80% of our interactions with our supervisors are positive, and only 20% are negative. The bad news is that the effects of negative interactions on our mood are 5 times stronger (Miner et al., 2005). As a result the net effect of interacting with our supervisors is often negative. We experience less positive emotions with them compared to interacting with our colleagues  (Bono et al., 2007).

It is not surprising that having an autocratic and abusive leader creates more feelings of regret, anger, job tension because of feelings of injustice. If your leader has a transformational style, you will experience more joy and happiness. And this for several reasons.

1) They experience more positive emotions themselves, are more optimistic, and due to our tendency to emotionally converge with someone, i.e. emotional contagion (the idea that emotions travel from one person to another), they pass their positive mood and emotions on to us.

2) This effect is larger because we identify ourselves more with them, as well as with our work.  The latter makes that we have to regulate our emotions less at work, and therefore experience more job satisfaction.

3) Due to their positive emotions, and sometimes their coaching style, they create a more psychologically safe environment. Stated differently, we trust them more .

The question that we have raised, however, already a few times on this blog is: is it still possible to have a lot of transformational leaders in this volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world? Where will we keep finding these ‘geniuses with their 1000 helpers?’. Part of the solution is to rethink the source of leadership an think of leadership as a shared process between peers, colleagues a team, and not only from an appointed, hierarchical leader. Leadership as a property of a group.

The question it raises is, will shared leadership increases our changes on happiness? Hooker & Csikzentmihalyi (2003) have argued that this would be the case, because shared leadership promotes much more the state of flow than any form of vertical leaders. “Flow is that state of consciousness in which people feel completely involved in an activity to the point that they lose track of time and lose awareness of self, place, and all other details irrelevant to the immediate task at hand….In other words, it is a deep engagement and pure enjoyment of an activity for its own sake” (p. 220).

Shared leadership is likely to create flow for six reasons:

1)      By understanding your work within a group-context, a greater sense of social meaning is created. Daily tasks become opportunities to contribute to a sense of accomplishment you share with other members of the group. In sum, it reduces the salience of extrinsic rewards and replaces them with greater interest for the task at hand.

2)      Worry of failure or being critically supervised is removed. In flow, you simply do not have the time or available mental space to worry about failing (p.222).

3)      The absence of strict hierarchal supervision, removes distraction and much irrelevant information  and just like in a state of flow where your self-consciousness disappears, it promotes lower self-consciousness among group members. You are able to work on your own, to take risks, and to do things your own way without feeling scrutinized (p. 228).

4)      It increases your sense of autonomy and control over what you are doing. Vital to reach the state of flow.

5)      You’re not given tasks by a hierarchical leader that are not challenging enough or too challenging. This freedom allows you and your team members are therefore more likely able to work in your zone of proximal development –the place where challenge and skill are appropriately balanced for learning and high engagement.

6)      In sum, “when intrinsic interest becomes the emphasis, when fear of failure and self-consciousness are removed, when autonomy and self-control are granted, and when employees can find their own balance between challenge and skills, their work becomes an end in itself –something to actually enjoy and find fulfilling” (p.229) It becomes an autotelic activity.

A 7th reason is that the designated leader who is able to create shared leadership is more likely to be an authentic leader. And as authentic leaders are a more true to their multiple selves, have more positive social exchanges, focus more on values and well-being, they experience more positive feelings which will contaminate the group again.


Any comments?



Bono, J.E., Foldes, H.J., Vinson, G., & Muros J.P. (2007). Workplace emotions: the role of supervision and leadership. Journal of Applied Psychology, 92(5), 1357-1367.

Gooty, J., Connelly, S., Griffith, J., & Gupta, A. (2010). Leadership, affect, and emotions: a state of the science review. The leadership Quarterly, 21, 979-1104.

Hooker, C. & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2003). Flow, creativity, and shared leadership: rething the motivation and structure of knowledge work.(pp. 217-234). In Pearce, C. & Conger, J.A. (Eds.) Shared leadership, framing the hows and whys of leadership. Sage Publications.

Ilies, R., Morgeson, F.P., Nahrgang, J.D. (2005). Authentic leadership and eudaemonic well-being: understanding leader-follower outcomes. The Leadership Quarterly, 16, 373-394.

Miner, A., Glomb, T.M. & Hullin, C. (2005). Experience sampling mood and its correlates at work. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 78, 171-193.

Rajah, R., Song, Z., & Arvey, R.D. (2011). Emotionality and leadership: taking stock of the past decade of research. The Leadership Quarterly, 22, 1107-1119.

Rosenberg, L.R. (2010). Transforming leadership: reflective practice and the enhancement of happiness. Reflective practice, 11(1), 9-18.

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