A sense of humor and the ability to laugh are powerful leadership tools. Below are 5 reasons why YOU should add humor and laughter to your Leadership Toolbox.
1. Leaders who laugh are healthier leaders.
Being in charge is stressful. The rates of heart disease, high blood pressure, and other stress-driven health complaints are much higher among leaders than among people who aren't in such stressful roles. Laughter is an all-natural, drug-free way to alleviate stress. When you're less stressed, you make better decisions: laughter can make you a better business strategist!
2. Leaders who laugh are better negotiators.
Humor puts the common bonds of experience and insight individuals have squarely in the spotlight. This strengthens the relationship. This is important when you're negotiating. Most leaders prefer to have negotiations where both parties feel like they're walking away a winner. Knowing what you have in common with the other party and what's important to them is a critical...
Robert Hartwig is the president of the Insurance Information Institute. He regularly advises Congressional committees, business leaders and the media on economic issues related to the insurance industry. We’re thrilled to have his insights on Leading with Levity to share with you:
Here are the highlights from our conversation:
Leadership Styles Change Over Time
"I definitely see myself as a different leader now than I was in years past. Today, I give my staff a great deal of latitude. They’re very good at what they do, and I trust them to do it. In years past, I was more of a micromanager.
"My micromanager tendencies emerged early—with my first small business – a paper route when I was 12—and continued through graduate school and into my early professional career. Working as an expert witness in particular reinforced the tendency to prepare thoroughly. There’s no one in that witness stand with you!
"Over time the industry became much more tech...
One of the signs that someone is a great leader is that their team isn't afraid to approach them when they need help or support. Murphy's Law touches every industry. There's no workplace that's free of difficulties. The way a leader responds to these difficulties has a direct and profound impact on the morale and collective resilience of the organization.
Some of the most fascinating neurological research out there has to do with the way our bodies react in anticipation to an event. The events we're anticipating can be positive - knowing you're going to meet your funniest friend for a drink after work - or negative - telling your boss that a critical report is way behind schedule.
When we're looking forward to something good, we actually begin to experience some of the pleasure of the event before it even happens. Our blood pressure goes down, our circulation goes up, we feel more energized and emotionally resilient.
When we are looking forward to something bad, we experience some...
Selling real estate requires a unique combination of skills. Not only must realtors know everything there is to know about the homes they're selling and the neighborhood those homes reside in, they must understand the tangled process of financing a home purchase.
On top of that, they need tremendous people skills, in order to attract buyers, understand what their needs are, identify the best properties for them, and provide support and encouragement through the home buying process.
Humor is one of the most essential - yet seldom discussed - tools the real estate agent has at his or her disposal. The realtor who knows how to use laughter to begin relationships sells more homes.
I saw a great example of this on Twitter this morning (Thanks, @sjsincanada!) There are plenty of people who'd shy away from buying property near a cemetery - blame it on too many late night horror shows or cultural traditions that are uncomfortable with the idea of being too close to the departed - but with a...
One of the biggest challenges leaders face is inspiring their team to turn in a top-notch performance all of the time. Motivating people to be creative problem solvers who keep a steady focus on delivering superior customer service is hard work.
If you're really lucky, you'll have some people who are intrinsically motivated to continually come up with original, useful ideas. If you're not so lucky, your role is to create a workplace culture that serves as an external motivation conducive to top performance.
That's where laughter comes in. The use of humor by leadership accomplishes several things in the workplace:
Lowers Barriers Between Team Members:
This makes free and easy communication - essential for creative collaboration, plan development and implementation.
Acts As a Form of Permission:
Sometimes it's the funny, offbeat, or ridiculous idea that can be the real game changer for your business. In an environment where laughter is an acceptable response, it's easier to...
Full disclosure: I have always found the traffic in New Jersey to be challenging. For as long as I can remember, the minute I got behind the wheel in the Garden State, something would happen to slow the journey way down. There have been the typical fender benders and weather-related snafus, of course, but there's also always been an added layer of strangeness to my particular journeys: one time, a tractor trailer full of tomatoes tipped over - we're talking marina sauce for miles! - and on another occasion, the delay was caused by approximately 75 million Justin Beiber fans en route to wherever it is 75 million Justin Beiber fans go.
But lately, there have been some traffic problems in New Jersey that have nothing to do with wayward produce or rock stars. As you may have heard, recent traffic problems in New Jersey may have had a political cause. On Friday, Governor Chris Christie held a long press conference in which he apologized for the traffic slowdowns, adding that the...
Truth is, I don't watch TV much. Mostly it's bad for your health. And honestly most of us don't watch TV as much as we let it drone on in the background until something manages to cut through the clatter.
My stress level begins to climb after just a few minutes of listening to Natalie Morales telling me about the war raging in (name-your-location-here), or Norah O'Donnell telling me about the effects of global warming, or Jean Chatsky telling me I've invested poorly and am going to have to let my favorite child pick out my nursing home. I'll admit it, my chest feels a little tighter, my anxiety is a little higher, and I'm wondering if a glass of Merlot for breakfast would count as a fruit on my Weight Watcher points.
But yesterday something different cut through the clatter. I'm thinking, "Did I hear that right?!" I stopped what I was doing and looked up. The commercial for Kmart’s gas savings was quick—and by the time I got to where I could see the TV, the ad was...
I'll admit it - when I first saw this restaurant sign featured in the Huffington Post, I laughed out loud. Chances are you did too!
Now imagine what your reaction would have been if, instead of encountering this sign on the internet, you saw it while you were driving through your neighborhood. It's still funny - and the fact that the restaurant shared a funny sign might just be enough to motivate you to turn in and have a taco (even though they're not free!)
Humor is Power: Building Your Business
Businesses that offer their customers a way to laugh gain a significant competitive advantage. Humor is disruptive. It attracts our attention and makes us change the way we think. The Mexican restaurant advertising “Free Tacos – Yesterday Only!” will make us laugh, but they’re also planting that seed reminding us how much we like tacos. Couple that with the powerful emotional associations people have with humor, and you’ve got circumstances that...
Build The Humor Habit!
Are you looking for ways to add more humor to your life? You should be! Laughter has tremendous benefits for our physical well-being, emotional resiliency, and social connections. Humor is power! When we laugh, we gain both a broader perspective on the world and a strengthened sense of being in control of our life.
It's a great idea to laugh every single day! Here are four websites that made me laugh out loud this week:
Nurse Quotes & Pics This Pinterest Board collects images and sayings hysterical for nurses and others working on the front lines of patient care
The Onion Satire and parody based on today's headlines
xkcd A smart and funny webcomic - scroll over the comics to see hidden text that can make the gag even funnier.
ebaum's world Short funny videos you'll want to share with your friends.
What are your favorite humor websites?
You might not have an immediate answer for that question. Business is hard work. Owning and operating a business can consume your life. Working for somebody else – whether that’s in operations, marketing, hr, or the dreaded accounting division – isn’t necessarily a piece of cake, either. We devote tremendous amounts of time, energy, and resources into our work, because so much depends on being successful.
Surely this is no laughing matter.
Actually, laughing is the best thing you can be doing. We’d even argue that you have to laugh, if you want to succeed. Don’t believe us? Just ask the people at Southwest. Their uniquely humorous approach has earned them significant goodwill and provided them with a valuable differentiator in a crowded and competitive marketplace.
You see, it turns out that the strategic use of humor is one of the single most important tools businesses have at their disposal. The ability to use...