We hear about how a leader can be successful, accountable, responsible, goal-oriented and the adjectives list is long.  Leaders need adjectives that not just describe their performance abilities, but also ones that reflect qualities termed collectively as “being.” 

Leaders are often measured for the success they bring to a team or an organisation. They need more than just their performing abilities when under pressure, either in their personal lives or in their professional roles. They need to be flourishing and thriving, which is a step ahead of doing well, surviving, and being successful.


Martin Seligman, from the world of Positive Psychology, spoke greatly about flourishing. This TED talk by him introduces his concepts in Positive psychology. His positive psychology model PERMA, can be applied in any organisation or personally for leaders to thrive.

PERMA is an acronym for 5 determinants to creating ‘ flourishing’.

 P for positive emotions

Developing positive emotions by doing exercises that spark a positive thought about oneself is beneficial. In the long run, one evolves to be less lonely, sad, or stressed.

People who make it a part of their routine report improved levels of optimism, happiness, contentment, and peace.

According to Seligman, on measurement of these emotions, they are self-sustaining and not limiting, as people continue to do these exercises as it is a mood booster.

Example: In my leadership courses the topic of mood and emotions is an important module. Leaders are introduced to the idea of tracking their moods and being in the choice of the energizing moods they can commit to.

I invite them to consider energizing moods such as curiosity, connection, and ambition. It makes a big difference to the team’s mood when a leader can be aware of this.

 E is Engagement

When we do things that delight us and are fully absorbed into it; we not only engage with our core self, but we also learn how to engage authentically with others.

Those who engage well with others and themselves, form lasting relationships, feel more content and live happier.

Example: The SALT coaching program on relational intelligence is all about understanding one’s connection style. Leaders need inputs on how they can relate from a place of authenticity and realness in their conversations with others.

Many aspects of personal relating get challenged on the SALT course so leaders develop the courage for this way of engagement. 

R stands for Relationships

Humans are meant to be in connection with others, either in a family system, organizations, or in a community. Our quality of life increases when we build positive relationships with others.

Team building activities empower the bond between individuals and teams. 

Example: Relational Intelligence as a focus of coaching is vital as leaders handle multiple stakeholders. Sooner a leader learns the skills of how to handle multiple areas of challenge and conflict, especially with their stakeholders who are in positions of authority and sponsorship.

A leader understands how they can add value and grow. When I work with teams a big focus of my work is enhancing team skills in conversations, requests, feedback, and problem-solving together. 

M is for meaning or purpose

When a leader gives importance to finding meaning at work or use their strengths to fuel an altruistic cause, they attain higher levels of well-being.

It is more sustaining than a quick fix to find contentment.

It indirectly helps their subordinates understand the power of their roles within the organization and may also inspire them to find their sense of purpose.

Example: On my 1 year Power Up program for senior women leaders this aspect of ‘purpose’  is the first 3 months of engagement with self. A reflection on what they care about? Why does it matter?

How are they leading from a place of clarity?  A leader’s conviction in their goals, their purpose brings a powerful energy to themselves and their teams. 

You can hear one of our Power Up cohorts, Neha Govila,  speak about cares here.

 A is accomplishment

Leaders understand that accomplishment and recognition is are basic human need. Acknowledging and praising the individual or a team for the effort and the work produced is the easiest way to instill a sense of accomplishment and create lasting relationships.

Example: Leaders knowing how to acknowledge themselves, and how to provide conditional and unconditional strokes to their teams is a vital relationship skill. Teams thrive when there is acknowledgment and encouragement along with a challenge.

What if we cannot hold onto Flourishing as a practice and attitude?

It is reasonable that one cannot be positive all the time. Even though one has the tools to create abundance and prosperity, circumstances may not allow, all of it all the time. 

Dr Paul T Wong considered the existential issues one faces, to create another model for flourishing. 

