Never underestimate the power of positivity. While humour isn’t typically the first characteristic that comes to mind when you’re planning a leadership strategy, it can work wonders when you’re trying to lead or motivate your team. The ability to make and take a joke is a valuable attribute that can help you in many aspects of your professional life. Learn why incorporating humour in the workplace is a useful approach to management, and discover new ways to expand your sense of humour in a natural way while keeping your dignity and respect as a leader intact.
Laughter Disarms People
Making someone laugh is one of the most effective ways to help them feel at ease. Even the kindest bosses can be intimidating to employees, so connecting with your staff isn’t always easy. Cracking a joke or sharing a laugh helps to reduce the gap between boss and employee, bringing you both to the same human level. Humour really helps to alleviate some of the natural tension that’s bound to exist in a hierarchical office setting. When your employees see you as a person like them, rather than just the figurehead who sits at the big desk and signs the paychecks, they feel much more comfortable working alongside and for you.
Boosting Morale Improves Productivity
Happy employees work harder and stick around longer. Fostering an upbeat work environment is a win-win for everyone involved, and humour is one of the easiest ways to create an uplifting atmosphere. As a team leader, you set the tone. If you’re constantly solemn, you can expect your employees to act the same way. After all, it’s normal for employees to want to avoid causing a stir and disrupting the status quo. By making a joke — or even just making it a point to smile more often — you show your team that they can feel at ease. Never underestimate your role in the office’s overall mood.
Humour Improves Other Social Skills
As a business leader, it’s important that you stay sharp. Humour is actually a powerful tool for exercising your brain. After all, being funny and clever requires you to be on your toes and thinking fast. While there’s nothing wrong with preparing a joke or two in advance, the best humour is often unscripted. Using improv comedy as a management tool helps you develop on-the-fly social skills that can be used in other aspects of your career.
Additionally, humour isn’t just about what you say — it’s about how you say it. Being able to entertain and engage people, through humour or otherwise, naturally makes you a more effective leader. Of course, just being funny doesn’t mean that you’re automatically a natural leader, but incorporating humour alongside other valuable traits such as empathy, problem-solving skills, communication, and respect goes a long way in making you a more versatile, well-rounded, engaging, and effective figurehead.
How to Use Humour in a Professional Setting
How you joke around with your friends isn’t always the appropriate way to interact with your employees. In a professional setting, and especially when you’re in a leadership position, you need to find the right balance. Avoid any type of humour that could be accidentally or intentionally offensive. Even if you’re confident that you’re going to get a positive response, the potential backlash just isn’t worth the risk.
Never make jokes at another person’s expense. Keep your humour uplifting and friendly. As a boss, your words carry serious weight, and you want to keep your team on your side. After all, it’s impossible to be an effective leader if nobody is willing to follow you. As you strengthen relationships with your employees over time, you can gauge what’s appropriate more accurately. Allow your employees to set the precedent, then meet them halfway. That approach prevents you from treading too close to the line, ensuring that you never accidentally cross it.
Incorporate Humour Into Presentations
Being a funny leader doesn’t mean people should anticipate a joke every time you walk into the room. In fact, going overboard can actually work against you if you’re not careful. You’re still the boss that people look up to, and you need to preserve your self-respect and dignity. The occasional off-the-cuff joke is great, but don’t force it.
One of the best ways to spice things up with some humour is to add a little silliness to meetings and presentations. Not only are public gatherings an opportunity to showcase your humour to multiple people at once, but you also have the added benefit of preparing your material in advance. Start things off with a wisecrack. Slip the occasional funny image into a PowerPoint presentation. Little things like that can really mean the difference between an engaging presentation and a boring one.
If you’re not naturally a humourous person — and plenty of people aren’t — it may take some time before you really start to feel comfortable making people laugh, and that’s okay. Nobody expects you to be the next big stand-up comedian. Just putting in the effort to be a little more lighthearted is all it takes to win your team over and improve your leadership style. Start small, and don’t try to shoehorn humour into every interaction. After all, life has a funny way of creating humourous situations organically. Start by smiling more often. Plant that first happy seed, and watch your sense of humour grow.