Laughter and a wholesome love of life are being among the most overlooked, underutilized communications tools at a CEO’s disposal.
A lot of studies also show that the degrees of stress hormones like cortisol and epinephrine decrease during laughter. Some experts say a raucous episode of laughter may trigger a reply in kind. And researchers are studying its health advantages.
At an annual convention for municipality officials in NJ this past year, a panel of politicians discussed the need for leaders using humor and how its use can ease tensions in heated meetings and even make officials seem more approachable. The same could possibly be said for leadership at any level.
As a longtime CEO of successful startups and large public companies, I’ve found humor to be an important tool in these four specific ways:
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1. Creating a wholesome company culture.
To really have the most fluid, flexible and fast-moving company, you need to pivot fast or you’re likely to get killed. That fluidity is incredibly important in a startup environment since it creates a culture that lasts.
Using humor as a core value makes companies more fluid and less rigid.
You could be serious about the task and lighthearted simultaneously. When you consider the light side, people remain more open, flexible, productive and motivated — all assisting to create a cohesive corporate culture and keep carefully the company continue.
2. Keeping the team on the leader’s side.
People gravitate towards people that have a feeling of humor. For leaders, that is key to building trust and developing open communication with employees.
When you can have a joke or are easy to laugh with, members of your team will see you more approachable and you will be much more likely to want you to achieve success and will stick to you when the going gets tough.
Humor lets employees understand that you, too, put your pants using one leg at the same time and it’s vital that you not take life too seriously.
And humor is one language that everyone can understand. It reduces barriers between people. When you can share fun with someone, you’ve linked to see your face.
3. Getting through rough patches.
Every company has its ups and downs. And startup life could be stressful. During a down economy, it’s the CEO’s job to motivate members of the team to muscle through. Failing woefully to do so can spell doom. In such situations, laughter is vital to quickly obtaining the team back on the right track and in a far more optimistic mind-set.
When I was CEO of Candence, a much-anticipated IPO became stalled due to turbulent market conditions. This is a significant, but temporary, setback for the team. Employees were dejected, but there is a company to perform and clients to serve.
To lighten the mood, I walked through any office dressed such as a vagabond pushing a shopping cart software filled up with now useless company prospectuses.
It got some smiles, even some laughs, and I’m sure an eye roll or two, but it addittionally helped put this setback into perspective. The business went on to carry an effective public offering.
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4. Opening new means of thinking.
When I studied Zen Buddhism, I learned all about a practice of slapping people in the top at a specific moment to encourage them to start to see the light and knock them off track.
Now, while I don’t recommend slapping your colleagues on the top, humor can have an identical impact.
Humor can knock a person off a particular track and open her or his mind to seeing different things. Humor produces incongruent situations. It plays to an underlining place which makes that each question an assumption and see something differently.
When people become too serious, they could see things too narrowly and may ought to be poked a bit.
Not absolutely all humor is workplace appropriate. But used intelligently correctly, humor can strengthen your leadership and drive real business benefits.
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