I think a sense of humour is a great quality for a leader to possess.
Moreso if they can share this humour throughout the organisation in an appropriate way then humour becomes a culture setting strength
However there are also ways to get this horribly wrong – and it is no laughing matter.
I think the landscape around this area has changed significantly in the last 20 years.
Bawdy and poor taste jokes thankfully have diminished significantly in most organisations.
At the same time I wonder – has the ability for the organisation to have a happy and healthy sense of humour, to be able to laugh at and with itself, gone as well?
Perhaps the nexus of the internet’s killing of the personally delivered ‘joke’ and the shift in standards of behaviour to much more appropriate norms has taken with it the art of great humour?
Further I wonder if there will be a backlash, and of what nature and to what extent?
I often think my posts are too serious- I have this little guy running round in the back of my head saying – “Lighten up, lighten up!”. It illustrates well the challenge of leading with serious intent while demonstrating a sense of humour.
Why is humour important?:
It lifts our spirits
Executed well there is more than an ounce of truth an insight in many good jokes
Humour can be used to deliver important messages very softly
Executed well it appropriately reduces stress and negative emotion around errors/mistakes/omissions.
Surely a client seeing a happy smiling workforce is better than them seeing a humourless and dour one?
Here are some do’s and don’ts
• Don’t mock
• Beware – wit is either the lowest or highest form of humour, it depends on how and when it is used.
• Sarcasm is just not funny in any way
• Laugh with others but only if appropriate
• Laugh at yourself (or never at all)
• Laugh with people not at them
• Set the standard for good and positive humour by what you say and what you listen too
• Sexist, racist, bawdy jokes are seldom if ever funny, steer well clear.
How much humour in your work? In your workplace? At home?
My favourite punch line:
“To a pig, time means nothing.”
When we meet I’ll happily tell you what precedes it.