A successful acquisition, an employee excelling make CEOs happy

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Spending time with employees can make CEOs happy. (Getty Images)

What brings a smile to a CEO’s face? It ranges from a successful acquisition to an employee excelling. Seeing a product hit the shelves or making this quarter’s numbers can also go into the mix. One thing is sure, smiles are needed in the uber-competitive environment of business, and CEOs can use a little levity.

“What makes me happy is being profitable so that I can keep employing the great people who work for me because they deserve it and they have families to feed and goals they want to pursue,” said Andy Curry, CEO of Lamar Building Material Supply. “I do like spending time with them to hear how their lives are going because they are valuable to me and they feel like the boss actually cares about their well-being, which I do.” 

Another fulfillment “is when my marketing campaigns work well to bring customers in to buy,” Curry said. “That's a great feeling because of the effort and thought it takes to make it work.”

Caren Kenney, head, Premier Executive Leadership, Johnson & Johnson Human Performance Institute, feels “today’s CEOs face a business climate that is growing more competitive, complex and uncertain. The challenges require physical well-being to match the 24/7 pace of the CEO lifestyle of nonstop meetings, travel, and an erratic schedule, on top of the mental and emotional stress resulting from intense scrutiny and demands from shareholders, boards, and the media for immediate results. In light of these pressures, a CEO may be hard pressed to find happiness in the job.”

In order to “remain fulfilled both at work and at home, leaders should identify an intrinsic motivator and connect to a personal purpose that transcends themselves and their roles and is in service of the ultimate legacy they wish to create,” Kenney said. “When this purpose is focused on a stronger connection with and/or the betterment of others, it drives higher levels of happiness and fulfillment. As a result, leaders should make an intentional investment in their physical, mental, and emotional health. When fully present and engaged in the moments that matter, CEOs are better prepared to perform at their best and achieve satisfaction in all areas of their lives.”

"In order for a CEO to be successful and happy, he/she needs to focus on both the numbers and their employees’ happiness,” said Drew Gerber, CEO of Wasabi Publicity. “I personally subscribe to the school of thought that if my staff are happy and fulfilled, that will be reflected in the numbers. At the end of the day, that's what makes me happy."

For Chris McNabb, CEO of Dell Boomi, “It’s all about customer success. It’s about making a positive impact for as many businesses and people as possible, and being a part of their great stories. I’m not a sit-behind-the-desk kind of CEO. I’m constantly on the road meeting with customers and partners because there’s no better way to learn about their business and how we can help them be successful. So, I hear a lot of these stories firsthand. When a customer says to me ‘With Boomi, we’re saving time and money and our team has never been more efficient,’ that’s extremely gratifying.”

“I take a lot of pride in knowing that we have helped business customers change their trajectory and gain a competitive advantage in their markets,” McNabb said. “That number is growing fast. People are choosing us—and trusting us—to be a part of their success.  There’s nothing quite as fulfilling as that.”

David Okuniev, joint CEO of Typeform, says, “Seeing our product evolve according the vision we set is one of the most rewarding parts of the job. In particular, launching the new version of Typeform earlier this year was a big milestone for me personally, as I saw ideas that I’d originally developed years ago finally come to fruition. At the same time, such a big update ended up taking quite a while to get released—which means in a way I’m just as excited to see which smaller updates the team can deliver in the coming months now it’s done.”

“For me, I'm happiest when I can help my employees grow and become more successful in their roles,” said Jon Lee, CEO of ProsperWorks. “Mentoring young employees and sharing the lessons I've learned from my own career gives me great satisfaction to feel like I'm making an impact in their lives and a greater difference in the world.”