Back in September of last year, we focused one of our #bealeader Tweetchat conversations on Leadership and Fun. My mind was drawn back to that conversation yesterday as it was April Fool’s Day. I noticed many companies, leaders on and offline seem to take up the gauntlet of the day to crack jokes and play pranks. Some were in poor taste and some were very silly. As it stands with humor, humor is very subjective. What is funny to you may not play to a broader audience. Many take humor too far and some use humor to hurt others. Humor has a fine line – and if you don’t know your audience, you can make or break your audience quickly. Unfortunately, the internet doesn’t have a sarcasm button which makes matters worse and there are many who cannot tell if you are being sarcastic or silly – same thing happens in real life actually. You may think you are being sarcastic and funny and it comes across as biting.
Even with the pitfalls, you should try to break up the tension with humor. As one of my favorite songwriters Jimmy Buffett says, “If we couldn’t laugh, we would all go insane” and humor can bring levity to the office and your leadership. Do you really want to be known as the stuff-shirt who inhabits the corner office? People relate to humor, we all experience leadership better when its personal, we can share a laugh and break up together over a good joke.
The best way to know if your brand of humor will work, is to get know your team. Build a rapport with your team, and establish a connection before you break out the jokes. Make the conversations light, don’t force the humor. I know there are many folks are not naturally gifted in the humor department, that’s okay, we all have our gifts. If this is you, don’t worry. You can still find ways to lighten the mood. Not everyone has to be Robin Williams. The point isn’t to be a comedian; the point is to be human. Leadership is personal, it’s the connections we make with each other that matters not the jokes. No one will remember that April Fool’s Joke but they will remember how you made them feel.