I’ve had some bad bosses in my time and I’ve had some good ones too. But I have never worked anywhere where everyone was happy. It used to worry me but it doesn’t anymore. After all why should a place of work be any different than one’s family, club or church?  In all these groups there is always a blend of contented and discontented people. I don’t want to make you depressed because there really is no need to be. 

I have always maintained that a boss does not need to be liked by everyone, in fact there are advantages in it. What I do find important however, is that he or she is respected. Respect is the basis of a trusting relationship and trusting relationships can withstand enormous changes and pressures.  

In politics one can fairly easily pick out the ministers that are uncomfortable in towing the party line. Why should business be any different?  We have no military rules, no guns to our heads. Humans are amazingly resilient. We are all capable of putting up with much and for long, believing that even if what we have is not good it is might be better than the unknown.

Leadership is about understanding these things. It’s about accepting that good employees will come and go. That you cannot make everyone happy all of the time but only some of them for some of the time. It is about feeling comfortable standing in front of a group of trusted colleagues knowing that some of their smiles are a thin disguise from a deep feeling of unhappiness and disappointment.

So this week I was happy to hear news from a colleague on a new assignment. How alive he felt, how energized; such a change from the previous months.

So be content in the knowledge that when a dolphin smiles it does not mean it’s happy.  As leaders we must do whatever we can to create a happy working environment. There is nothing wrong in being brave enough to admit that from time to time adjustments are needed to re-gain the trust and contentment of those that may have unwittingly become dissatisfied and lost.

The real question is how does one know when a dolphin’s smile is real? I guess the obvious way is to ask it, you may not hear the truth but at least you tried!

Have a good week,

Harley