Redefining Leadership: Cultivating Happiness and Resilience in the Workplace

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Elia Gourgouris

Are you struggling to find happiness in the workplace?

Today’s discussion dives into transforming business cultures for lasting joy and success. Together with Dr. Elia Gourgouris we explore how redefining leadership through positive psychology can create environments that foster positivity and resilience. We explore actionable strategies to bridge the gap between traditional corporate expectations and the growing need for roles focused on well-being and engagement.

We confirm that integrating kindness into workplace practices can lead to a happier, more productive environment.

Key Points

  • Leadership and Positive Psychology: The integration of positive psychology in leadership is emphasized as essential for creating work environments that foster resilience, positivity, and productivity.
  • Kindness in Workplace Practices: Incorporating kindness into daily workplace operations is highlighted as a key factor in enhancing both the happiness and productivity of employees.
  • Role of Well-being in Corporate Structure: There is a significant focus on the importance of establishing roles dedicated to improving employee well-being and engagement, addressing the evolving needs of the modern workforce.
  • Cultural Backgrounds and Work Philosophy: The interview discusses how diverse cultural backgrounds influence one’s approach to happiness and positivity in the workplace, advocating for a global perspective in corporate culture.
  • Self-rebranding for Personal Empowerment: The concept of personal “rebranding” is discussed as a strategy for individuals to overcome negative self-perceptions from their past. This transformation is encouraged as a way to unlock potential and achieve greater personal and professional fulfillment.

More information about Dr Elia Gourgouris here.


Does your workplace feel stuck in a rut? Are silos and outdated leadership styles stifling creativity and collaboration?

At Management 3.0, we understand these frustrations. That’s why we offer tailor-made training programs designed not just to enhance skills but to transform entire organizational mindsets.

With our expert guidance, envision a workplace where barriers are broken down and everyone is empowered to contribute their best and leadership not only manages but motivates and inspires.

Ready to create a thriving workplace culture? Visit our website at and see how we can help your organization build a happier, more productive workplace. 



*Please note that the transcript has been automatically generated and proofread for mistakes. But remains in spoken English, and some syntax and grammar mistakes might remain.

Elisa Tuijnder: [00:00:00] Are you struggling to find happiness in the workplace? Today’s discussion dives into transforming business cultures for lasting joy and success. We explore how redefining leadership through positive psychology can create environments and outcomes. That foster positivity and resilience. We explore actionable strategies to bridge the gap between traditional corporate expectations and the growing [00:00:30] need for roles focused on wellbeing and engagement.

We confirm that integrating kindness into workplace practices can lead to a happier, more productive environment.

Before we dive in, you are listening to The Happiness At Work Podcast. 3. 0, where we are getting serious about happiness.[00:01:00]

I’m your host, Elissa Tavner, Happiness Enthusiast and Management 3. 0 team member. In this podcast, we share insights from industry experts, influencers, and thought leaders about what it takes to be happy, motivated, and productive at work. So that loving your job becomes the norm. And not the exception. We will be publishing every fortnight on Friday, so be sure to tune in and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.[00:01:30]

Today, we’re thrilled to have Dr. Elia Gorgoris with us, the president of the Happiness Center, author of the best selling seven paths to lasting happiness and co author of seven keys to navigating a crisis. Dr. Elia has dedicated his career to helping individuals and organizations achieve greater happiness.

Success and well being. Welcome to the show.

Elia Gourgouris: My pleasure. And I just love the name of your show, Happiness [00:02:00] at Work, because that’s what, that’s what it’s about. We spend so much time at work, so we might as well be happy, but miserable. So yes.

Elisa Tuijnder: Why would we? Yes, exactly. Hey, we’re excited to delve into your journey and, um, you know, understanding your expertise.

But first things first, we can’t start without asking, what does happiness mean to you?

Elia Gourgouris: I’m going to borrow a fellow Greek by the name, you may have heard of him, of Aristotle. Once or twice. The great Greek philosopher, because he said it so good, I can’t, I can’t improve on what he said 2, [00:02:30] 500 years ago. And this is really important.

He said, happiness is the whole purpose and meaning of life. The whole aim and end of human existence. Think about what he said. Starts and ends. That’s it. The whole purpose and meaning of life. I mean, that’s really what life is all about.

Elisa Tuijnder: It’s just that bit, right? Then it’s simple, but it’s also really hard at the same time.

And that’s kind of the beauty in this definition as well. You just mentioned it as well, and obviously [00:03:00] from your name, people could have maybe guessed that you, uh, that you grew up in Greece until the age of 10, and then you moved to Santa Monica, California. Uh, I really, I was wondering when I was reading that how that story influenced you, especially with what you do, uh, and knowing that, uh, the Greek culture of, at least the philosophers, but also the business culture between, uh, Greece and, and, and America is so different.

So how did that, you know, influence your, your thinking around this?

Elia Gourgouris: You know, it’s a big adjustment for a kid at 10 years old. We actually had a great life in [00:03:30] Greece, so it’s not the typical immigrants that come to to America. There were a lot of factors, but the primary factor is that my mom had cancer and, you know, they had lived in the United States before.

So in order to prolong their life, we moved to the United States. It was a big shift. It was not easy because like I said, we had great family in Greece and, you know, we just had a great life there. It was hard initially. But my dad, in his wisdom, he sat my brother and I down and he said the following. I remember that like it was yesterday.

He [00:04:00] said, listen, there are things in America that Greece is not going to get in a hundred years. Opportunities, you know, just what America had had to offer and has to offer. On the flip side, he said there are things in Greece that America is not gonna get in a thousand years. no, but meaning the quality of life, meaning, you know, just the joyfulness that happens, focus, the

Elisa Tuijnder: focus on the smaller things.


