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The Laughing Leader

Ironically, it is the laughing leader and not the stern, hostile and menacing leader who gets things done in the office. Like the laughing gas (nitrous oxide), the therapeutic and productivity effects of the laughing leader on the people and business is instant and impactful.

The laughing leader gets things done, and better

The next time your company needs a leader who can effectively mobilize, motivate and inspire its employees and move the business along the path of profitability, look in the direction of the laughing leader. The laughing leader! Yes, you heard right.

A leader who can radiate brightness in his own personal life, counts his blessings often in spite of personal difficulties or setback, beams a reassuring smile in the middle of challenging situations signaling that everything is under control, brings humour into conversations, and spend the greater part of his time spreading happiness to motivate people for greater performance.

The laughing leader understands the interplay between leadership and humour and exploits this to the full benefits of his company and the society.

Dwight D. Eisenhower, a former American President said, “A sense of humour is part of the art of leadership, of getting along with people, of getting things done.” Leading people and managing businesses are difficult ventures in entrepreneurship.

Many young and aspiring managers who got to management positions have come to realize that it is hard to lead people and manage businesses. More often than not, they are at their wits end, and snap. They are emotionally defeated. They become bitter, hostile and yell at their subordinates at every slightest provocation. Some become mentally broken and never fully recovered again.

It is time to switch your approach, and learn to become a laughing leader.

Not the typical stand-up comedian

We are not talking about becoming a jester. The laughing leader is not the typical clown or stand-up comedian who cracks jokes to entertain his audience. He is not the weak leader that can be tossed around by office politics or external forces in the marketplace.

The emotionally intelligent leader

The laughing leader is the self-assured, matured and emotionally intelligent leader who smiles, is humorous, can laugh and have fun, and uses humour to manage people in order to inspire, motivate and build his team for better performance and effectiveness.

Laughter is contagious

Laughter, which is the greatest tool of the laughing leader is a contagious human behaviour and a “visual expression of a number of positive emotional states, such as joy, mirth, happiness, relief” as defined by Wikipedia. It denotes happiness, humour, conviviality, camaraderie, courtesy, consideration, vibrancy, positivism and soundness of health.

Robert Provine, a laughter researcher said that “laughter is a mechanism everyone has: laughter is part of universal human vocabulary.” He argued that while there are thousands of languages, hundreds of thousands of dialects across the world, everyone speaks laughter in the same way in spite of race, colour, gender or geographical location.

Laughter, Humour and Leadership

Laughter and humour have been closely correlated to effectiveness in leadership and productivity. Bell Leadership Institute found that the two most desirable traits in leaders were a strong work ethic and a good sense of humour. This is why the laughing leader is distinguished from his counterpart that is stern and hard-looking.

In addition, the laughing leaders are known to do better jobs and rapidly progress in their career. Their mirth is the charm that propel them to motivate their employees, impress their bosses and swim through the murky waters of office politics to move their careers forward.

Robert Half International Survey corroborated this in its report that stated that “84% felt that people with a good sense of humour do a better job”. It went further to state that “91% of executives believe that a sense of humour is important in career advancement.”

Such is the case of Southwest Airline that created a positive fun culture and used humour to brand their business, attract and retain employees and attract customers and sustain their loyalty to their brand.

When the company has a laughing leader

The laughing leader is personally effective. He is not sloppy. He is not lazy. He is sharp. He is focused. He is alert. He is active, proactive and always on point. He has an antidote for stress, pain and conflict, hence he is good at his job. He uses humour to lighten his burdens, inspire hope and connect others.

There is no greater way to build and sustain a team momentum than through the deft handling of the laughing leader. He knows how to use laughter and humour to strengthen relationships among the staff, improve team spirit and camaraderie. The laughing leader does not pretend that conflicts will go away on their own. He uses his charisma to manage conflicts and office politics productively.

The laughing leader can motivate. His attitude is infectious. Much more than sneeze. He is able to create happiness and give his employees a sense of ownership, thereby promoting commitment to the company’s mission and objectives.

Laughing is the best antidote for stress, and the laughing leader uses it to eliminate stress among the team as he builds a culture of fun and conviviality.

Adult learn better in an environment that is relaxed and congenial. The laughing leader is a teacher, coach and mentor who uses humour to communicate knowledge and transfer skills to the employees.

The laughing leader uses laughter to promote health and wellness. Wikipedia claimed that “laughter can help prevent heart disease by increasing blood flow and improving the function of blood vessels.” It listed some of the emotional benefits of laughter to include “diminishing anxiety or fear, improving overall mood and adding joy to one’s life.”

The laughing leader succeeds in excellent customer service because he creates a work culture that promotes fun, and creates a crop of happy employees that are willing to give it their best in serving their customers.

The lighter side of life

Is life becoming a burden? Are your employees less cooperative? Are results not positive in spite of your best efforts? Brighten up! It is time to release the child in you! The average adult laughs 15 to 20 times a day. But, the average baby is said to laugh 300 to 400 times a day. Maya Angelou counseled that you should laugh as much as possible because it is the sweetest thing you can do for both yourself and others around you.

You should move up to the lighter side of life. Become a laughing leader. You should stop taking yourself too serious. In failure or success, laugh at yourself. Laugh at your situations. Keep things in perspective. Deal with your stress, and bring out the child in you!

Author: Babatunde Fajimi

First published in The Union Newspaper on Sunday, April 5, 2015 

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