Appropriate humour, especially soft deprecating humour, is a valuable leadership skill.
Employed with emotional maturity and respectful sensitivity to others, a humorous line or metaphor or story adds a lot of the genuineness and integrity to leadership.
The clever use of humour is another example of risk-taking in leadership. The more risks you take (and learn from them quickly) the more skillful you become at using humour appropriately.
I was fortunate enough to provide leadership training in China over a 10 year period with senior party cadres. I was repeatedly cautioned by my Foreign Affairs minders in Australia to never use humour and certainly never use cartoons. ‘The cultural differences are a minefield,’ I was told. ‘You will cause offence’.
Unflinchingly I used jokes, humour, cartoons and one-liners to an enormously successful reception.
All peoples, all cultures, love to laugh at serious things and to laugh at themselves. Using thoughtful humour is respectful matching. Perhaps, maybe, only politicians don’t appreciate humour and given their elevated status this may set a poor precedent for all leaders.
Cartoons are also amazingly appropriate although many caution against using them especially.
Gary Larson’s cartoons were my favourite but now fortunately, though late in life, I have discovered Stu Heinecke.
He says ‘cartoons, in fact, all forms of humour, are about truth revealed with a twist’ . Elsewhere he says ‘cartoons are the purest, most direct form of persuasion I’ve ever seen.’
He is a leader among cartoonists and makes amazing cartoons of leadership.
If you want to be a better, funnier leader, read his books, subscribe to his blog.
His book, How to get a meeting with anyone, about contact marketing is a beautiful leadership connection manual.
If you want more support with your leadership humour please feel free to contact me.