Good Habits #18: Have a Sense of Humor

By | November 30, 2015

[November 30, 2015]  An essential skill for leaders is a sense of humor.  Humor is universal; it keeps everyone at ease, boosts engagement, and allows a leader to be more approachable and more effective.  Comedians are like artists who use human psychology as a way to move people to laugh and be happier in the moment.  Leaders can learn a lot from comedians to get things done.

“A sense of humor is part of the art of leadership, of getting along with people, of getting things done.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower

While the benefit is undeniable, it’s surprising the number of leaders who avoid humor, they tell us, for a variety of reasons.  Some leaders want to be portrayed as serious and consider humor amateurish.  Humor, however, when used in just the right setting and at just the right time cannot be anything but professional.  Yet, it takes a keen sense of perceptiveness and just a bit to use.  Yet some leaders fear it because they know it is easier to fail with humor than succeed.

While there is considerable scientific research on humor, sadly it doesn’t tell us how to use it effectively.  Research does show that employees admire and feel more motivated by leaders who use humor effectively but have less respect for those who try to be funny and fail.  It is not surprising then that some leaders avoid it.  But business research tells us that humor can stimulate creativity and teamwork as well as increasing analytic accuracy and productivity.

Good leaders know when and how to use humor; they do so to relate, motivate, and communicate their vision and ideas.  While leadership has many complex pieces that a good leader knows , using humor can make it easier and more effective.  And it’s never too late to start learning how to use humor.

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Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article everyday on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.