While the definitions of eudaemonic well-being vary somewhat, most come down to a distinction between hedonic or pleasure based well-being and eudaemonic or meaningful, purposive well-being.
In a 2005 Leadership Quarterly article Ilies, Morgeson, and Nahrgang stated that eudaemonic well being "reflects the Aristotelian concept of eudaemonia: Aristotle’s view of human happiness that assesses the goodness of life based on 'living in a manner that actively expresses excellence of character or virtue.' " Aristotle, like Maslow and other humanistic psychologists, saw life as being about growth, realizing one's potential. Ilona Boniwell provides an easy to read overview of theories of eudaimonic well-being.
Ilies et al. argued that authentic leaders tend to have eudaemonic well-being and nurture such in their followers. So how do we develop authentic leaders with eudaemonic well being? The presenters at the conference emphasized experiential learning, that people can become more authentic leaders through training and development. Louis Baron presented the results of a three-year study that support this. Training and development sessions were 20% theory and 80% activities. Baron also used peer coaching where people were teamed up across companies to help each other, be "sounding boards" for each other, especially during "trigger events," moments in organizational life that pose significant challenges to leaders.
Authenticity in leadership goes back to ideas discussed by Mary Follett almost a hundred years ago. To grow as a leader, as a person, one needs to reflect on one's own experiences and then try new approaches where needed. It is not enough to be self aware. We grow by reflecting on our experiences and making adjustments. Thus we learn by informed trial and error. Having a "sounding board" can help.
Ilies, R., Morgeson, F. P., & Nahrgang, J. D. (2005). Authentic leadership and eudaemonic well-being: Understanding leader-follower relations.The Leadership Quarterly, 16, 373-394.
Image, "Sunset", by bussdriver. From https://pixabay.com/photos/sunset-outdoor-sky-nature-natural-3424570/
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© John Ballard, PhD, 2019. All rights reserved. Modified from earlier blog, August 2012.
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