Elia Gourgouris: his comment was, so take the best of both worlds. [00:04:30] And for some reason, as a 10, 11-year-old kid, I downloaded that take the best of both worlds because no country’s perfect. No country has everything, but take the best of both worlds. And, you know, we grew up that way. And, uh, and now, you know, my wife is half German.

So we raised our kids to be world citizens. Not American, not Greek, but truly world citizens. And we travel a lot and we did travel a lot with our kids. And now, you know, they’re having their own kids and they’re starting to, to expand, do the same thing. So yeah, [00:05:00] world citizens, every country, every culture has beautiful and wonderful things.

It’s the best, you know, and as you’ll see, as we go through this interview, I’m overwhelmingly positive. We’ll talk about that later. So I always look for what’s good and what’s right. I focus on that consistently, both in my own personal life, but also with my clients and my corporate clients and so on. So that’s, you know, that’s the philosophy.

Take the best of wherever you are. And there is a lot of good everywhere.

Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah, it’s beautiful. And I think we should apply [00:05:30] that principle to our business. everywhere, but also in business. This is something that we try to preach a lot, like diversity is so important. Diversity, not just from the tick box exercise, not just from countries, but just different upbringings, different, different feelings of things, different, you know, learning styles, all of these kinds of things.

Bring that all in because like you just said, take all the good things from it and see the other perspectives and it gives you such more well roundedness, doesn’t it? I’m sorry to hear that you obviously that isn’t easy to move from, [00:06:00] from, from Greece. And then obviously your mom was having health difficulties.

So I can imagine that was a very tough time, but I hear this a lot from people who work in happiness that is sort of, they either have had a hard time growing up or had a hard time later and sort of go looking for it. Was that the same case with you or what drew you initially to positive psychology?

Elia Gourgouris: You know, I was kind of like born happy. I mean, there’s actually the day that I was born, there’s a, there’s a real story of what happened and I won’t, it’s a, it’s a great story, but I don’t know if I have enough time with that. [00:06:30] But basically, you know, when my dad showed up at the hospital back in the day in Greece, you know, and he asked the nurse, which one is my son?

There were like four or five little babies were all wrapped up in the same white generic blanket, you know, I guess back then I happened to be smiling. So the nurse says to my dad, your son, he goes, he’s the happy one. Brandon, the happy one. So growing up, I grew up with the idea, like, well, you came out of the womb happy.

Like you’re like, you know, regardless of, you know, the ups and downs and the adversities we face in life, I have [00:07:00] maintained that, but here’s the funny thing, for 25 years, now I’m in graduate school and we had a professor that was talking to us about nature versus nurture. In other words, is it our environment that makes us who we are, or is it a genetic predisposition that we have towards certain things?

And the truth of the matter is that it’s both. But I had this like strange thought, I’m like, Wait a minute, what if my dad got stuck in traffic? What if he showed up like half an hour late, he comes up to the same nurse, asks the same question, and at that moment, Me as a little [00:07:30] baby, I’m squeezing my head off.

And the nurse turns to my dad and goes, your son, he’s the cranky one. The story that’s told growing up is, well, you came out of the womb cranky, you miserable little baby, you know,

Elisa Tuijnder: and

Elia Gourgouris: what I’ve discovered in working with people both at the first half of my career as a clinical psychologist, but also as a coach and as an executive coach is that all of us have had some kind of branding early on in our lives.

It typically happens within the confines of our homes, most likely. [00:08:00] Brands are positive. Obviously the happiness, the happiness brand is a great brand to have, but there are other ones, the beautiful one, the athletic one, the artistic one, the creative one, the sweet one, the kind one, the loving one. These are all great brands.

Unfortunately, Elisa, and I, and I’ve interviewed and I’ve worked with thousands and thousands of people. Most people have not had positive brands growing up and they have very negative brands. And as sad as this may sound, and it’s horrific actually, the [00:08:30] three most common ones, it’s the fat one, the ugly one, and the stupid one.

Elisa Tuijnder: Now

Elia Gourgouris: imagine if, if, if somebody grew up with those kinds of brands, what impact that has on their happiness. It’s

Elisa Tuijnder: very hard. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I’ve really been following some of that research on, on, on how important it is, and even if you are a middle child or like, there seems to be a lot more impact from the small things even.

You know, it’s very, if it’s, if you were blatantly abuse, that is a very big problem, obviously. Um, [00:09:00] but you can kind of, sort of more easily sort of identify it and, and sort of address it and, but there’s so many more unconscious things that happen continuously or things that parents are just not aware of and, and that that duties.

Thinking about our lives and they sort of uncovering them is a very interesting science that I wish I had more time to read about. Once

Elia Gourgouris: you understand, once you understand and getting in touch with your own brand, then you have the opportunity to change that. So I am part of the audience. So several years ago, I, [00:09:30] I shared this story, it was a women’s conference.

There were about 500 women. And as I’m sharing the story, the call to action, of course, if you don’t like your brand, change it as an adult. Now you don’t have to stick with that brand. And out of the corner of my head, this older lady, like in her 70s, gray hair stands up and starts kind of waving at her arms, which kind of threw me off.

I mean, you know, I’m doing my keynote here and I’m like, I can’t, I can’t ignore it because everybody’s looking at her and they’re looking at me. At some point I stopped, I’m like, yes, ma’am, because you know, if they’re listening to you, I grew up in some rural [00:10:00] place here, you know, in America or whatever.

And I was told all three of those things growing up. I’m fat, I’m ugly, I’m stupid. And then some expletives, some bad words on top of that. And you know, the room got so quiet, Elisa, like you could hear a pin drop. We got so quiet. It was kind of uncomfortable. And her name was Leah, by the way. I remember her name was Leah.

