Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Why you Should Add Humor to your Leadership Toolbox

You could say humor is a funny thing (pun intended). It’s subjective, for instance you might be a huge fan of “The Hangover” films while your significant other finds them as humor-less as a congressional hearing. Still, the one thing everyone can agree on is they like to laugh from time to time but, unfortunately, many workplaces operate in a laugh-free zone.

While direct reports might have a laid-back relationship and share plenty of laughs at the water cooler, it’s typically a different relationship with their boss. It’s hard to tell where the boundaries are and in our politically correct world, no wants to offend anyone.

But if you’re an easygoing and humorous person, you shouldn’t hide that just because the word “leader” is part of your job title. Don’t forget one of Dwight D. Eisenhower’s classic quotes: “A sense of humor is part of the art of leadership, of getting along with people, of getting things done.”

We talk often about innovation, feedback and engaging your employees. However, maybe one way to really make a difference at your work is to develop a sense of humor. In fact, humor might be the key to help you persevere no matter what life throws at you.

Effective leaders demonstrate an ability to persevere until they are successful. These types of leaders are seen as take-charge people who know how to handle crises in a confident manner. Ask yourself these questions: Do you maintain your enthusiasm and determination in difficult circumstances? Are you willing to stick with an idea if you are convinced it is the right direction, even if your ideas are in the minority?

If you think you need to fine-tune these skills, maybe this is where humor can come into play. Instead of getting frustrated when things don’t go as planned, expect change, ambiguity, and frustration at least part of the time. This is normal. Develop your sense of humor; learn not to take yourself too seriously.

If you allow yourself to get stressed at any challenge, the consequence of poor coping skills will invariably lead to lost opportunities. An inability to cope with stress will not only cause personal unhappiness, it can also make you ineffective as a leader.

Here again, you should maintain and cultivate your sense of humor. A well-developed sense of humor will help you and those around you deal more effectively with stress.

Now we’re not saying that humor is the cure for all issues. But why not put some fun into work? This will not only assist in overcoming obstacles and challenges, it allows you to build trust and makes you seem more approachable. In fact, it might help spur creativity. Remember as a manager, you have the ability to influence your team member’s motivations. When motivation is strong, performance is usually also high.

And that kind of success is no laughing matter.

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