Among the many approaches people employ to both understand and acquire success and happiness, the leader role is often a focus. This occurs mainly because it is ordinary to equate success with happiness; the effective leader retains a form of power, the advantages ensuing from it, and it follows for many that happiness is generated by these advantages. Nonetheless, this is at best a superficial idea of happiness. With Rand, for example, there is a foundation of egoism or self-interest in play, in that her concepts of happiness rely on the individual’s focus on what most gratifies them (Christians, Merrill, 2013, p. 87). This would appear to address both success and happiness for a leader, as pursuing self-interest, or a determination to confidently follow one’s core motivations, is frequently seen as a trait of leadership and one that commands admiration. The concept, however, is deceptive, an it ignores any fundamental idea of doing good as ultimately creating authentic happiness.

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Today’s society, so globalized and consequently so conducive to personal opportunity, exacerbates the inherent deception. Happiness and success may very well co-exist, but only when “success” is defined as something other than the holding of power and/or the gaining of material benefits. Aristotle is by no means perfectly logical, but he does correctly reflect that something beyond human interest must be recognized if happiness is to be achieved. Happiness in Aristotle must inevitably follow the person’s adherence to living well, as in living in ways promoting virtue. This in turn relies on the soul as requiring the effort (McReynolds, 2004, p. 73).

This being the case, the non-leader, free from the need to pursue tangible goals of acquisition, is then better enabled to find success and happiness in the most profound ways. The exception to this is the servant leader, who sets the self aside and devotes attention to followers completely, and because genuine success and happiness are more promoted when there exists the knowledge that service to others provides the most meaningful rewards.

  • Christians, C. G., & Merrill, J. C. (2013). Ethical Communication: Moral Stances in Human Dialogue. Columbia, MO: University of Missouri Press.
  • McReynolds, K. (2004). Enhancing Our Way to Happiness?: Aristotle Versus Bacon on the Nature of True Happiness. Lanham, MD: University Press of America, Inc.