Yeah. And I’m like, well, after listening to you, I want to change my brand. And I’m like, okay, ma’am. I mean, What, what, what would you like your new [00:10:30] brand to be? He goes, well, from now on I wanna be known as Princess Leah. Kind of like a Star Wars thing going on. Like Princess Leah. Yeah. Yeah. So of course I’m like, yes, you’re a majesty.

So I bowed down, you know, I’m up in the podium and you know, a very tense situation. People started to laugh and laugh and laugh. It became very lighthearted and we moved on a little bit. The reason why I’m sharing this story with you and your audience is why? Because if a woman in her seventies who for seven decades.

Negative inner [00:11:00] critic, that’s tape. You’re stupid, you’re fat, you’re ugly. Someone can be empowered to change her brand at that age. Then anybody else can do it. That’s the reason why I’m sharing the story. That’s the whole point of it is. If you don’t like your brand, choose a different brand as an adult now.

Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah, and the first step for that is awareness, knowing what your brand is, obviously, and then covering that and then guiding it to the place you need to go.

Elia Gourgouris: Your personal brand, what is your brand? Absolutely,

Elisa Tuijnder: and there’s so much around personal brand, right? Now people, [00:11:30] yeah, it’s not just buzzwords, it’s also what it is, and it’s what we’ve evolved into, but it is important and very, to understand it and to work with it as well.

So you’re, you’re the founder of the Happiness Center and you’ve become a leading organization in positive psychology. So what’s that? You went to school, you did all these things and then, you know, let’s do this. Or how does that evolve over the years and, and, and what is the main focus at the moment so our listeners can understand that as well?

Elia Gourgouris: The way that it evolved. So I spent the first half of my career as a clinical psychologist in private practice, [00:12:00] loved it, did it for 18 years, loved the first 16, then suffered from burnout myself. You know, I, I love psychology too often. I think the focus is on the diagnosis, the focus is on the trauma, the and, and not that it doesn’t need to be, I feel very, like, boxed in in a lot of ways because I’m like, you know what?

My focus is more on, on someone’s greatest potential, [00:12:30] and I feel like I’ve been given a gift, you know, gift from above. Happy one. No, no, no, no. Not that one. What’s best in somebody is the ability to see their potential before they can see it in themselves. And then help them and coach them to pull that out of them.

So they can, because you can initially, you know, people will come to me, they’re pretty down, depressed, anxious, low self worth, low self esteem. You know, I work with a lot of addicts who are like, Hey, my name is, you know, John and I’m an addict. And I’m like, [00:13:00] John, you’re so much more than an addict. That’s not, you’re not just an addict.

You’re a father, you’re a husband, you’re a friend, you have a, your professional degree. And yes, you struggle with an addiction. I’m not minimizing that, but you’re so much more than that. And so sometimes you need to have somebody from the outside, see the positive in somebody else. And then through your work, I mean, they do the work.

I just hold them accountable. In essence, I give them the tools, hold them accountable. They do the work and then they rise up to their fullest potential. And that’s what I like about positive psychology because [00:13:30] the focus is on improvement. The focus is on growth. The focus is on transformation, not necessarily the diagnosis of somebody, you know what I mean?

Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. And there is a space and time for that. And thank you for saying I’m an addict. It’s always annoyed me when, when, when people say that or, you know, when it comes up in movies, I’m like, no, they’re more than that. Anyway, so yeah, thank you for saying that. It was a very validating point for me screaming at the TV a lot of the time.

Elia Gourgouris: Yeah, and, and, you [00:14:00] know, I did my dissertation was on Alcoholics Anonymous. So as a non alcoholic, I actually, it was amazing back in the day that I was able to get access to AA, because it’s anonymous, obviously, and that’s what I did my study. And just hearing over and over again, every day, my name is so and so.

I’m an alcoholic. I’m like, man, you’re so much more than that. Yes, you struggle with alcoholism. No question about it. And it’s debilitating. I’m not, I’m not minimizing that a bit, but you’re a human being. I’m a human, you know, I look at the big picture and I’ve always looked at the big picture, you know, you pull back the lens.[00:14:30]

You have so much potential. And then to see people achieve that is to me, it’s like, that’s the reward. Right. Yeah. People personally, I have a big heart. I love big. And to see people achieve their highest potential is so rewarding. I can’t even tell you how rewarding it is. It

Elisa Tuijnder: really is. So you’re very much in the right profession.

You’ve also, we are Happiness at Work and that’s also something that you, that you look at and we actually just said, so they’re doing the work, you’re just guiding them. Happiness is an individual choice and also in business, we have [00:15:00] to guide people. So how can organizations create. These, these positive working environs that will lead to, to happier employees in the end, what can they do there from your expertise?

Elia Gourgouris: So I’m gonna go back to the happiness question before about that. So, when I left Psychology, I, I created the Happiness Center and I, and I started doing that. And so, you know, I had never been in the corporate world before. I didn’t know anything like then I, and that was like 20 years ago. So, but I was hired by a consultant friend of mine who’s like.

Man, you got great skills. You’d make a great [00:15:30] executive coach. I didn’t even know what an executive coach was, you know, but you know, high EIA communication skills and so on. I would go and work with senior, senior executives. Now this is before all the Harvard studies, the Forbes studies, all the studies on happiness at work.

So this was before, and I used to say, say that to, to the CEOs about the importance of happy employees, the importance of, if they were like, You know, Dr. Ely, you’re really a nice guy. We like you. You don’t know what the hell you’re talking about. I pay these people to go to [00:16:00] work and I get to work. That’s what they would tell me.

