“Laugh, and … well, you won’t get the whole world laughing with you, but you might get your team to unite behind you. Managers tend to shy away from humour, believing that in some way it will undermine their dignity, but the opposite is true, according to research by Marco Sampietro, a professor at SDA Bocconi School of Management in Milan, Italy.

“In all countries, leaders using humour is seen in a positive way,” he said, “but bosses did not use humour because they felt it would challenge their leadership.” In practice, the opposite is true: good leaders are humourous and recognise that shared humour can bond teams.

This does not mean that starting a joke-a-day scheme or even, as some American companies do, hiring a humour consultant is going to be useful. “Humour is not positive in itself,” Professor Sampietro explained. “It’s the way it’s promoted that’s important.” Effective leaders are not necessarily stand-up comedians — too much humour can create the impression that they are not taking work goals seriously — but create conditions in which good humour flourishes.

The first step is to get rid of rules that limit humour and to create an environment that recognises its value. Don’t worry too much about whether people will cross the line into unacceptable jokes. “People are not stupid. They are able to understand what’s useful for their productivity,” he said. “But it is positive to try to explain the type of humour that can offend.””

… Enjoy this article at the Times here: http://feeds.timesonline.co.uk/c/32313/f/440135/s/5f08965/l/0L0Stimesonline0O0Ctol0Cbusiness0Cmanagement0Carticle681750A60Bece0Tcid0FOTC0ERSS0Gattr0F1185799/story01.htm

Management briefing: Humour
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