Humor is a valuable leadership tool because it opens up the avenues of communication between you and your employees, as well as between you and your customers.
When you've demonstrated that you're someone who appreciates humor and that it's acceptable to laugh with you, you're also showing others that you can be approached with other types of messages. People will feel freer sharing challenges and even bad news with you.
This doesn't really sound like a good thing, does it? If leading with laughter results in an increase of people having frank, direct conversations with you about less than wonderful news, some of you are saying, sign me up for Club Super Serious. Who wants to open the floodgates to every complaint and concern?
Good leaders do. Conventional wisdom may say ignorance is bliss, but conventional wisdom has never been blindsided by the fact they have a toxic employee who's actions are going to inevitably lead to expensive, reputation-ruining litigation; conventional wisdom has never been surprised by the fact that there's quality control issues that need addressing now or that drop-dead deadlines aren't going to be met. In the real world, we want to know this type of information while it's actionable - when we have time to correct the problem and save the day!
Encouraging open communication can result in some days that are uncomfortable. You're going to hear things you don't want to hear. But that discomfort will pass, and the benefits from making humor a pivotal aspect of your leadership style will last a long, long time. Listening beyond the laughter takes courage - but it's definitely worth it!