And I’m like, no, you’re getting the money. Some of them still do. And that was 20 years ago. So yeah, it’s getting better, but unfortunately far too many people in organizations, especially leaders, don’t quite grasp the benefit and the benefits of happiness and engagement in our work are so many. And we need to go down the list for people are listening.

If you’re a leader here, the [00:16:30] lowest hanging fruit, number one is first of all, happy employees are physically healthier. In other words, they don’t miss work because they’re happy. They practice self care. There’s no turnover that way. They don’t get sick. They’re, they’re a mish work. So that’s number one.

And if you measure that in terms of the bottom line financially, it’s huge when you have people actually show up. It’s

Elisa Tuijnder: good for people. It’s good for the bottom line.

Elia Gourgouris: I know, but nobody even brings that up actually when they think about it. The other thing is, happy employees are more engaged, [00:17:00] there’s greater retention, there’s less turnover.

All of these things cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not millions. They’re better teammates. And people have said, well, now, why do you say that? Why are you saying that happy employees are better teammates? Because if I take care of myself and my own batteries are full, then I can extend a hand to somebody that I can see they’re kind of struggling today.

And say, well,

Elisa Tuijnder: everyone’s on burnout then.

Elia Gourgouris: Exactly right. Happy [00:17:30] employees are more, uh, I think they’re also more creative.

Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah. They’re more innovative. There’s lots of studies around there. Yeah.

Elia Gourgouris: They’re great recruiters, meaning that because they like where they are and they like the company. They go out then and recruit other great talent to come to this company because they’re happy in this company.

It’s not the marketing team or the sales team. It’s them saying, you know, Lisa, you should come work in this company. It’s a great culture.

Elisa Tuijnder: They’re more accountable. There’s like, it’s basically good. And this is what I often say with happiness at work. It actually encompasses all [00:18:00] areas of the business and it is from bottom and from top down.

Like, so, you know, all of it leads into the happiness, but also the happiness will trickle down to the last, to the bottom layers. No doubt. Everything.

Elia Gourgouris: Yeah. They’re more productive. And as a result, make the company and the organization more profitable. So it’s all tied together. It’s exactly what you just said.

It covers everything. So who wouldn’t want to do that?

Elisa Tuijnder: And so you really segue to, to perfectly to my next question. So I’ve been, I’ve actually been working on a blog on why it is, I’m trying to [00:18:30] figure out why happiness is not yet fully ingrained in business culture. You said we have All these benefits, we know of all these benefits, positive psychology has been here for, for some time.

Uh, there’s all these studies, the recent study from Harvard, and indeed, again, says it’s, it’s not just good for your people. It is good for the bottom line, it’s really good for your bottom line. And yet still, I didn’t, you know, if you do a search for, for job roles or anything like that, yes, there are happiness.

Facilitators are our happiness, chief happiness officers that they [00:19:00] exist, right? But it’s not actually ingrained as in, in the lingo, in the jargon. They say that’s when I see what we do see is engagement officers. What we do see is wellbeing coordinators, all these kinds of things, but that word happiness is still struggling.

Is that, you know, because it’s so far out there and it’s a language thing, is it because it’s a subjective term? Is it, you know, there’s so many options here, but I, I, maybe you have a, already some, some, some answers for me.

Elia Gourgouris: You know, I think it’s all of it. And I think they, they see happiness as something that is a very, very, [00:19:30] very soft thing where engagement is like, Oh, we want to have our employees to be engaged.

So that’s a little bit more business savvy, if you will. Yeah. And it’s fully connected that happiness at work is actually, first of all, it’s doable. The benefits are, I mean, we already mentioned all the benefits and they’re actually more, um, but I think it has to start from the top. If, if the C suite, you know, if the CEO or the business owner or the [00:20:00] entrepreneur or whatever, doesn’t have that as a mindset, it actually, I believe mindset action is not enough.

I always talk about mindset is important to have a positive mindset. And even more important is where’s your heart set? Your heart, where’s your heart at? Do you know your employees? And if you truly have a chief happiness officer who only focuses on people, they know each employee, they know their hearts and so on.

We’re getting [00:20:30] there. I see progress, but it’s still slow. It’s way too slow. It’s much slower than it should be because this to me is a no brainer for you and I. This is like, what the heck,

Elisa Tuijnder: why aren’t you doing this? From a business, from an objective business point of view, and there we lead into another thing I guess as well, where, where, where, you know, the bringing people back to work and always in the office, there’s, you know, that, that, although we know that is not good for our employees, we know giving them trust is also good, that also should also be a good business sense.

Yet we [00:21:00] still can’t seem to culturally to get loose from this idea that we need to either micromanager, keep an eye on our, on our employees. And that’s the sort of the same with happiness. I think we see, yeah, okay. Maybe if we have time for it down the line, but now we have to focus on the short term. Uh, and I think maybe there’s, obviously there’s a con, nothing is black and white, um, but there’s probably a connection there as well.

Elia Gourgouris: Although with the pandemic, as you know, the, the workforce has really changed significantly. And I don’t think we’re going back. Um, you know, the pension want everyone, [00:21:30] you want everybody at work so you can see them and control them or micromanage them, which basically. To me, you know what micromanagement is?

Lack of trust.

Elisa Tuijnder: Exactly. Yeah, same thing. Yep.

Elia Gourgouris: That’s it. Yeah.

Elisa Tuijnder: So,

Elia Gourgouris: on the other hand, if you’re just working remotely all the time, I think sometimes it can be lonely. I mean, we have a loneliness epidemic in the world. Mm hmm. So, it’s not gonna Many of us. If we can have some kind of hybrid where you go into work, go into the office, connect with people, because there’s nothing can [00:22:00] replace connecting with people in real time.

