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Old 03-20-2020, 09:43 AM
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Exclamation How Humor Can Be A Leader’s Friend In A Crisis

How Humor Can Be A Leader’s Friend In A Crisis
By: John Baldoni - Leadership Strategy & Forbes News - 03-20-20

There’s an old show business adage that seems perfect for our times. “Life is easy,” goes the saying. “Comedy is hard.”

And so when I connected with Trevor Smith, who bills himself as Certified Laughter Leader of the World Laughter Tour, Inc., I knew he would have some good advice for leaders dealing with the hard times of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We use humor in crises to provide perspective and help us deal with the emotional turmoil and stress that we might be dealing with,” says Smith, a therapist by training. “Humor also helps us in crises that help us develop a clear insight into our decision making and problem-solving abilities.”

Smith says, “Humor is a great tool to use in a crisis that helps us look at that situation in a positive way that will us deal with the crisis. Humor lightens one's burdens, inspires hopes, and keeps you grounded, focused and alert. With so much power to heal and renew, the ability to laugh easily and frequently is a tremendous resource in confronting any crisis situation.”

Leadership levity

Getting people to loosen up is a comedian or therapist's job, but with the pandemic upon us, leaders need to be vigilant about the emotional needs of their employees. Working in isolation can be taxing. It's up to a leader to keep people focused but also engaged. Humor can lubricate the situation in ways that enable people, if only for a moment, to forget the crisis.

Two of our greatest presidents made ample use of humor. Abraham Lincoln was an inveterate storyteller, and he loved regaling his friends and associates with stories he had picked up from his days as a circuit rider lawyer in backwoods Illinois. The burdens of the Civil War did not stop him from indulging in humor.

Franklin Roosevelt loved good stories, as well as gossip. His daily routine was to mix cocktails for his guests at 6 p.m. After they were made, the group would relax a bit and indulge in light-hearted chatter. It was a tonic for the enormity of the Depression and later the Second World War.

Humor now

Humor is especially warranted now. “Humor lightens one’s burdens, inspires hope, and keeps us focused and alert in difficult times,” says Smith, who teaches a psychology of humor course at Springfield College in Massachusetts. “With so much power to heal and renew, the ability to laugh easily and frequently is a tremendous resource in confronting any disruption in our life. Humor It is a wonderful diversion that brings positive feelings and emotions."

And leaders need to loosen up. With access to the internet, sources of humor are only a click away. "You can watch clips of funny comedians, or sitcoms,” says Smith. “Call up a friend and spend time laughing with him or her on the phone.”

According to Smith, the best kind of humor at work is the type that "reminds [us] that we cannot take life too seriously. It is important to remember to laugh at things that happen in everyday life."

Great quips from a great man

One leader who was not above poking fun at himself was Winston Churchill, who was present at many of Roosevelt cocktail hours, and in fact, complained that he didn’t like the way the president made them. Churchill was a great raconteur, as well as a gifted quipster. Consider these three:

“In the course of my life, I have often had to eat my words, and I must confess that I have always found it a wholesome diet."

"Personally, I'm always ready to learn, although I do not always like being taught."

“I am ready to meet my Maker. Whether my Maker is prepared for the great ordeal of meeting me is another matter."

A leader who tells jokes on himself is one who demonstrates a kind of vulnerability that encourages followers to see the real person behind the title. It positions the leader if not exactly one of us, then one close to us. And now that so many employees are working from home, a leader who can apply humor is insightful and resourceful.

About this writer: John Baldoni - I am an internationally recognized leadership educator and executive coach. The focus of my speaking and coaching is helping women and men learn to lead with greater purpose and grace.


Personal note: I agree humor takes the stress out changes the way our chemistry is effecting our current demeanor. Smooths our the rough spots and takes stress away.
It's a safety valve to enlighten those around you and take away stress. Without it - we are doomed. So add levity into your life and smile and laugh - its better then taking two more aspirins and growling all afternoon. Life is short being mad all the time will take a toll on your life and shorten it in most cases.


O Almighty Lord God, who neither slumberest nor sleepest; Protect and assist, we beseech thee, all those who at home or abroad, by land, by sea, or in the air, are serving this country, that they, being armed with thy defence, may be preserved evermore in all perils; and being filled with wisdom and girded with strength, may do their duty to thy honour and glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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