Book Review: The Chief Joy Officer in You

Chief Joy Officer

By Marie Splaine, Department of Commerce 

 Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared in the Department of Commerce’s Daily Digest for employees. The views and opinions expressed in submissions to the ICSEW’s InterAct blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the ICSEW.  

I have a goal to read a book a month even though I struggle to find time to read. So I thought outside my usual parameters and discovered audiobooks. Now I can listen in short spurts before and after I drop my daughter off at daycare.  

Even though I haven’t reached my book-a-month goal yet, I want to tell you about an inspiring book I’ve been listening to called Chief Joy Officer: How Leaders Can Elevate Human Energy and Eliminate Fear, by Richard Sheridan. (I wish my title were chief joy officer!) Sheridan is cofounder and CEO of Menlo Innovations, a custom software and design company.  

In his book, Sheridan talks about how joy is personal. He also goes says when a workplace ends fear-based leadership, culture shifts and employees start caring for one other.  

 So, what traits make for joyful leaders? According to Sheridan: 

  1. Authenticity: Bring your whole self to work. 
  2. Humility: Put others first without expecting rewards. 
  3. Love: Leadership is kind, and kindness is free. 
  4. Optimism: Optimism is a choice, and courage fuels it. 
  5. Visionary thinking: Have a vision at every level of the work team members do to strengthen communities. 
  6. Grounding in reality: Be a cultural custodian when in a leadership position. Ensure everything is taken care of so everyone else can do their best work.  
  7. Servant leadership: Focus on those you serve in your day-to-day work. 

 Sheridan says the best leaders strive to make a culture of ‘joyful leadership.’’ It allows workers to bring their whole selves to the job, which results in them doing their best work. 

 How do we build a culture of joyful leadership?  

  1. Start with purpose. An intentional culture is both established and evolving. 
  2. Value leaders, not bosses. Bosses command and leaders influence. 
  3. Pursue systems, not bureaucracy. (Yes, this can be challenging in government!) Start with the intention to improve systems, rather than seeking different people to put in the systems. 
  4. Care for the team. A culture of leadership invests in people. Care enough to let the team build the team.  
  5. Learn together, and seek role models. 
  6. Become storytellers. Stories are infectious and can draw in people.  
  7. Allow the culture to be bigger than yourself. It’s about other people.  

Reading this book made me think of a quote by former President John Quincy Adams: “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, you are a leader.”  

I challenge you to find ways to inspire others, dream more, learn more and develop the leader in yourself.