Like actual people, you know, on the other hand, people like to have the flexibility, uh, you know, less traffic hours

Elisa Tuijnder: over their own time,

Elia Gourgouris: of course. So, and if you trust your employees and hopefully you’re creating a culture of trust in your company, I think there’s a hybrid way to do it where everybody wins.

All of that, you know, people used to pay Stephen Covey’s book, win, win. Here’s the first one that introduced me to win. I take it for them that I go win, win, win, win. [00:22:30] And they’re like, well, what are the other two wins? So you win. I win, we win, collectively, you and I win, and then our customers or the audience or people who are watching this also win because they’re seeing how this collaborativeness really works.

Yeah. So, in some ways, everybody wins when you do something like that. Yeah, but you have to have trust.

Elisa Tuijnder: Absolutely. And, you know, changing of these business cultures, it doesn’t, it’s not easy, right? And actually in the grand scheme of things, they are going fast, right? We’re only talking about [00:23:00] the last since the 50s, 40s, whatever, like in, in the grand scheme of, of the time we’ve already had, uh, in place that is not very long, but sometimes people like us who really understand the value of it.

Also from a business perspective, you’re just like, what, what, why, why is this not moving forward? And then my related question here to you would be, sometimes I have the feeling that I am in an echo chamber and that I only talk to people who get it, which is great, but I know I need to also, if I actually want to make an impact, I also need to go to these companies.[00:23:30]

I heard an interview with a CEO from Goldman Sachs the other day and he was very. 70s almost to me, like everyone back in the office and this and that and like, not just that it’s all about the office. How can we reach some of these organizations that are so entrenched in these uninspiring cultures, in these cultures where it’s just the way it is, we don’t want to see anything else.

How do we get to that?

Elia Gourgouris: First of all, the other thing about happy people and happy employees and even happy organizations is the word flexibility, which is different [00:24:00] than resilience. So flexible people, flexible cultures thrive. Okay. Um, so part of it is, is to, part of it is an education thing, honestly, what the conversation you and I are having right now, these are the benefits.

This has been proven. Look at the Harvard studies, look at the Caltech, look at

Elisa Tuijnder: all this,

Elia Gourgouris: yeah. This isn’t just, you know, Elise and Ilya just being happy and talking about happiness and all that stuff. It’s now, now we have the [00:24:30] data to prove that. Absolutely. I read an article a while back For Arianna Huffington, uh, happy, happy leaders equals happy team.

Yeah. And people like, because it does start from the top, but happiness is a choice, but it’s also a skill set. It takes work. It’s not, you know, for some people it might come easier, but for the most, most people actually, happiness takes work, takes investment of time and resources and so on, but the benefits are [00:25:00] worth it.

Elisa Tuijnder: Absolutely. This was where, where also the companies come in, right? You know, make space for it. Yes. We say happiness is a choice and that’s easy. It’s easier said than done, right? You know, people come with, with baggages and all these kinds of things, but give them the space to allow, to, to, to, to get those tools and, and, and understand, How to get to a happier place because you’re gonna have a better employee.

It’s basically investing in, in your resources, right? It’s like updating, updating your, your workforce in, into a better, [00:25:30] better machine. But that sounds a bit derogatory, but you know, but I mean, the, the people are with that feel better, will also work better. And again, that’s for, that’s also good for your bottom line.

It’s not only ethical, but super good for that. And organization

Elia Gourgouris: have like values and mission statements written on the walls. You pass it by. I’m like, are you living them?

Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah, exactly. So important.

Elia Gourgouris: Who cares what do you have on the wall? If you’re not living it.

Elisa Tuijnder: How many aha moments have you experienced just [00:26:00] now listening to this episode?

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Elia Gourgouris: So a lot of times they bring me in and my partner Coach Khan actually for cultural [00:27:00] transformation, you know, and he’s the engagement expert. I’m the happiness expert. So we go in and You know, and, and, and help them to achieve that and turn their cultures around.

You just have to have a leader that actually believes in what you’re saying and gives you the green light and says, go do it. You have my green light. If anybody gets in their way, tell them to talk to me. And that’s the CEO. That’s how you change culture. It has to start at the top.

Elisa Tuijnder: I’ve been in as consultant into companies that were like, okay, we’re not going to be people first culture.

like from date from [00:27:30] tomorrow. But actually what they were doing is they were just sort of reacting to what they were hearing around them. And it was going to be good. It’s almost like a form of greenwashing or, you know, that also happens, which is even worse for me. Cause like, if you are going to be evil, tell that you’re going to be evil or evil is a big word.

But you know, if you’re all about that, you tell people that you’re about that. But when you’re going to do something in the between where you’re like, no, we’re all about people. And then actually. You just have a few words on the wall that you don’t live by. That’s even, even worse.

Elia Gourgouris: By the way, you can see that, yeah, I’ve walked, you walked into toxic [00:28:00] environments and toxic.

You feel it immediately, right? Immediately. You feel it immediately. Yes. Yeah.

Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah. Sometimes I even see it

Elia Gourgouris: through. Then that’s, that can’t possibly be the outcome because your people are miserable. People are leaving left and right. You’re losing great talent. You’re bleeding right down, which is costing you, you know, like I said, hundreds, if not millions of euros or dollars or whatever.

So I hear, but I hear the music behind the music, you know?

Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. I even, I was reviewing some blog article I’m working on, reviewing like a number [00:28:30] of, uh, of job descriptions and you can immediately already, like sometimes the words. are literally what you would think they would be. But you immediately already know that, like reading between the lines or, or going into different directions, they’re just paying lip service to, to what it is.

So people, hopefully when people see that as well, and that they know what the culture actually is, and that they’re not being misrepresented.

