomirsky. I highly recommend this piece by Boston Globe writer Drake Bennett.