“To know and not to do is not to know.” Chinese Proverb
John glanced quickly over his shoulder as he was driving me to my speaking venue and asked, “So you’re the speaker? What do you speak about?”
Ah! Did he know that this is a professional speaker’s favorite question?! “My body of work for the last 25 years has been the study of humor’s relationship to profitability and health. This afternoon I’m going to share how to use humor as a competitive business edge,” I explained, delighted to share my passion with him.
I could see John’s smiling eyes in the rearview mirror. “Did you know that humor is really, really good for you?” he asked in all sincerity. (Yes, I knew that!) John then went on to tell me a somewhat fuzzy version of Norman Cousins overcoming his life-threatening illness by watching funny movies. It was fun to hear someone else extol on the benefits of humor—and I was encouraged that the...
As I began the interview for my podcast, I looked at his boyish grin and into his playful eyes. “My guest today is Chade-Meng Tan, and he’ll be sharing his insights on leading with levity.”
Meng got a puzzled look on his face and said, “Levity? Oh, I thought we’d be talking about levitation. I guess I’ll have to throw out my notes!”
“Uh-oh,” I thought. “This might be a disaster!”
Chade-Meng Tan then tipped back his head and laughed. Perhaps I should mention that Meng is known as Google’s Jolly Good Fellow. “Leaders need to establish trust—and humor is one way of establishing trust,” he said.
Recently retired from Google (at age 45), Meng is an award-winning engineer, bestselling author, TED talk presenter (check out his TED talk where he shares his insight: "Compassion Is Fun”), and Co-chair of One Billion Acts of Peace, which has been nominated seven times for the Noble Peace Prize....
Three-and-a-half million people rallied throughout France on January 12, 2015 to show unity and to show support for freedom of expression in the face of fanaticism and terrorism. What triggered the terrorist attack on the Charlie Hebdo office? Humor.
Humor?? Yes. Political satire. So are we now going to characterize humor as a weapon? Something to wield and fear? C’mon, we’re more mature than that. (Aren’t we??) (Perhaps we had better warn the editors of Mad Magazine to tread lightly. “What, me worry?”)
Humor, like any form of expression, has a huge range—from the silliness of Teletubbies for toddlers to the “dead seriousness” of sharp political satire. All forms of communication can be used for comfort and connection, and also for influence and intimidation. Yes, humor can be used as a weapon. But it’s not a weapon of mass destruction! It’s a weapon of mass embarrassment.
Satire is one of the more edgy—and often...
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...
Dr. Bob Dent is the Dean of Health Services for Midland College, as well as the VP of Patient Care and Chief Nursing Officer for Midland Memorial Hospital, which is located in Midland, Texas. He’s one of those impressive individuals who has more characters in the abbreviations of his professional accomplishments than most of us have in our actual name!
But his accomplishments aren’t just a result of his education, or his certifications. Dr. Dent’s caring, compassion, and charisma exude through his easy-going style and sense of humor. I’ve had the privilege of watching Dr. Dent during a visit to Midland Memorial and seen first-hand his mastery of leading with levity: setting the tone for fun while at the same time setting high expectations of his staff.
The result? They’ve achieved ANCC's Pathway to Excellence—twice! They are enthusiastic about their path on the ANCC Magnet Journey. Patient satisfaction scores are high and continue to climb, and...
Jacqueline Ko Matthews is the founder and CEO of PJMint, a digital wealth management firm that delivers better, safer and cheaper comprehensive, advanced quantitative wealth management strategies online to everyday investors. She was the right-arm Investment Executive to former Virginia Governor/current U.S. Senator Mark Warner in his $200m family investment office and played a critical role in establishing the Goldman Sachs Investment Banking Hong Kong office focusing on China, Taiwan and Southeast Asian markets. She worked under then Co-Chairman Robert Rubin who later became U.S. Treasury Secretary.
We’re thrilled to have her insights on Leading with Levity to share with you.
Here are the highlights from our conversation:
Listen to Your Team
“There are leaders who only want people to listen to them. A better approach is to do more listening. Make decisions based on the input of your team members. Solicit multiple viewpoints and have them present you with the pros and...
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...
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...