Elia Gourgouris: And you know what you said, I agree about, uh, don’t give lip service. If you’re, if you’re not really, if your heart is really not into it, [00:29:00] don’t even try it because you’re raising people’s expectations that maybe things finally But if it’s just superficial, and things are not really going to change, then your folks are going to be even more disappointed.

You’re going to have more people jump into it.

Elisa Tuijnder: Exactly. It does the complete opposite. And I have said this before to companies who were asking us, like, guys, if you’re not willing to do all of this, I think you can just do like a coffee. You know, the pizza Fridays that have become such a thing in the sense that they don’t work.

They do the opposite. They literally do the opposite. That’s not [00:29:30] enough.

Elia Gourgouris: That’s superficial. That doesn’t work.

Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah. You talk a little about positive leadership as well. And I wanted you to kind of explain in your own words what you mean by positive leadership and sort of how it differs from, from other styles of leadership that we might talk about in a happiness context, like servant leadership or authentic leadership, those, what constitutes positive leadership.

Elia Gourgouris: And, and by the way, servant leadership obviously is wonderful. You know, when you have a servant, and I’ve been around great leaders that actually walk the talk. They’re not, it’s not lip service, but they actually do it. It’s wonderful to see and witness. Yeah. [00:30:00] You know, obviously authentic leadership, you know, just really be who you are.

Don’t pretend to be somebody else. But positive leadership is somebody who has a relentless pursuit. That’s not for happiness, but, and the message that goes from the very top is like, we will figure this out. We’re all in this together. They always believe in a positive outcome, even when there’s adversity.

You know, and I claim that we’re all graduates from the university of adversity, all of us, [00:30:30] you know, individually or organizationally, but a, a leader that believes in the end, we’re going to figure this out. And it exudes that kind of confidence. And even when there’s setbacks, you know, these are leaders that typically actually celebrate so called failures within the organization.

They actually have a celebration. And I was taught that by, I was in a company with a young guy. He was in his thirties. It’s he said, you know, every Friday we get together and we celebrate failures. I had never heard that before. [00:31:00] What, what do you mean? Yeah, we literally get together as a team and we say, okay Exactly and Because if you’re afraid of failure, you’re going to stifle innovation.

You’re going to stifle creativity. People are going to be afraid to take risks Now, obviously you don’t want to make the same mistake over and over again. That’s different. His point was celebrate failures Things that didn’t work out, let’s learn from it and let’s move on. People loved working for him.

They loved working for him.

Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah. And do it often and do it [00:31:30] publicly. That’s, that’s great.

Elia Gourgouris: So that’s kind of like the positive leadership. I think in today’s world, it’s that we’re living in a world with such competition alongside with servant leadership and authentic leadership.

Elisa Tuijnder: You

Elia Gourgouris: gotta have it.

Elisa Tuijnder: The importance of transparency and open communication here is probably paramount because you know, you don’t believe if people are hiding something from you or you’re never going to have that positive leadership.

You’re never going to believe that even if it is bad. Uh, you’re, you’re, you’re not going to really trust what they’re saying. That’s outside that information, but it’s on the [00:32:00] inside. So I’m assuming that that’s one of the key elements of this.

Elia Gourgouris: Well, funny cause I literally flew in from Seattle, uh, yesterday and I, with a new corporate, uh, corporate client.

And one of the things that I talked to him about is like, before we get started, I said, listen, in here with me, we’re going to practice hot communication. They’re like, what’s that? I’m like, honest, open, and transparent. And everything that will take place in the next, over the next two days is going to be based on that.

And I said, now there’s two ways to do that. [00:32:30] One of them is, the ideal way is to be honest, open, and transparent, and do it from a place of kindness. A place of love, even. Or You can take a two by four stick and say, well, I’m just being brutally honest with you and clobber somebody over the head when you give them feedback.

I said, that doesn’t work because you shut people down. So if we can have that hot communication in leadership, and this was the president of the company with one of her, one of his executives, we just need to do it in a way that’s loving, that’s caring, [00:33:00] still speak the truth, still be transparent and open as a leader.

But you can do it with times. And that’s how I approached it. And that’s how we did it actually. And it was a great, we had a great couple of days there.

Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah, that’s fantastic. I, I, it reminded me of a story that got me interested in, you know, or highlighted, I was already interested in it, but highlighted sort of the importance of like sort of meeting design.

Uh, just what you just said, like there was a merger at a company and they basically got all the, he was thinking about how do I do this? How do I talk to them? And thinking like, [00:33:30] okay, I’m going, I can stand on a podium in the lights and then everyone is over there. Then I’m already making the new divide and sort of thinking about all of these things together.

can be very, very powerful, but always, you know, hot, like you said, and then just thinking about how you come across to people and how does the setup that you’re talking to people and in these respects are becoming more and more important.

Elia Gourgouris: And you’re also modeling the behavior. Like I model the behavior.

I’m like, there are no secrets here. You know, well, there’s no gossip. There’s nothing. We’re going to be open. We’re going to be transparent. [00:34:00] We’re going to be honest with one another. We have some difficult issues here. In some difficult relationships and you know, a lot of the corporate world, there’s a lot of toxicity, so you have a lot of toxic relationships.

So part of that is like, okay, well, let’s, let’s deal with that. But you can’t deal with it if you’re not speaking the truth.

Elisa Tuijnder: You know, if other people don’t know what the problem is either, right? And then it’s

Elia Gourgouris: just,

Elisa Tuijnder: it’s hard, it’s easier said than done. It’s an incredibly hard thing to do, but live by it and do it, because if it starts blurring the lines, then it’s going completely the wrong way.

