As long as we have had the ability to communicate with each other, humour has existed. The power of humour is something that seems to be superficial, but in fact, it hugely shapes how we form relationships, how we make sense of the world, and it can make difficult events or emotions easier to digest and process. Comedy has numerous social and psychological effects and functions in life at large, but how exactly can it help with leadership skills in particular?
Creates better team dynamics
Strict hierarchal structures can be effective in achieving results, but the human component is often overlooked. What use is a team that meets targets if members want to leave because they feel undervalued or like a mere cog in a machine? In a boss-employee relationship, there can tend to be a strong split in the nature of the bond. Employees will joke amongst themselves and form strong bonds through this, but the relationship between employees and management is very often rigidly formal and serious, much like that between teachers and students. Comedy can be a way to bridge this gap, making communication between different levels of seniority more open and fluid which could be a way to boost performance and morale. After all, many of us may have had a favourite teacher who was most likely funny as well as being a good educator.
On a very basic level, laughter is beneficial because the act of it stimulates the production of the hormone oxytocin. This neurochemical is known to reduce the amount of cortisol, the hormone that induces feelings of stress and anxiety. The workplace can be a highly stressful environment for many people, so using humour as a way to actively reduce the generation of stress in workers can only be beneficial.
When is humour not appropriate?
There are caveats with utilising humour as a CEO or team leader. Offensive jokes or ones at the expense of a colleague are likely to not only have an alienating effect on people but could have serious professional repercussions – perhaps even legal.
Beyond this, excessively trying to make jokes, even at inopportune moments, can come across as pandering for approval from your team or may even be seen as desperation, much like David Brent in ‘The Office’, and this can undermine your position as a leader. You yourself don’t have to be the one to make all of the jokes (your title won’t change to Chief Entertainment Officer), you simply need to encourage laughter amongst your team and join in if you feel it.
Not every team meeting or progress report needs to be an open-mic night but incorporating a degree of levity and comedy into situations where they are appropriate can help strengthen your relationship with your employees and colleagues. With laughter, you can help alleviate stress in your team and create strong positive bonds with one another, so that you can create a productive and positive environment for everyone involved.
To find out more about how you can improve you or your business’ leadership potential, speak to us at Anthony Gregg Partnership.