(Originally published April 2014 but always worth a re-read)
Let’s start by getting over the spelling thing. For my readers south of the border, read ‘humor’. Everyone else, read with ‘humour’.
Back in 2014, Forbes offered up a list of the top 10 leadership traits. In the #4 spot was… A Sense of Humor!
So, a grasshopper walks into a bar and the bartender says “Hey – we have a drink named after you!” To which the grasshopper says “Ya? You have a drink called Bob?” I love that one.
A sense of humour is important… every day.
We all want to enjoy our work and our workplace. We want to look forward to heading out to work every day, and to make this a reality, many things need to happen. Challenge, accomplishment, camaraderie, comfort, security and more. But it also has to be fun. As a leader, we need to create an environment that has some humour in it – that is fun. As often as possible and appropriate. If you are managing a project team or a division of a large organization, this is for you. You need to find a way to lighten up the atmosphere, so you hear that, among other things, this is a fun place to be.
It can’t just be ‘we had fun sometime last month’.
- A sense of humour is important when things are NOT going well.
We are all so busy, so stressed, so nervous about our future and in many cases, very overworked. We need to lighten up once in a while and this is the responsibility of today’s leaders – you. Great leaders will make an effort to carry a smile wherever they go and to add levity to every day. This is NOT a sign of weakness but rather a sign of strength.
I have worked in some pretty stressful environments. And today is as stressful as ever for many people! This is a critical time for leaders to step up and add some levity to the day. This is when a sense of humour is most important. Work still has to be fun. Otherwise, we run the risk of losing really good people. Then, when it all turns around in the future, your best people are gone. Ouch.
- A sense of humour is important when we make mistakes.
We all make mistakes. The original Forbes.com article about the top attributes of leaders says “Encourage your team to laugh at the mistakes instead of crying.” Well said. This kind of reaction makes an organization worth coming to everyday. We are all in this together. No one is perfect. So, lighten up. Let’s fix it, learn from it and not lose a good person because of it.
- A sense of humour is important when things change. We all know people who do not handle change well. I definitely have a few of them in my life. When change happens and we go into crisis mode, we need a sense of humor. This makes the solutions easier to grasp and easier to execute.
So, to all of you leaders out there, I say stop being so serious every hour of everyday. Come on down into the trenches and help lighten it up.
Do you have a sense of humour (humor)?