February 2019

Lead with Some Laughs

Consider comedic techniques to boost morale and increase productivity.


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Are you a leader who takes yourself too seriously? Would you like to incorporate more smiles in your leadership style? You might try strengthening what is perhaps the most underrated leadership trait—a sense of humor.

Experts say humor and humility go hand in hand—and offer a counterbalance for keeping corporate egos in check and the team happier. A sense of humor is “part of the art of leadership, of getting along with people, of getting things done,” according to Dwight D. Eishenhower, an American general and the 34th president of the United States.

Consider embarking on the just-released Engaging Humor path to develop a deeper understanding of how to effectively lead with some laughter. Here are some tips from the new path, as well as outside sources, to help get you there:

  1. Know your audience. When incorporating humor in any facet of leadership, make sure you know the demographics of your audience, including age, occupation, nationality and gender. Keep your humorous context appropriate and understandable to all. Do some research beforehand, if necessary.

  2. Know your sense of humor. Your personal stories, the ones that make you laugh, are the best place to start when adding humor to your leadership style. It also humanizes you.

  3. Engage with a clear, funny message. Elevating a clear message with humorous stories is a good way to relieve tension, soften the blow of bad news and motivate the team. Just make sure the message is supported by the humor, not overpowered by the humor.

  4. Practice the strategy of impromptu humor. Impromptu humor seems spontaneous and fun but is most effective when there is some practice involved. The trick is to rehearse funny stories that can be adapted for various presentations and announcements. Just make sure you don’t repeat a rehearsed story on multiple occasions with the same audience. Keep a repertoire of fresh material.

  5. Enumerate key points with comedic examples. People remember exaggerations, especially the funny kind. Using humorous quips when outlining tasks to the team is one way to get them to be more engaged with a project.

You don’t have to be a stand-up comedian to inject a little more humor into your leadership techniques. Incorporating a few laughs can boost morale and increase productivity—not just for your team but for yourself.


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