So we were [00:34:30] just talking about, you know, prices and big mergers or whatever. That was my example. But you wrote a book on it as well. After your first one, you wrote Seven Keys to Navigating a Crisis. And which also gives practical advice to dealing with sort of these disruptions. Give us one or two practical examples here of what you gave in the book.

Elia Gourgouris: Initially, that book was written for the pandemic. It was the first book in the world written with my, my partner, Coach Khan, and I, we got it out in May of 2020. So it was the first book. Yeah,

Elisa Tuijnder: that’s a fast writing.

Elia Gourgouris: [00:35:00] Initially, we actually wrote the book to help the everyday person. That was our initial, I could feel and I, and I sensed that there’s going to be a mental health crisis globally, like a tsunami as a result of the pandemic.

So that’s when we got the book out. What we didn’t anticipate, however, is like a month into it after the book came out, it was launched and we’re doing all kinds of, you know, TV, radio interviews and online and so on, is that companies started reaching out to us. Yeah. And I kid you not, Bank of America reached out, you know.

Yeah. Yeah. From New York. [00:35:30] Now, in the United States, New York was ground zero at first. That was the first city that really suffered a lot. And they reached out and said, listen, we have about a thousand employees in New York City. Now they’re all working remote. And this was like two or three months into the pandemic.

And they’re struggling from post traumatic stress, depression, anxiety. Some of them have lost loved ones. Some of them have gotten sick themselves. They’re isolated and lonely. And the lady, the VP said, we don’t know what to do with them. [00:36:00] So can you speak to, you know, how do you navigate? So I couldn’t fly to New York and everything was shut down.

I did it online. And, uh, you know, I did my thing that I normally do, but afterwards it resonated such a degree at least that afterwards he says, you know what, we’re going to make this available to 200, 000 employees of Bank of America. So the couple of things, how do you navigate? And it isn’t just crisis.

We may not be in a crisis, but in a challenge because the crisis has passed that crisis anyway, [00:36:30] but the challenges exist. What I would say first and foremost is to practice massive self care.

Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah, yes.

Elia Gourgouris: We can’t help

Elisa Tuijnder: anybody else without helping ourselves.

Elia Gourgouris: I know, but most people don’t. When my own stress level goes up, guess what?

My my self care level goes up too because I have to take care of all these people. So, so that’s one thing. The flexibility and adaptability is the, is the next thing. What we discovered First of all, that people, when they face a challenge, fall into four categories. [00:37:00] And I’ll be real quick about this because I know our time is short.

The first one is the victim, which is why is this happening to me? If it’s only happening to them and not 8 billion other people, that’s number one. The second is the critic. Who basically takes no personal responsibility, but is angry and frustrated and mad and just criticizes everybody, the World Health Organization, their boss, their company, the president, whatever.

The third one is, is the bystander or basically someone who’s so overwhelmed by the changes that are facing their summit, they feel so out of control. That [00:37:30] they’re in fear mode and they’re frozen in fear and they don’t do anything. There’s a frozen fear. They can’t make any decisions. Then you get to the navigator.

Which is the call to action, right? For all of us to navigate through life successfully, happily, and so on. So, but before I tell you what navigators do quick, here’s the really important that all four of those personality types exist within each human being. It’s not like, well, Dr. Ily is a navigator and you’re the ignition.

No, we all have.

Elisa Tuijnder: Again, we’re not black and white people, right? Nothing is [00:38:00] black and white.

Elia Gourgouris: And I’ll give you a real example. In March of 2020, all my speaking engagements all over the world got canceled. Yeah. In one week, email after email, we’re sorry to inform you, sir. The conference has been canceled due to blah, blah, blah.

So guess what? Did I get into fear mode initially? I’m like, holy cow, what am I going to do? Did I feel like a victim? Like I was supposed to speak in Barcelona in October 20, it got canceled. Actually, it didn’t. I did the talk on zoom. It wasn’t the same. Yeah. Yeah. We’ve been to Barcelona. I was excited. It, did I blame sometimes the [00:38:30] government for the way they mishandle certain things?

Yes. But here’s the thing. If you’re going to get mad, do it for 30 minutes, not for 30 years. If you’re going to feel like a victim, cause we’re human beings. We’re not perfect from time to time. Do it for an hour, but then pivot and shift and become a navigator. And what navigators do really, really well is they practice massive self care.

They have a positive attitude. They always see the big picture that, Hey, I’m going to figure this out and they’re [00:39:00] flexible and adaptable. I can’t tell you how important flexibility is, especially when we’re facing challenges. I

Elisa Tuijnder: know for myself as well, as soon as, as a lot of horrible things have happened about my mental, I call it my mental elasticity.

So, you know, it’s the one thing that adds to it and it’s like, Oh my God. And if you’re constantly at this level where everything, every small inconvenience could push you over, then you can’t. The Good at navigating and finding new ways and et cetera.

Elia Gourgouris: I love that phrase, mental elasticity. I really like, can I borrow that?

I’m going to give you credit for [00:39:30] it. Yeah, yeah,

Elisa Tuijnder: yeah, yeah. And I almost see it visually like that, like, Oh, I have to do self care because you know, my thermometer is up and then my mental elasticity goes down.

Elia Gourgouris: Yeah. So, you know, yeah, the flexibility is, is, is the key, I think, to success, both on an individual basis, but also organizational basis.

There are far too many companies that didn’t make the adjustment during the pandemic because they’re like, well, this is how we’ve done it for the last 20 years, we’re not going to change now, but you know [00:40:00] what, only the, the elastic or the flexible survive and actually thrive, you know, and when leadership is a, is elastic or when leadership is flexible, it also shows to the rest of the employees, like, you know what, there’s trust here.

