Laughter & Leadership: How Humor Can Make You a Better Leader


Don’t think humor is a serious business? It’s more than the best medicine: it’s good business. Jennifer Bridges, PMP, shows you how leadership is bolstered by laughter.

Here’s a screenshot of the whiteboard for your reference.

how laughter helps leadership

In Review – Laughter & Leadership – How Humor Can Make You a Better Leader

Humor is a double-edged sword. It can harm as easily as it can shield. But humor is more than just a joke: it’s a way to change perspective, and offer a new angle on which to view things and let off steam.

It’s not often brought up as an attribute of leadership, but it’s just the tool leaders need. Jennifer said it reduces not only stress but the hormones associated with stress. In fact, laughter releases endorphins that promote an overall sense of well-being. Who doesn’t need a blast of that in the midst of a stressful project?

Related: How to Be Happy at Work (Happier, at Least)

What We Know About Stress

Jennifer went on to quote some statistics about stress. According to a 2001 report, 40 percent of job turnover is due to stress. This also can cause conflict, even violent conflict, on the job site.

The benefit of working in a less stressful environment is cutting down on healthcare expenditures, which are nearly 50 percent greater for workers who say they’re under high levels of stress.

How Stress Impacts People

According to a Gallup poll, actively disengaged employees erode an organization’s bottom line while breaking the spirit of colleagues in the process. The cost in the US is estimated to be more than $300 billion in lost productivity alone

What Are the Positive Benefits of Laughter?

So, what does laughter have to do with any of this? Jennifer listed the benefits of laughter.

  • Diffuses bad stress
  • Enhances problem-solving skills
  • Creates a new perspective
  • Elevates moods
  • Fosters better communication
  • Improves cooperation and empathy among people.

You can see that it’s not only a relief from stress but works on many different fronts to make the workplace more efficient and productive.

Related: 10 Conflict Resolution Strategies that Actually Work

How to Use Laughter as a Leader

But laughter is dangerous, you say. It can undercut one’s authority. That is a concern, of course, but one Jennifer takes on because it also helps people perceive leaders as more approachable and supportive.

That’s a big plus in getting teams to perform better and helping them through the rough patches of a project. Here’s what Jennifer suggests:

  • Adjust your leadership style and use emotional intelligence to be more empathetic and understanding of others’ emotional needs.
  • Tell stories about yourself that allow people to relate to you, and see that there are more similarities than differences.
  • Allow laughter in the workplace: don’t shut down the “office jester,” but allow them appropriate space to add a bit of levity to the workplace.

Once you’ve learned how to incorporate humor in an acceptable manner then you’ll find that humor is making you a better leader. That’s because humor gets people more comfortable and connected. It also improves morale, productivity and engagement.

Pro-Tip: If you’re looking for some activities you can do at work that will help break down barriers and help set the groundwork for laughter, try these fun team bonding games. They’ll not only lighten the mood but tighten the group and further help everyone work better.

Thanks for watching!


Today, we’re talking about laughter and leadership, and how humor can actually make you a better leader. We probably all heard that laughter is the best medicine. Well, why do we say that?

Well, humor helps to reduce stress hormones, and also release endorphins that promote an overall sense of well-being. I don’t know about you, but I want that for myself and I also want that for the people on my team.

Well, what do we know about stress? Well, there’s a lot of research out there about stress, and it shows that 40% of job turnover is due to stress.

We also know that healthcare expenditures are nearly 50% greater for workers who report high levels of stress. And what else do we know?

Well, we also know how stress impacts people in our organization and on our teams.

The Gallup has research that shows actively disengaged employees erode the organization’s bottom line while breaking the spirit of colleagues in the process. And the cost in the U.S is estimated to be more than $300 billion in lost productivity alone.

Well, what are some of the positive benefits of laughter? Well, we know that it defuses bad stress. It also enhances problem solving skills, creates a new perspective by allowing people just to relax and engage with each other.

It elevates moods of the people on the team, fosters better communication between people, and improves cooperation, empathy among people.

And again, if you have teams, if you have projects and organizations, all of these benefits are very important.

So how do you use laughter as a leader without losing authority? Because some people tend to think of laughter is just being silly, and fun, and games, but people report that they perceive leaders who use humor and laughter to be more approachable and supportive.

Well, how do they do that? Well, first of all, they adjust their leadership style and use emotional intelligence. By doing this, you can sometimes detect when there are people who are on your team.

Maybe they’re shy, they’re reserved, or even maybe they’re shut down. Maybe they’re upset about something. So using humor and laughter can pull these people together.

Telling stories, some of the best leaders and some of the best speakers I’ve seen are people who can tell great stories. And people like that because it makes them feel more relatable.

How do they do that? They’re telling stories about themselves. Sometimes they use funny stories about kids or their pets. Things that people can relate to, that again, people can say, “What? You too?” And they begin to think, “Hey, maybe you’re a little bit more like me than I thought.”

Also allowing laughter in the workplace, allow the office jokester. There’s usually that one in the crowd. Let them be a part. They’re very instrumental in pulling people together.

I’ll never forget when I first started work after college, I had a great group that I worked with and we worked really long hours and weekends.

And we just had a lot of fun together and we’ll never forget, we actually talk about it, like, 30 years later, where the boss we had came running out one time and had the vein popping out of his neck and said, “Stop laughing.”

And we’re like, “What?” And so, laughter actually pulled our group together and we were very close and we helped each other a lot.

So, how humor makes you a better leader is it gets people comfortable. Not only with you, but also the group, and it makes them feel connected. It also improves morale, productivity, engagement, and I submit, creativity.

So if you need additional resources about how you can become a better leader, then sign up for our software now at

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