Blog Conscious Leadership

The Joy of Leadership

Written by Charlie Efford

Guest blog by Steve Dodd

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I was recently given a quirky topic for a presentation.  “The Joy of Leadership”.  It was meant to be about the experience of leadership from the point of view of the leader and intended for people who are not yet in senior leadership positions.  Why do people become leaders, what do they get out of it?  All interesting stuff but what about the quirky title?

It’s clearly a reference to a famous book, “The Joy of Sex”.  If you’ve not heard of it, it is apparently a ground breaking illustrated sex manual by British author Alex Comfort that was a bestseller in the early 1970’s.  More of that later.

I recently discovered an application from Google called Ngram Viewer.  This tool charts frequencies of words printed in books since 1800.  So I wondered if there had been any change over time in the frequency of use of the word “leadership”.  “Leadership” is so often discussed now in business, sports, politics and elsewhere I guessed it would have increased in use.  I was right.


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I wondered if joy correlated with it?

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Apparently not.  It seems as the use of “leadership” has increased, so the use of “joy” has reduced.  Of course this does not mean actual leadership has increased or that actual joy has reduced but it’s still interesting.

It occurred to me that I had come across many people who were in management positions but who were far from joyful.  They were weighed down with responsibility, complained about uncooperative staff and stressed about workload.

This got me thinking about the relationship between joy and leadership.  Lots of research into what brings people satisfaction (or joy) at work concludes that we need three things.  Autonomy; Mastery; Purpose.

If you want to be happy at your work one source of autonomy is to take the lead.  Furthermore you can engage with the challenge of leadership by striving to be better at it.  Lastly, as a leader you can help form and deliver a purpose for your organisation, your people and yourself.  That is the “Joy of Leadership”.

Conscious Leaders help leaders develop autonomy, mastery and a sense of purpose.  Learn more at

Perhaps those joyless managers I referred to earlier were too focussed on the management task and not enough focussed on leadership.

Well I couldn’t resist one more go with the Google Ngram viewer.  “The Joy of Sex” was clearly the inspiration for the title.  So has there been any change in the use of the word “sex” over time?








As you know, statistics never lie.  There is a clear correlation between the increase in leadership and frequency of sex.  Do you need any other information about the “joy of leadership”?

For more blogs and information about Conscious Leaders go to

About the author

Charlie Efford


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