Again, we’re going to do things a little bit differently because we want what’s best. We want our employees to be engaged. We want them to be safe, especially during those times. We also want them to be productive. You know, we still have a business to run. This is where the [00:40:30] transparency comes through. I work a lot with, you know, chief HR officers and during the pandemic when they were like, well, all our employees are at home.

I don’t know what’s happening and all that stuff. And we have one zoom call a week. I’m like, when you get on the zoom call with your employees, don’t ask them how they’re doing. Everything is fine. Everything is fine.

Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah, but they’re at home, cooped up, but their kids are doing their homework. Right,

Elia Gourgouris: because they’re not going to tell you the truth.

No, no. Close the door, [00:41:00] lean into the camera and say, how are you really doing? And what can I do as a, as an, as your leader or as your, to, to help out? And by the way, I said, if you really want to connect with your people, say, you know what? I’m kind of depressed too. I really miss being in the office. I’m kind of sad too.

It’s been really hard for me to say that as a leader, have the guts or the courage, better. That’s a better word. Have the courage. Yeah, absolutely. Be honest with them. And be vulnerable. Thank you. That’s it. When you do that, then you’ll [00:41:30] connect with your people and then you’ll see what a difference it makes, right?

Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah. And also what you just said there, the, uh, what can I do to help? Even if you can’t really do anything to help, the question leads to, it’s also a good conversation starter. Because like you said, if you just say, Hey, how are you? That’s a trope almost, right? Like, good. There’s literally like pandemonium going on there, but yes.

Yeah. Oh, and here we’re fine. How can I help you? Um, then you have a thing to start off with and it feels already [00:42:00] the safety in that conversation is already. elevated them and it leads to actual things.

Elia Gourgouris: But also be vulnerable. I think that’s the second half, like all the fact that you’re not doing great either, in essence, you know, we’re all in this together in some ways, right?

Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah, humanity. We’re also in this together. It depends on how we look at the lens we use, right? So, uh, we’re all in this together in whatever that context is, whether that is business, whether that is the world, whether that is a pandemic, it really is a good lens to use. [00:42:30] I want to keep talking, but unfortunately we don’t have, uh, we’re really running out of time now.

And what we do at the podcast, we just actually did highlight a number of these, but we’re really big fans of tangible practices. Things our listeners can start Implementing tomorrow without having to do a whole culture overhaul. So those people who are in, in companies that maybe are not there yet so that they can start practicing things or they can start practicing something with their teams.

Is there something that you want to, a key piece of advice or key practice that you could end the [00:43:00] podcast on for us?

Elia Gourgouris: First of all, for, for, this is for individuals, but it can extend. Do not procrastinate your happiness because most people live with a wench. When I’m in the right relationship, when I get the right degree, when I’m in the right job, when I make enough money, when, when I have kids, when the kids grow up, when the kids retire, when I retire, when, when, forget all the when’s.

There are no guarantees about any one of us about, you know, what’s going to happen tomorrow. None. So don’t procrastinate your happiness. Practicing self care should [00:43:30] become a non negotiable. I don’t negotiate my self care with anybody, that comes first, but also be flexible, be adaptable, continue to learn.

Nobody has all the answers, right? Oh no, and it’s just changed over time. It’s okay to ask for help, practice how communication with your loved ones at home and those at work. In the end, things work out, maybe not in exactly the way you want them or in the timing that you exactly believe in, things work out in the end.

And, you know, [00:44:00] Nelson Mandela, who’s one of my, uh, you know, one of my heroes, said something so profound once. He said, in life, either you win or you learn.

Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. That’s celebrating the, the failure again, right? That is, uh, it is so important.

Elia Gourgouris: Which actually isn’t really failure. You and I have accomplished something.

Yes, exactly. We’ve had some successes, of course.

Elisa Tuijnder: In a business context, we could say like, oh, that didn’t work. But yes, in a life context, um, that is not true.

Elia Gourgouris: The greatest lessons I’ve happened. My life [00:44:30] with what seemed to be setbacks or failures or weakness or whatever. And you only see it after the time has come back and you go, you know, if that hadn’t happened, I wouldn’t be here.

Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah. Yeah. Setting up a life path. You can have goals obviously, but you know, saying like, okay, from here to that point, and there’s not going to be any meandering. It’s just, that just doesn’t happen. And the good things come from the meandering and coming across. New things that we see along the way.

Elia Gourgouris: And really basically the don’t procrastinate your happiness means live your best life.

[00:45:00] Now, don’t wait for something to happen. Start living now. Yeah, that’s it.

Elisa Tuijnder: Absolutely. Those are very wise words to live by, Dr. Elia. Thank you so much for them. If people want to get your books, I’m sure they’re on Amazon as well, but how can they find you for other things for your consultancy services?

Elia Gourgouris: On LinkedIn?

Yeah, LinkedIn is probably Elia Gregores PhD or Dr. EliaGregores. com is my website and you can find, you know, all that stuff. Yeah.

Elisa Tuijnder: Fantastic. I will link those into the show notes. So that we have those there as [00:45:30] well. So thank you so much for this enlightening conversation. It was really fantastic. And yeah, I’ll be sure to continue following all your beautiful books.

And, uh,

Elia Gourgouris: you know, we spent so much time at work. Yeah, we should be happy. Yeah, that’s it. There you go.

Elisa Tuijnder: On all accounts, as we know now.

Elia Gourgouris: There we go. Very good.

Elisa Tuijnder: Thank you.

Elia Gourgouris: All right. Thank you too.

Elisa Tuijnder: You’ve been listening to the Happiness at Work podcast by Management 3. 0, [00:46:00] where we are getting serious about happiness. Be sure to subscribe wherever you get your podcasts. And if you enjoy our shows, don’t be shy. Write us a review, share the happiness with your colleagues, family, or friends. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn under Management 3.

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