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Happier Leaders

By Courtney Kissler, Paul Gaffney

How Leaders Can Cultivate A More Positive, Productive, and Engaging Work Environment

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This paper focuses on how leaders can cultivate a more positive, productive, and engaging work environment. The authors emphasize the importance of emotional intelligence, employee well-being, and an outcome-driven culture in modern leadership practices.

  • Format PDF
  • Pages 10
  • Publication Date May 7, 2024


  • Clear Guidance

    Provides clear, practical guidance on creating great leadership in a modern enterprise.

  • Effectiveness vs. Efficiency

    Shows how true satisfaction in leadership roles stems from effectiveness not efficiency.

  • Expert Authors

    Written by a team of experts in the field who have applied these principles in various industries.

  • Change Agents

    Change agents can come from anywhere on the org chart. These papers directly address how to lead and implement change no matter your role or title.

About the Resource

In today’s fast-paced and often high-pressure business environment, the concept of leadership has undergone a significant transformation. The traditional power-based, task-driven approach is increasingly giving way to strategies prioritizing emotional intelligence, employee well-being, and a more outcome-driven culture.

This paper gives a brief overview of the paradigm shift toward happier leadership, focusing on how leaders can cultivate a more positive, productive, and engaging work environment. It highlights the balance between achieving organizational goals and fostering a culture of happiness and collaboration, challenging the notion that leadership effectiveness and personal well-being are mutually exclusive. Through this exploration, the paper offers insights for current and aspiring leaders to navigate the complexities of modern leadership, emphasizing the importance of happiness as a cornerstone of successful and sustainable leadership practices.

Courtney Kissler
Paul Gaffney
Courtney Kissler

Courtney Kissler

Courtney Kissler is senior vice president of Customer & Retail Technology for Starbucks. In this role, Courtney is responsible for delivery and performance across all retail platforms, including point of sale (POS) and store networks. She also drives transformational programs such as next-generation technology in Starbucks stores all over the world. Courtney’s engineering teams are responsible for extending customer digital engagement through world-class web and mobile experiences, supported by modern scalable cloud platforms and integrated services to build innovative solutions and enable business capabilities across the global Starbucks enterprise. Courtney returned to Starbucks in 2023 after serving as Chief Technology Officer and Senior Vice President of Technology at Zulily, and as the Vice President of Global Technology at Nike, where she was accountable for building a re-usable seamless platform to power Nike Direct to Consumer experiences, core commerce services, user services, consumer data engineering and global retail solutions. Courtney also led Nike’s Global Supply Chain, Fulfillment and Logistics teams, and drove transformation across the supply chain ecosystem. Courtney was vice president of Retail Technology at Starbucks from 2016-2017, where she led global POS and retail store technology experiences. In all her leadership roles, Courtney drove transformation in ways of working, moving to more outcome-based delivery of technology using modern practices, including DevOps. She grew up in Spokane, Washington and moved to Seattle in 1997 after graduating from Eastern Washington University in Cheney, Washington with a bachelor’s degree in computer information systems and a minor in computer science.

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Paul Gaffney

Paul Gaffney

Paul Gaffney is a change agent with a unique perspective on successful enterprise technology and operations transformation. He led profound and durable improvements in technology, operations, and overall business results for several iconic American brands, including The Home Depot, DICK’s Sporting Goods, Kohl’s, Staples, Office Depot, and Charles Schwab. Paul has been a Chief Technology Officer, Chief Operating Officer, Chief Supply Chain Officer, and Chief Executive Officer. Regardless of the title, Paul focuses on a human-centered approach to identifying and solving problems. His approach motivates team members to contribute to success in ways they previously thought impossible. He advises several early-stage companies and is an active executive advisor for Deloitte. Paul also delivers a popular and impactful keynote presentation on transforming from Project to Product. This talk was a vital feature of the 2022 DevOps Enterprise Summit, the inaugural 2022 Prodacity conference and eBay’s most recent internal TechCon, and several follow-on online events. He leads custom seminars and was chosen by the students as the lead-off speaker in the 2023 seminar series for MIT’s “Leaders for Global Organizations” dual master’s degree program. Paul has also been an early-stage executive at two start-ups: the initial CEO of Website Pros, now, and the COO of Desktone, acquired by VMWare. Paul was inducted into the Chief Information Officer Hall of Fame by CIO magazine. He lives on Scraggy Neck in Cataumet, Massachusetts, with his wife Kate and their two black labs, Nike and Cosmo. Paul earned his A.B. in Computer Science from Harvard College and completed graduate psychology coursework at Harvard University. He is a 2009 Henry Crown Fellow of the Aspen Institute and a member of, and Moderator for, the Aspen Global Leadership Network and the Institute’s seminars program.

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