Leadership Style: Self-Deprecating Humor Works!


Don and Derek

The Book Kahuna and his Corgi, Derek!

The Book Kahuna

Let me set the scene for you:

You work for a large publishing company, and the revenue goals are not exactly what the higher-up executives expected them to be at this point in time. The entire company has been called into a meeting to go over the goals and initiatives that should be in place and successfully reaping revenue benefits. The mood is highly stressful and there is not one smile on the face of anyone in the room. People are tense, nervous and fearing for their jobs. There are two distinct ways you could go with the situation.

  1. The first way would be to instill more fear into those assembled in the conference room. This seems to be the tactic that is used most frequently in corporate board rooms these days. “We’re not making money, so we’re going to beat on you some more to drag more and more out of you.” We probably end up with the same result anyway. The high-stress factor meeting will only yield higher stress levels on the staff and make them more afraid. People who are afraid only work hard enough not to get fired.
  2. The second way to handle this situation is for the leadership to actually use humor as a tool to break the stress and instill a higher level of satisfaction in the staff. I’ve personally found that a few well-placed comments joking about your own foibles will go a long way toward breaking the stress monster. I’ve managed many staffs over the past 30 years, and know that managing successfully means instilling confidence and security, while alleviating fear and anxiety. An anxious team is a team on the verge of making high-level errors.

Let your staff see that you are human; it does not diminish you in the eyes of your subordinates but actually makes you look stronger and builds a bridge of loyalty and trust.



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