If I asked you to think of the ideal leader, you might picture a person who oozes charisma. It’s the manager who can make the toughest choices and do it with a smile. They know how to lighten up tension-filled situations, but vitally, they’re also aware of when it’s time to get serious. It’s not always about cracking the funniest jokes or trying to make your employees like you, but having humour in your leadership repertoire is a great way to garner respect from your team.

Research has found that appropriate use of humour in the workplace can even signal that a leader is high in competence, if it’s done right. On the other hand, a joke that doesn’t land can have negative effects on the way you’re viewed by employees. It’s the risk-taking required in comedy that makes us respect funny people, and as a person with a talent for making calculated risks, it’s the perfect trait for a leader.

What are some comedic techniques I can use?

Don’t run away

Abandoning a joke or an attempt at humour before the punchline can leave you looking weak and won’t get you a laugh. Unless you feel like your joke is going to land you in HR, stick with it, and don’t be afraid to be emotive. People connect with strong emotions, especially when it comes to comedy.

Stay in the laugh

If you crack a hilarious joke, use one or two statements to follow it up, increasing in absurdity as you do so. This is called doubling down and it’s a common technique used by stand up comedians and talk show hosts. Remember, don’t step outside of the rule of three.

Take the world out of context

This means to notice the absurdities of life and point them out as if you don’t understand them. This technique is also known as observational comedy. Imagine for a moment that you’re not from this planet. There are so many things in everyday life that are comically absurd when you remove the context that surrounds them. Do this and leave your employees in hysterics.

How do I know when the juice isn’t worth the squeeze?

If you sense that it might not be the appropriate time to make a joke, go with your instinct. Avoid self-depreciating jokes that revolve around your insecurities, as people can sense that you’re trying to cover up for something. Don’t tell jokes that are inappropriate in their nature, particularly those that target any one particular group. Try to keep it light and stay confident.

For more tips on how to improve your leadership technique, follow the Anthony Gregg blog.

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