How to lead using humor and have fun doing it
There are numerous approaches, methodologies, systems, and theories when it comes to leadership. They all focus on many vital aspects of the human psyche and the rules of working together effectively. In most of them, however, humor is not a variable – and where’s the fun in that?
We spend at least 1/3 of our day (at least those lucky ones) at work, and I think it’s a great idea to implement humor in this critical part of our lives. Of course, as with everything, we need some moderation. I guess you shouldn’t fire someone using a meme from the internet, right? Or could you? Hmmmm…(just joking, please don’t do things like that!).
A light-hearted and a bit casual approach to business is a part of what I call Charismatic Leadership. It is something I have implemented here at SolveQ, and it has yielded incredible results over the past year.
If it’s funny, You can’t help yourself. And it’s great for you!
In a working environment, making jokes is often considered private, shared among a smaller group of friends. Some people, especially in a corporate setting, tend to see humor in the workplace as something unprofessional. I think you can use the best of those worlds by allowing your message to resonate more by using humor as a tool to reach others as human beings.
Whenever you encounter something funny, you laugh. It is a ubiquitous, involuntary response that most people share. And laughing isn’t just a reaction – it has many, many positive effects on the human body, both in terms of physical health and psyche.
The field of science studying the effects of laughter is called Gelotology. It is a name derived from the Greek word “gelos” – Gelotology. And no, I’m not joking – it’s an actual thing!
Historically, humor therapy stems from 14th century France and is credited to Henri de Mondeville, a French surgeon. He openly encouraged friends and relatives to visit recovering patients with the primary purpose of distracting them and making them laugh. Many surgeons, sociologists, and philosophers later took this on, culminating in the Gesundheit Institute in 1971, specializing in practical care using humor.
It’s basic science… biologically
It isn’t just a random practice, either. Neurophysiology indicates that laughter is linked with the activation of the ventromedial prefrontal cortex, which produces endorphins. Some parts of the limbic system are also involved in laughter. It plays an important role in regulating human emotion and helps us with functions necessary for survival.
Today, many therapists used it as a natural form of medicine. It’s accessible to everyone and provides benefits to our physical, emotional, and social well-being.
Physically, laughter relieves stress and relaxes the whole body, increases blood flow, and improves the function of blood vessels. A good laugh functions as both a relaxant, painkiller (thanks to the release of endorphins!), and a heart disease prevention tool. Some of the many emotional benefits include diminishing anxiety or fear, improving overall mood, and adding joy to our life.
So is it worth including some fun into 1/3 of our workdays? I will answer by quoting one of my favorite comedians, Tim Dillon, by asking a simple question “Yes or Yes?”. As a Leader, you might want to do everything in your power to make your people feel good and to their benefit lighten up for…some sake!
Laughter as a uniting force and a fundament of charismatic leadership
Humor, for all its advantages, has one drawback: it is different for everybody. Some people will have a much more natural predisposition to certain types of humor, ranging from light-hearted jokes to the dark and cynical. This is why it is often challenging to make everybody laugh all at once.
If you’d like to convince yourself of this, next time you are watching a comedy with your friends or your loved one – take a look at them when you burst out laughing. You’ll quickly see that people are looking at you funny. My wife sometimes looks at me like I’m crazy when we watch something immature together – But that’s just me.
People are social animals, and we often clarify our intentions in social interaction is through humor and laughter. Through that, we can provide, sometimes needed, emotional context to conversations. Laughter is one of the signals for being part of a group – it signals acceptance and positive interaction with others. It’s highly communicative and helps accomplish some of our actions or goals and regulate relationships.
When you want others to rally around an idea, it’s worth including a bit of light-hearted fun into it. It can also release the tensions in the group if the discussions are getting too heated!
It is worth considering the time, place, and people with what type of humor you want to implement. But that’s part of the journey, and exploring different experiences people might have to nudge others to your side and garner interest.
Charismatic leadership is all about context, exploration, and not covering from testing new strategies and approaches. Using comedy, in my observation, is a very overlooked technique to deal with business challenges. When used properly it can unite people, help to speed up relationship building, and open the door for more direct communication.
Charismatic leadership at SolveQ
At SolveQ we are trying to implement fun into our daily cooperation. We share some memes in the dedicated Slack channels, but usually, when some discussions pop up. It’s a perfect opportunity to have some funny exchanges.
During our updates, when we share our accomplishments or conducting monthly reviews, we tend to do it in a light-spirited fashion.
There’s literally no need, in my humble opinion, to be strict or formal, even when discussing serious topics. At the end of the day we should try to keep a smile on our faces because it’s beneficial, it feels good and, it just IS good!
Winning people’s minds and hearts is hard and could take a long time. For each Leader that part is crucial. And if you want to be a charismatic and inspirational one – it’s even more important to find a common ground and understanding within the team.
The best thing you can do is to build a coalition of the willing. One way to do this is by uniting your people around something fun. Next time when you’ll be doing something new and exciting or want to announce something positive just ask yourself – WHY SO SERIOUS?!