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Dr. Foster Mobley // Business, Quotables, Wisdom Leading

According to a new study conducted by the Wharton School, leadership effectiveness and height are correlated. In other words, the taller you are, the better leader you'll be. Just kidding. Today is April 1st, also known as April Fool's Day. That's got me reflecting on the role of humor in leading. As a rule, business is often serious business: we're dealing with lives and livelihoods, health and safety, and powerful technologies. And, we need to lighten up once in a while. I'm not suggesting that Boeing workers be allowed to throw pies in each other's faces while they're assembling the components of the 787 Dreamliner. I am suggesting that encouraging humor can help people defuse the tension that comes with Very Important Work. After all, as Bertrand Russell said, "One of the symptoms of an approaching nervous breakdown is the belief that one's work is terribly important." Some leaders discourage humor in the workplace because they see it as a coded challenge to their authority or don't understand its value to worker engagement. But what if humor could be open and intentional? What if the boss was the first one to share a joke each morning? Instead of being a means to express grievances and mock authority, humor can be a means to build camaraderie and bring teams together. In your organization, are you the initiator of humor or the butt of the jokes?

According to a new study conducted by the Wharton School, leadership effectiveness and height are correlated. In other words, the taller you are, the better leader you'll be.

Just kidding.

Today is April 1st, also known as April Fool's Day. That's got me reflecting on the role of humor in leading. As a rule, business is often serious business: we're dealing with lives and livelihoods, health and safety, and powerful technologies. And, we need to lighten up once in a while.

I'm not suggesting that Boeing workers be allowed to throw pies in each other's faces while they're assembling the components of the 787 Dreamliner. I am suggesting that encouraging humor can help people defuse the tension that comes with Very Important Work. After all, as Bertrand Russell said, "One of the symptoms of an approaching nervous breakdown is the belief that one's work is terribly important."

Some leaders discourage humor in the workplace because they see it as a coded challenge to their authority or don't understand its value to worker engagement. But what if humor could be open and intentional? What if the boss was the first one to share a joke each morning? Instead of being a means to express grievances and mock authority, humor can be a means to build camaraderie and bring teams together.

In your organization, are you the initiator of humor or the butt of the jokes?

1 Comment // Permalink
Current Comments.
  1. Steve Cokkinias said:

    Great Read! Agree that taking things too seriously is often a precursor to stress and early demise. In my previous life, I often settled frantic employees with 2 questions: is anything on fire? No? Ok....did anyone die? No? Ok, then take a deep breath...and smile. As an aside, disappointed to learn that the "height thing" was only an April fools joke. Had been leveraging that for years...


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Dr. Foster Mobley

Trusted advisor and coach to admired executives globally for 3 decades, Thought leader on wisdom-based approaches to breakthrough leading, "Lead Coach" for Deloitte's experienced and high potential leader development, Team performance advisor to two NCAA championship teams