Hedinn Sveinbjornsson is Iceland’s chief happiness officer. He runs a company called 2happiness where he is working and dedicating all his time and energy to help other people feel happiness at work, at home, and in life in general. He also has a podcast about that, where he talks to other people, passionate about happiness. I decided to invite him first of all because he’s a funny guy and he can bring joy to every conversation he’s having. And secondly, because especially in times of pandemic it often seems like all of the joy was sucked out by a Dementor, and it’s crucial to know how to maintain good spirits and stay on top of your life despite the difficulties waiting for you around the corner.

Some of the interesting points that Heddin made were connected with his definition of leadership. Besides mentioning regular things like that a true leader must show the way or have a vision where he’s moving, Heddin paid a lot of attention to the fact that a true leader doesn’t outshine the employees.

Hedinn says that there has to be communication between the leader and the team at all times, and the relationship should develop in such a way that even if the leader messed up he should be able to feel free to say “hey guys, I made a mistake” without feeling ashamed. The emphasis should always be on the team and the fact that the work of everyone is extremely important to achieve the common good. 

One of the main problems nowadays that Hedinn remarks is that leaders are not being educated properly in what they have to do. With how quickly the world is changing now, the demands of people change daily, and although companies have tools to calculate and figure out where the company should go, oftentimes talented people who have skills for leadership get completely lost in what they have to do. This happens because of the mismatch between the demand and the way a leader takes care of his team. So in the end, the company piles up another hundred tasks on leaders that we think they should do, but the company hasn’t equipped them with the necessary knowledge of how fast and in which way the company is moving. The company gets people into leadership positions, but never trains them. Statistically, leaders on average, get the first “education” or “training” in leadership, 13 years after they’ve started leading people. But one should have this training since day one because it’s a tool that guarantees the success of the company!

Without having this training, one starts off as a normal worker deciding on solutions of things with everyone else and doing a regular job. And all of a sudden this person gets promoted, and now everyone is looking up to him, asking where to go next and what to do to get to the solution. But how is this person supposed to know if just yesterday all those questions were discussed among all of them looking for the goal?

The solution did not appear in a person’s head just overnight. Neither did the personality. However, the attitude of people surrounding you does change. And you might be a popular guy when you do good things, but not the most popular if you will have to root out bad influence from the company. And such decision-making is what makes it extremely difficult just to step up being unprepared for this. 

Therefore, we need to not only indicate the leaders but also the other employees. The training part lays in getting that principle into the DNA of teamwork. It’s about recognizing that the whole team has their job descriptions here, and mine (as a leader) is not better or worse than yours. It’s just different. And without my team, I won’t be able to be a leader because I won’t get to the results.

Leadership is really about making sure that everyone is seen and appreciated in the team and their job is seen as important. Then, and only then, when the leader is not outshining the employees is the company guaranteed to be successful. 

If you are interested to find out more about Hedinn’s story and his tips about the ways of finding someone to support you, how to deal with dysfunctional members of the company, and the importance of letting yourself play, listen to the whole conversation here.

Stay tuned and be genius!


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