• April 2010

What's Your Company's "Gross National Happiness" Index?

By Angela Sontheimer
Managing Director
Lincoln Leadership Institute at Gettysburg

There are many measures and metrics we use to gauge success in business. Regardless of our field of work, we regularly use hard numbers to chart our growth, profits and losses, and retention. As a nation, one measure we look at regularly is our gross national product, or GNP. I’m sure there is a comparable measure that you use in your organization.

I wonder what would happen if we took a page out of the book of the country of Bhutan. This tiny, mountainous country, which is about the size of Maryland, is located between India and Tibet. It is famously isolated and insular, with aspects of modern life such as cell phones and television only recently introduced.

The thing I love about Bhutan is that it doesn’t pay much attention to GNP. Instead, it focuses on GNH, or gross national happiness. Really – it measures success on how happy it is as a nation. It is focused on the “promotion of equitable and sustainable socioeconomic development, preservation and promotion of cultural values, conservation of the natural environment, and establishment of good governance.”

Don’t worry, be happy!

What would happen to our organizations if we started to care not only about the bottom line, but also about organizational GNH? What would happen to our relationships at work, productivity, the relationships we hold with clients and other stake holders? Try it for a day — or a week.

Really focus on the GNH of your organization. Care about the economic development, but also care about the cultures, the environment and the governance unique to your organization. Make it a happier place to be all day. I bet you’ll be pleased with the results!


About Angela Sontheimer

Angela is managing director of Lincoln Leadership Institute at Gettysburg, where she is responsible for overseeing operations, marketing and curriculum design. She is a graduate of Gettysburg College and holds a masters degree in leadership and liberal studies from Duquesne University.

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