#173 – Humor

Today’s message is a topic near and dear to my heart, yet something I’ve never written about! Why not? Because it’s complex and delicate, and for leaders, ironically, quite serious. It’s not easy to do it justice in 300 words, but here goes…
Humor is a wonderful attribute, and used skillfully, can be a marvelous resource for a leader. Humor is the quality of being amusing, which means to cause a person to laugh or smile. The appropriate and intelligent use of humor humanizes the speaker and the situation and serves as a counterbalance to a leader’s power and authority. In effect, it reminds us that “we’re all in this together.” It can lighten the tenor of an interpersonal interaction, bring some comic relief to the seriousness of an issue at hand, and serve to diffuse tension or stress. I particularly appreciate humor for helping me keep things in perspective. All aspects of leadership require thoughtfulness, and perhaps even more than most, the use of humor requires great skill, discretion and wisdom.

Food for Thought ~

In particular, leaders must have the self-awareness and self-discipline to ensure that they use true humor, and not sarcasm, which is the use of bitter or wounding comments at someone’s expense. Sarcasm is quick and easy, but destructive, and should be vigilantly avoided by leaders. Although less dangerous, it is also a mistake for a leader to be overly self-deprecating. Not taking ourselves too seriously is quite healthy, excessive self-sarcasm isn’t.

Question for the day ~

As a leader, how well-developed is your use of good humor? Does your workplace culture encourage laughter and playfulness?

In Closing ~

Last week’s post was on “Strategies – the Second Cornerstone of Business Success,” and you can click here to read the full article in the NorthBay Business Journal.