Key Leadership Trait #4 – a Sense of Humor

As my series on the top 10 leadership traits, according to Forbes Magazine, continues we move onto the #4 spot – you need a Sense of Humor!

I should actually start this one with a joke…

A grasshopper walks into a bar and the bartender day “Hey – we have a drink named after you!”  To which the grasshopper says “Ya?  You have a drink called Bob?”


I love that one.


A sense of humour is important… every day.

We all want to enjoy our work and our workplace.  We want to look forward to heading out to work every day.  To make this a reality many things need to happen.  Challenge, accomplishment, camaraderie, comfort and more.  But it also has to be fun.   As a leader, we need to create an environment that has some humour in it – that is fun.  Every day.  If you are managing a project team, a group of BAs or a division of a large organization this is for you. You need to find a way to lighten up the atmosphere so you hear that, among other things, this is a fun place to be.  It can’t just be “we had fun sometime last month’.


A sense of humour is important when things are NOT going well.

laughWe are all so busy, so stressed, so nervous about our future and in many cases, very overworked.  We need to lighten up every once in a while and this is the responsibility of today’s leaders – you.  Great leaders will make an effort to carry a smile wherever they go and to add levity to every day.   This is NOT a sign of weakness but rather a sign of strength.


I have worked in some pretty stressful environments. Business is down and the future is not looking good.  How did leadership carry this?  Not well.   There was very little that was fun in those offices.  No smiles, no jokes, no fun.  This is when a sense of humour is most important.  Regardless of how bad things are going, work still has to be fun.  Otherwise we run the risk of losing really good people and when it all turns around in the future your best people are gone. Ouch.


A sense of humour is important when we make mistakes.

We all make mistakes.  The original article about the top attributes of leaders says “Encourage your team to laugh at the mistakes instead of crying.”  Well said.  This kind of reaction makes working for an organization worth coming to everyday.   We are all in this together and no one is perfect.  So lighten up.  Let’s fix it, learn from it and not lose a good person because of it.


A sense of humour is important when things change. We all know people who do not handle change well.  I definitely have a few in my life.  When change happens and we have to go into crisis mode we need a sense of humour.  This makes the solutions easier to grasp and easier to execute.
And finally, a sense of humour could just get you the next job.  A friend recently sent me a link to an article from Workopolis entitled: Infographic: Why the other person got the job, and you didn’t.


“A Workopolis survey of over 300 hiring managers asked the question, “If it comes down to two job candidates with equal skills and work experience, what is the factor that will move you to hire one over the other?” The answer might surprise you. It certainly surprised us. Nearly half of respondents (45.37%) said they would choose the more enthusiastic candidate. This was followed in a distant second place by fit with the company culture, then that was followed in third place by sense of humour.


So to all of you leaders out there, I say stop being so serious every hour of everyday. Come on down into the trenches and lighten up the mode.  We need it.  You need it.


Graphic image provided courtesy of



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