As business schools train the corporate leaders of tomorrow, skills like emotional awareness and improving well-being are taking their place alongside deal-making and financial modeling. The growing demand for human skills has led courses on happiness, relationships, and balance to be among the most popular courses at top M.B.A. programs, reports The Wall Street Journal.
At Harvard, the 180 spots of the Leadership and Happiness course taught by Dr. Arthur Brooks fill up quickly. The course covers how to cultivate teams’ happiness along with their own as the central tenet is that happiness is key to being an effective leader. According to Dr. Brooks, happiness isn’t just a product of chance, genes, or life circumstances, but of habitually tending to four key areas—family, friends, meaningful work, and faith or life philosophy.
As the pandemic hits many lives to rethink their goals, happiness at work has since taken on new urgency for employees and managers, as workers leave jobs at record rates. Many more companies are scrambling to reduce turnover, experiment with new ways of working, and offer wellness retreats as part of their efforts to retain employees.
At the Leadership and Happiness course, Dr. Brooks’s students take assessments of their relationships, materialistic values, and other emotional metrics. In a recent morning class, he projected students’ anonymized scores on a screen at the front of the lecture hall, according to the article.
Some high achievers rank highly on finding meaning and accomplishments but score lower on positive emotions. Deferring gratification constantly can lead to burnout, according to Dr. Brooks
His former students have started practicing his theories as they entered the workforce, one stores a series of reminders for daily practice in his office desk drawer that is drawn directly from the class: Live in “day-tight containers”—meaning, stay aware of future goals but live in the present.
That guidance is especially helpful when things go wrong. Fix mistakes, then move on and not be overwhelmed by things they can’t change. The course has also helped the students understand their fear of failure. People don’t fear failure itself, Dr. Brooks tells students, but how failure will make them feel.