The Transcendence model offers us leaders these pointers:

  1. To have the courage to embrace all emotions as and when they arise.
  2. To gain responsibility to do good and what is right as one’s situation allows and through limitations.
  3. To work towards having a good relationship with yourself and treat others with respect while creating relations that help both ways.
  4. To be considerate of pursuing passions that are ethical and intrinsically good and not for selfish means causing potential harm to another.
  5. To include all kinds of accomplishment, as they can be small, and immeasurable at times.

Example: Today, I remember 2 leaders who are also my teachers. 

P.K. Saru was an embodiment of the ‘bold and big’ in life. I saw her boldly face her emotions  and stuck places and some of them were painful as she had a colourful life in many ways.

She used her capability and competence for ‘big’ to take Transactional Analysis to different parts of the world and to those parts where it may not have easily reached- Iran, Bangladesh, and smaller towns in India too.

She was at the helm of developing mental health professionals and was an embodiment of ‘dreaming up what was good for all’ 

I also honour your work @Bob Dunham for your commitment to take Generative Leadership to any corner of the world it can go.

You have role-modeled for me a life of passion and purpose while keeping the conversation on what we care about, our finitude, and also a leader’s commitment to designing the Good Life for oneself.

All the ideas I have been inspired by and now teach and coach leaders on. At your stage of life, you inspire me to continue to flourish!

6 Strategies to Promote Personal Flourishing:

1. Take care of your mental and physical health

Practices that help keep one physically fit not just benefits the body, but also the mind. Daily activities like yoga, running, strength training, and other forms of exercise are excellent for keeping fit.

Including outdoor sports activities with a group of people like cycling, group hiking, and team sports, develops positive relations with others.

2. Being in relationships that fulfill our needs and wants

It is meaningful to devote time and effort to creating relationships that add value. It is easy to get selfish in fulfilling our needs, but a relationship is more sustaining when we also fulfill the other’s needs.

It can be with parents, partners, friends and colleagues.

3. Seeking satisfaction at work

One sure-shot way of flourishing is to do what you love. But many times, one can find themselves stuck in an undesirable job they cannot escape under tough conditions.

Asking the question ‘ What do I deeply care about at work? What areas of work/in my organization do I want to make an impact on? These questions can throw up options you did not think about before. 

Do read this blog where I write about the importance of cares.

4. Update yourself

The confidence and competence built by doing certification courses, upskilling, further education, and attending workshops, are vital to one’s development.

They are dual in advantage in that they create opportunities ahead for growth and creativity and reduce the boredom that naturally seeps in due course of time.  

Here are a few tips from the growth mindset blog to help you on this journey! 

5. Allot time for joy

Joy sparks creativity, optimism, freedom, and empowerment, therefore making us feel gratitude, hope, love, and faith.

Practicing to feel joy can look like taking time off to do nothing, celebrating small wins, spending quality time with ones we like, enjoying a cup of tea or coffee, or taking a solo vacation.

6. Include mindfulness

Mindfulness practices are key to developing a direct connection between the mind and the body.

Being mindful can range anywhere from meditation, to playing with a child, to cooking with intention, to just being present in a conversation fully engaged with the other.

One can carve out valuable time to sit in reflection. This can calm the mind and help the brain develop neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity is also effective in dropping old patterns of behavior, building useful habits, and being consistent with them.

Personalize your way of flourishing.  

There are so many ways to make us content- through religious rituals, practicing gratitude, journal entries, free expression through movement, creative expression through art, physical activities, volunteering for a social cause, and seeking therapy for personal or relational well-being.

One can get exhausted trying to do all of these. It is wise to pick a few. 

An evolving leader is a flourishing leader. 

This self-care download may further support you daily.  

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Sailaja Manacha

Sailaja Manacha

Sailaja Manacha, a Master certified Coach from ICF, is known for her programs and coaching methods that combine psychology with leadership practices. In her work, Sailaja draws from Psychology, Ontology, NLP and Spiritual frameworks as well as rich, real-world experiences.

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