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“Your passion is a major source of others’ inspiration,” Professor Adam Galinsky told the students. “You cannot inspire others if you yourself are not inspired.”

“Your passion is a major source of others’ inspiration,” Professor Adam Galinsky told the students. “You cannot inspire others if you yourself are not inspired.”

Insights on living and achieving

In a talk to graduating students, Professor Adam Galinsky explores the intertwined paths to leadership and happiness

By Julianne Beck

5/11/2012 - Courage, authenticity, passion and the ability to generate happiness are among the essential characteristics of a successful leader, Professor Adam D. Galinsky says. Pay attention, and these qualities can be yours.

Galinsky outlined the path to success and warned of the pitfalls of power in his May 2 talk, “Crafting a Better World: Finding Meaning, Power and Happiness in Your Professional Life.” The presentation was part of the “Nota Bene” series at Kellogg, during which professors offer insights and advice to graduating students.

A clear and well-communicated vision is critical for leaders, as is a focus on others. The most inspiring leaders exemplify desired behaviors and empower those around them, said Galinsky. “Your passion is a major source of others’ inspiration,” Galinsky said. “You cannot inspire others if you yourself are not inspired.”

Define passions and goals

Galinsky encouraged Kellogg’s soon-to-be graduates to develop authenticity by defining their passions and goals and learning to clearly communicate them. This will inspire energy and creativity among those they lead. Failure, warned Galinsky, results for leaders who assume their thoughts are understood. Instead, he advised leaders to over-communicate and ask questions to ensure that employees understand their direction. Provide updates and be generous with detail.

“How do you make the world better for other people? You involve them, you give them some voice, you give them some choice in the matter of what they do and that will make their life a better place. I guarantee it,” counseled Galinsky.

Luck does play a role in the pursuit of happiness and success, Galinsky said. But “you can make your own luck by finding opportunity and performing well,” he added.

Avoid egocentricity

Galinsky also advised the students to learn what motivates others and consider their perspectives. Power, he cautioned, makes leaders egocentric, and they must fight that tendency.

Lastly, develop well-being through generosity. “You will be happier if you are generous to other people,” he said. Avoid keeping score, and offer favors before they are asked.

Ultimately, affirmed Galinsky, to succeed as a leader one must adopt a positive outlook. “You have to see the world as a challenge and not a threat,” he said.