I’ve worked very late the last few days getting ready for a new programme we’re running next week. Working late when under pressure can test my resilience and with it, my sense of humour but I’ve kept it intact so far. Well that’s my own reflection anyhow and I’m the one doing the writing here!
I spent yesterday in Mt Maunganui with clients workshopping (is that really a word?) some concepts that will be used to roll out some performance management and training over the coming year. It was a pleasure to work with people who know how to have a laugh. We cracked jokes and had several Larry David moments including “was that hot water for my long black or are we sharing? I feel I need to claim it if it’s just mine you know”.
I reckon we achieved a lot yesterday. We worked pretty hard and the ability to have a laugh during the process was an important component of how we worked. We didn’t put a team charter together, we all took roles at leading and at times there were random jokes that on the face of it distracted, but actually kept the energy up, the connections alive and the thought processes going.
Do you know anyone who doesn’t enjoy a joke? Is there a relationship between humour and creativity? Humour and irony in particular is an important part of our culture and can have an important role in leadership.
Do you use humour in your leadership? Do you try to? Or does it just happen? Giving feedback truthfully and with empathy will require emotional intelligence, experience and a lot of self-awareness. Delivering difficult news about a restructure proposal will be a serious business. And you won’t want to make light of it.
Lot’s of leadership though, is about creating an energy that gets your team in a creative space, if you’re wanting to take your business to the next level. Taking that step-change you know you need to create to make a difference.
That’s where humour can come in. Not taking the mickey out of each other – that can easily be bullying – but sharing humour with each other. Irony that acts like a team brain gym, keeping the energy up and the creative juices flowing.
Think of it another way: does the permanently serious boss who frowns when you’re having a laugh really get the team going? Chances are it’s about something else – some fear of not being in the group which he or she won’t be if there’s no engagement. No casual Friday around this dude!
So are you a leader with humour? I’d say you can’t be one without the other. Humour is that special, connecting characteristic of being a human being that not only separates us from the animals – it can separate us from the mundane.
Back off, the hot water is mine! It’s actually quite a serious business. Maybe humour is actually the opposite of what we think it is. Seriously, you need it. Especially if you want to engage.