Doing a couple of team building programs in the past week I witnessed something quite remarkable. On two separate occasions I saw the team leaders using humor in their communications as they interacted with their teams. The difference was quite startling.
One leader continually put her/his team on the defensive by using humor to attack. There was a lot of laughter. A lot of the things said were very witty. But the comments, although funny, created tension within the group. I’m sure the leader was just trying to be funny, but the humor was biting. Often times, it was at the expense of someone in the group. Everyone tried to take it good naturedly, but you could see damage being done.
In the other instance the team leader that used humor, was comforting and added to the team spirit. This leader was very observant. He/she used situations as the palette for the humor. Any cutting humor concerned only him/her. He/she was able to laugh at himself/herself in a way that wasn’t critical of the team or their efforts. The team was very much at ease. They enjoyed the laughs in a much more comfortable way.
Great leadership uses humor in a way that creates comfort, not tension.
Points to Ponder –
How well do you use humor in the work
What is the effect of humor coming from the situation, rather than being pointed at someone?
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