I was inspired by two professors at Stanford Business School who teach The Power of Humor. They’re convinced that after months of fear and loathing the pandemic, American leaders have ‘fallen off the humor cliff’.
Some will argue that business is serious and there’s no place for humor. In fact, the opposite is true. A recent study asked “What inspires trust in a leader?” The top response was ‘they speak like a real person.’ Ever notice how humor changes the energy in a room? When we laugh, our brains release a rush of endorphins and dopamine, the same hormone that’s released during sex.
So, laughing brings us together and helps us feel more connected.
Here’s my take. I ran a business that was flying high until an insurance company acquired us. We were a creative, fun-spirited group and their humorless approach drained the life from us.
Our office culture devolved into us versus them. People avoided each other in the hallways and the vibe felt as awkward as a 7th-grade dance. I was torn about how to get things back on track.
So, I chartered a party boat.
It was filled with beer, snacks…and squirt guns. As my staff boarded for an afternoon on the lake, they were handed a plastic weapon and told, “Leave your title at the door. On this boat, we’re all equals.”
Within moments, our receptionist blasted cold water in my ear. I returned fire, but missed and drenched our sales manager. And the battle was on.
Hours later, everyone was soaked, but smiling. Arms draped over each other’s shoulders with a new respect. By focusing on the team’s mental health, they began to bond. Their problems became our problems.
And we stopped taking ourselves so seriously.
Watch the full TED Talk on Humor In Leadership https://www.humorseriously.com/ted-talk