Humor and Laughter as Tools for Leaders

Does your leadership tool box include humor, laughter, and mirth? It should. When used correctly, laughter can increase productivity and morale at work, help people feel better emotionally and physically and build resiliency.

Being a self-diagnosed laughter specialist, finding the humor lining is probably easier for me than most of my co-workers. I’m surrounded by people happily embracing humor and some that won’t crack a smile. Some are even frightened by the word humor. For those who resist curling their lips upward, they’ve viewed fun as being bad at work. If they admit they are having fun, they feel they may not be considered professional.  Allowing yourself to laugh during work hours is going to do the opposite. The brain fires off neurons. It starts to inject awesomeness into your brain. It allows you to release the tension and open up good vibes for thinking. If you’re laughing each day, then the quality of your work increases. Working on a project for eight hours without a jolt of laughter is going to make for some long weeks. If you are glaring at the screen, reading the same sentence six times, and your eyes glaze over often then you need a break. Try to infuse your day with a laugh, giggle, or snort. If you do, you’ll return to the task at hand refreshed. Can’t hurt to try!

When working with teams, it’s always good to allow some laughter and humor. Communication will be heightened. When people are stressed, they feel they aren’t being heard. Allowing some laughter will create a team bond. Be observant for the one person waiting after everyone else is laughing – to make sure the leader is allowing the fun. They need to feel safe the laughing or humor is validated. Let the conversation linger for a moment. This will help those needing assurance and permission to laugh an opportunity to engage. Bringing the team back after a nice laugh will instill a closer bond and trust, even if it is just for the meeting.

To have healthy employees, our world has taken into account work-life balance. Giving an employee an environment that embraces laughter at work will give them tools to use in life. Providing humor in proper doses builds a skill set. It lends to more resiliency. Over time, the mental shift will help a person to become a better strategic thinker. Problems become more approachable and solutions more thought out. In life, the ability to become resilient in uncertain times can be a side-effect of laughter practice.

Keeping a laughter attitude can help shift a bad day to a better day, lessen tension and anxiety, or make someone smile when they unknowingly needed it. An investment any leader can maximize.

Where to find inspiration for humor? Check out my friend Andrew Tarvin’s site – he’s got an app for that! Or, go ahead and browse the internet – tons of ideas.