Why Leaders Need To Lighten Up

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Something funny I spotted at my favourite local cafe, Kush, in Nelson.[/caption]

One of the things I love about my husband is the fact that he takes the mickey out of me. Constantly. Many a tense moment has been averted by the fact he doesn't take things (or me) too seriously - particularly when I get  a bit too sombre or ‘drama queen-ish’ for my own boots.

At this time of year, when many of us are worn out, stressed and tempers are frayed, being a bit silly, having fun or just lightening up a tad can reap huge benefits.

It's pretty difficult to be laughing and sad (or stressed) at the same time.

As a leader, you set the tone. If you're the ultimate Serious Sam and never engender fun at work, you can be darn sure there will be less laughter - and in turn, lower team energy, higher stress levels, less creativity, resilience, motivation and stamina...not to mention an epic fail on the happiness-o-meter.

In “The Levity Effect: Why it Pays to Lighten Up”, bestselling author Adrian Gostick and humourist Scott Christopher reveal how humour in the workplace has the following benefits:

  • It helps build camaraderie.
  • It increases productivity.
  • It enhances employee satisfaction and loyalty.
  • It encourages creativity and innovation for a better workplace and bigger profits.

  It doesn't have to be practical joke city. Here are just 4 ways you can inspire some lightheartedness, fun or humour into your workplace:

1. Take the Mickey out of yourself.

2. Crank up the music near the end of the day. There’s nothing like good sounds to elevate the atmosphere. My current uplifting (Southern Hemisphere) summer tune is Classic by The Knocks to kick start your office fun playlist.

3. Celebrate quirky days of the year and give out prizes for best costume or participant. For example, this coming Monday December 8th is international 'pretend to be a time traveller day'. You could have a lot of fun with that! See here for more ideas.

4. Get games. Create a space where people can hang out and play. A Wii for exercise, a ping-pong table or a chess set for a continuing game.

Finally, give up the notion that professionalism, productivity and success means being Serious Sam all the time.

In the words of famous author and cartoonist (and the King of Silliness), Dr Seuss, "I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living."

*This post was inspired by (and dedicated to) my friend Bindy, who constantly reminds me of the power of having a bit of fun at work. The way she embraces silliness brings out the child in those around her – and gives others permission to do the same.

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