Ways to find more meaning in your work (and life) and make the most of your career

This article is based on knowledge insights by Josep F. Mària

What sets great leaders apart from other managers? Esade Associate Professor Josep F. Mària reveals some of the qualities that make a great leader in his book Getting to the heart of things. The publication is a collection of tips that can help leaders – and anyone else interested in self knowledge – to find more meaning in their work and in their professional careers.

"Deep down, everyone wants to find the meaning to life. Life can bring brief moments of happiness, something it can be dull and repetitive and may even seem to lack meaning altogether during rough patches," says Mària.

"The book aims to help people to find more meaning in their lives by revealing clues and encouraging open questions that can trigger awareness and positive change within."

What are some of the leadership qualities that separate great leaders from bad ones? According to the author, successful leaders embrace the following six qualities:

1.    Self-demanding attitude

A self-demanding attitude is good for getting results but it can also create frustration, dissatisfaction and unhappiness. A great leader is aware of this risk and knows how to balance her demands and reformulate her purpose and lifestyle.

2. Learning from failure

Great leaders accept failure. They know how to ask themselves the right questions about what triggered their failure and how to use that mistake as a learning opportunity.

Great leaders know how to use their mistakes as learning opportunities

3. Authenticity

Children are the greatest example of authenticity because they do not wear a mask. As we grow older, wearing a mask becomes something of a social requirement. Good leaders know when they can take their masks off and see both their best and worst traits.

4. Acceptance

When something bad happens to us, we tend to fall prey to negative emotions. Great leaders know how to deal with these negative thoughts and accept them, thus avoiding frustration and anger.

5. Empathy

Putting yourself in other people's shoes can be emotionally exhausting. Great leaders empathise with others yet they also know how to separate themselves from others' emotions. Basically, one cannot help others if one succumbs to their negative thoughts.

6. Take the long view

If you were about to die, would you be happy about what you have done in life or would you have regrets? To achieve happiness both at work and in life, try to imagine you are 90 years old and how you would like to have lived, then live accordingly.

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