The Five Benefits of Workplace Levity

I discovered something quite interesting while on my morning run the other day. I was listening to a podcast talk that turned incredibly funny. My discovery? It is impossible to run at pace while laughing. While I don’t yet have anything from science to back up this phenomena, I believe it to be similar and convincingly true for the sprint of leadership as well. How easy is it for you to laugh while running hard at work?

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In our day-in-and-out work life we can become plagued by complexity and challenge. Without intentional care and attention, our jobs can become laborious tasks and begin to weaken in purpose. It is for this reason that levity can play a vital role in building healthy climate and culture across our workspaces.

Do you have work norms that can go light on the people when mistakes are made? Can your colleagues make light of the challenges the team faces? When was the last time you broke from your race pace at work to simply laugh with others?

There is a little success where there is little laughter.” –Andrew Carnegie

As leaders, each of us has the authority and responsibility to shape our work place cultures and model levity in times of stress and uncertainty. Beyond the immediate benefits of stress release, there are a number of very constructive reasons to spread a little sunshine at work.

The Five Benefits of Workplace Levity

  1. Imagine-ability: Laughter breaks up the ho–hum, helps our minds refocus from the blurriness of routine and opens the intellect to capitalize on new ideas and solutions.
  1. Comfort-ability: While the gravity of purpose is an important motivator, leaders must accept the fact that stress can also serve quite negatively to overall organizational morale, health and the ability to work as productive teams.
  2. Depend-ability: When leaders approach their teams with lightheartedness, they consistently increase their capital in terms of openness and trust which is essential in delivering calibrated support, challenge and empowerment across the organization.
  3. Deliver-ability: From both research and common observation ends the spectrum, it is well understood that when teams are having fun in the workplace, the tasks flow more efficiently and with heightened performance.
  4. Retain-ability: Leaders who promote the qualities of humor and laughter within the work environment are also those celebrating less turnover and attrition of their best talent.

Leadership Take Home

Lighten up and lead! Initiate and encourage the benefits of humor within your organization. Model respect in your wit and others will follow. Stand up, and then stand back to watch your leadership influence and your organization become more innovative and productive.

Laugher for the Week

A young executive is leaving the office late one evening when he finds the CEO standing in front of a shredder with a piece of paper in his hand.

“Listen,” said the CEO, “This is a very sensitive and important document here, and my secretary has gone for the night. Can you make this thing work for me?”

“Certainly,” the young executive says. He turns the machine on, inserts the paper, and presses the start button.

“Excellent, excellent!” says the CEO as his paper disappears inside the machine. “I just need one copy.”

Keep smiling!

Two Ways to Alienate Your Employees

I’m going to venture to say that zero of you roll out of bed and, on your way to work, recite this narrative in your head;

“I can’t wait to get to work today so I can alienate those around me! I’m so excited to create a bigger gap between Lois and me. I so look forward to the low morale, lack of productivity and pain that I will cause others as I interact with them throughout the day.”

If that’s what you’re after, I have just the solution! Here are two methods that one of our Executive Core participants poked fun at that I know will guarantee to help you effectively alienate others:


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Strategy #1: The Dump and Yell Method

The “Dump and Yell” Method is a mode of operation proven to create maximum frustration through isolation and works like this:

Step 1: Tell people what to do.

Step 2: Give them all the information you think they need to know.

Step 3: Yell when they don’t do it.

The missing links? Apprenticeship. Vision. Encouragement. Someone intentionally walking with others who can bring the support and challenge needed for them to actually do what’s been asked. (Hint: They are probably not doing it because they don’t know how and they are afraid to come back to you to ask.)

New leadership perspective for you: When someone is stuck, it is your responsibility; it’s not the other person’s fault.

Strategy #2: The “Do It!” Method

This one is easy. Here is the mantra: ​Which part of “do it” did you not understand? Do, or it?

Some of us have a short fuse and low patience when it comes to walking with people. We are often married to the idea that it is the problem that remains with the person, that they have all they need.

New leadership perspective for you: Slow down. Take time with your people. Don’t assume they know how; show them how. Share your experiences. Model. Consider taking the time to do whatever the “it” task is with them so that you actually raise their capacity.

Are you alienating people? How are you going to turn that isolation into invitation?