There’s no doubt that the work that we do with clients around the world is serious business. We’re with them through the ups and downs they experience. We’re with them in powerful moments when they gain clarity into themselves or their businesses. The work we do leads to serious consequences.
But if you think that makes us serious all the time, you’d be mistaken.
Good Leaders Laugh
In fact, we’ve learned — both through our own experiences and that of our clients — that good leaders not only laugh, but they’re able to laugh at themselves.
And as you can see below, we’re no exception.
While some people talk about using humour as a tactic or device to connect with others, there are more compelling reasons to use humour that speak to the nature and role of the leader.
Fundamentally, we’re all travelling the same path. We’re seeking work that matters in the world and we want to feel that others can see our contribution.
Leaders who can laugh at themselves allow others to see them just as they are — imperfect people who are constantly striving to bring their best into this world. And sometimes, when we’re striving, we fail. Some failures are spectacular, but most are actually quite innocuous. Those moments present perfect opportunities to laugh at yourself.
“Humour is the shortest distance between two people.”
~ John Cleese
There has long been the stereotype of “putting on your mask” or “getting your game face on” when it comes to business. For most, this strategy has not served them well, and here’s why: Most of the work we do — as businesses, non-profits, boards of directors — is based on our ability to build meaningful relationships and you can’t build a meaningful relationship with someone in a mask.
When leaders laugh at themselves, they also give others the opportunity to laugh at themselves too. When leaders drop their masks and show others who they are, they give permission for others to do the same.
It is empowering, it is honest, and it is powerful.
Building relationships relies on tearing down barriers and there are few things that tear down barriers faster than laughter — especially when you’re laughing at yourself. In fact, there’s research that shows the relative merits of laughing at yourself verses laughing at someone else.
“There is little success where there is little laughter.”
~ Andrew Carnegie
Only a confident leader can laugh at themselves. Only a leader who recognizes that they’re not perfect and that they’re committed to a path of improvement can laugh at themselves.
Leaders who laugh at themselves are simply more approachable to those they serve. Others begin to perceive them as being more likeable, more caring and more trustworthy.
And let’s face it, given the choices, it’s better to laugh at yourself.