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Happiness is good, right? Researchers led by Steven Cole at the University of California at Los Angeles made a stunning discovery last year. They studied the gene expression profiles of people who experienced happiness from seeking pleasure and those who experienced happiness from seeking meaningful purpose in life. While both pleasure and purpose seekers reported experiencing happiness at a conscious level, the gene expression profiles of the two groups told a different story.

The profiles of the purpose seekers exhibited low levels of inflammatory gene expression and strong levels of antiviral and antibody genes. The pleasure seekers showed the opposite. Their profiles were consistent with people who are more likely to experience adverse health and premature death.

This new research is relevant to how we live our lives. People who seek purpose in their lives feel they make a difference. They experience greater energy and enthusiasm. They are more likely to give their best efforts and persevere through the inevitable challenges and difficult seasons in life that everyone experiences. (read more…)

SmartPulse — our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Leadership — tracks feedback from more than 190,000 business leaders. We run the poll question each week in our e-newsletter.

Last week, we asked: How frequently do you use storytelling to influence and lead people?

  • All the time — I’m constantly telling stories: 45.03%
  • Sometimes — I tell a story on occasion: 43.91%
  • Rarely — I’m not known for telling stories: 9.29%
  • Never — I don’t use stories at all to lead: 1.76%

Use the power of stories. Influencing and leading through stories is a tremendously powerful skill. While some may think storytelling is too much of an art or a soft skill, it’s actually a simple process and a skill you can readily build. Find examples of great stories and pay attention to how they’re crafted. The better you are at telling compelling stories, the more effective you’ll be as a leader. (read more…)

This post comes from Michigan State University and Bisk Education. Vijay Harkishnani works for Bisk Education and writes about topics such as leadership and management for Michigan State University’s Eli Broad College of Business.

From the outside, a leader and a manager might look like similar roles. They may even perform the same tasks, such as preparing budgets, overseeing teams, supervising projects and solving problems. But under closer observation, it becomes clear that leadership and management are not two different terms for the same thing. In fact, there are a number of distinctions that separate leaders from managers — and it’s much more than the title on the door.

Qualities of Managers vs. Qualities of Leaders

Perhaps the biggest difference between leaders and managers is that leaders have followers, while managers have subordinates. This distinction results from different approaches to work and relationships:

  • Managers are authoritative: Companies need managers to plan, organize and control business operations and the people hired to do the company’s work.
  • (read more…)

One of the most important hiring decisions companies make is who to put into leadership roles. How well does your company do on this critical task?

The Gallup organization reports that organizations make bad leadership hiring decisions 82% of the time (!).

Gallup’s research indicates that managers account for 70% of the variance in employee engagement. That huge impact on employee engagement translates into good or not so good performance, customer service, quality, profitability, and discretionary energy being applied to daily tasks.

The problem is that most companies have not defined what a “great boss” looks, acts, or sounds like. Without a set of “great boss” standards, companies put people into leadership roles who do not have demonstrated leadership or “people” skills.

Past individual accomplishment and technical expertise does not mean that the candidate will effectively manage and inspire others.

Gallup has found that great bosses have the following talents (demonstrated skills):

  • They motivate every single employee to take action and engage them with a compelling mission and vision.
  • (read more…)

Bill Hoogterp book coverWhether in conference rooms or as conference keynotes, we all have something to say. But if you’re overly focused on yourself, are a churning ball of nerves or simply lacking the tools to connect, according to communication and training pro Bill Hoogterp, you’re missing an opportunity to convey your message.

Hoogterp kicks off his public-speaking book “Your Perfect Presentation” with this nugget of wisdom: it’s not about you. “When you stop thinking it’s about you, that is when your greatness emerges.”

Here’s how:

Lower your filter

If you dislike public speaking, chances are good you spend a lot of time worrying about how you are perceived by others. Hoogterp says those worries — that you are not perceived as you might like — can become a self-fulfilling prophecy, rendering a speaker almost entirely ineffective on the metric that really matters: conveying a message.

“When we focus on ourselves, we create a barrier — a filter — between ourselves and the audience. (read more…)