We know that outstanding leadership can make the difference in employee morale and productivity. But what happens when leadership imparts humor and risk into the equation? When you think of the factors that stand out in your mind and the companies and leadership that made a difference in your career, what comes up? What was the culture like? Was change uncomfortable or did management know how to navigate it?
An exceptional leader embraces change. They are comfortable with taking risks. They know that trying a new path is more about the experience and growth, than the fear of change. Nothing in life is ever a straight path. But it is the twists and turns that take us on a new road that leads to innovation. Risk and change not only involves a new project but having faith and courage in the employees, the backbone of the company. Leaders must be comfortable with going outside their comfort zone. They know the direction of the company. Now they must engage the team and trust the process as it unfolds. That letting go moves you forward.
Humor in the office is one of the most important elements. When management interjects humor in the workplace it can lighten up a tense situation. It is the connector that brings people together and one of the key components to maintaining emotional intelligence. Science has shown that mirror neurons play an important role in how we behave. They activate in us what we see in others, and our emotions are contagious. A leader that comes into the office cranky, is the emotional sender and sets the stage for the feelings of his team. Studies have shown that when an employee is getting positive feedback and it is being delivered by a person who is displaying negative emotions. The employee comes out feeling bad even though the feedback is positive. Conversely, a warm, concerning manager delivering negative feedback, the employee feels the caring emotion and feels good. Research has shown that laughter reduces the stress hormones that can block creativity and productivity. Since our mirror neurons play such a huge role in how others feel and productivity can increase, isn't that a good enough reason to add lightheartedness in the workplace?
Leaders that manage their feelings and set the stage for positivity in the office create a culture of motivated and willing employees. Our mindset affects our attitude and optimism can lead to greater outcomes. When leaders know how to regulate their emotions and build a culture of "can do” the employees look up to and respect the leader. Leaders that are positive in the office become a guide post for others to follow. We all know that the workplace is not always fun and games and frutration and stress do occur. But when we learn to manage our emotions, we are able to acknowledge the feelings and can deliberately take the appropriate response and actions, to reduce the tension and stress.
Why not make the office a place to accomplish work but in a fun, positive environment? Where laughter and change can increase creativity and productivity. Or do you take the opposite approach and risk the chance of getting stuck and creating an atmosphere of drudgery and watching the clock? Which sounds more inviting to you? Please feel free to share your comments and thank you for reading.
Colleen Cassel is a people management expert. Working with organizations and leaders to increase greater performance and overall wellbeing. She is a Senior Consultant with the Potential Project, helping to improve performance, focus and working more effectively. Connect with Colleen @colleencassel and on Upstream Solutions.