The Laughing Leader

Posted By: Gene Robertson Blog,

The Laughing Leader


The Laughing Leader

I have noticed a troubling trend with the leaders I coach. There is too often a lack of laughter. Leaders are leaders because they are competitive. They are hard driving. They usually take no prisoners. One of the signs that this has gone too far is when the leader never laughs at funny things that happen or are said in the team. Also, if they are caught off guard and do laugh they feel the need to one up the funny moment.  

A laughing moment is one of the most important ways to build trust with the team. Don't undermine it by turning it competitive.

Here are some ways you can improve letting laughter build your team.

Set up people to let them take the joke and get the laugh and then, laugh. Tell them how great that was. Recently I had a accountability partner that was clearly avoiding me. He knew it. I knew it. He had told some friends he was avoiding me. I texted him and said, "Call me, Mr Avoid-ant." I knew he would take the bait and it would be irresistible for him to call me. He called me immediately and said, "Hello, Mr Avoid-ant." I got him to call me by setting him up to play a joke on me. We laughed. It made him feel better and we were able to handle the stuff we needed to get done.

Listen for the moments that a team member is telling a great story. Give them the moment and praise them. Later ask them to tell that story to some one else and give them the floor again. Get out of the way and give them the praise.  Great leaders tell great stories. Great leaders develop great leaders. If you want to be a great leader give your developing leaders the space to tell stories and then set them up every chance you get to tell the stories again and again.

Have a company get together that involves people telling their favorite jokes. With the right team you don't have to warn them in advance that this is going to happen. If you do want to prepare them don't make telling a joke mandatory. Let those that are comfortable share their favorite couple of jokes and then laugh, even if its not funny. Laugh at the fact that it was not funny, just laugh. You tell your jokes too, but keep them short and don't try to be the funniest. This is not about you. Its about developing great leaders and great leaders laugh as an act of praise and development.

Go, laugh.