The Role of Humor in Leadership

Winston Churchill, 1940.

Winston Churchill, 1940.

Do you normally think of humor as an important quality for a leader to have? Before I read Al Mohler’s The Conviction to Lead: 25 Principles for Leadership That Matters (Bethany House, 2012), I didn’t. I thought of humor as something that might add to the character appeal or charisma of a leader, but not really as important, or even a virtue.

But consider what Dr. Mohler has to say about the way that humor can be used to serve and, by showing humility, build respect among those you serve as a leader:

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“We are not called to be comedians or humorists, but the effective leader knows that generous, self-deprecating humor is a gift that leaders can give to the people they serve.

“Humor humanizes and warms the heart. Those who follow you know that you have weaknesses and foibles, so let them share in the humor you direct at yourself. Humor should never be used at another’s expense, but it can be used to make people feel at ease, to relieve tension, and even to affirm humanity. Humor must never be crude or disrespectful, but it can build respect.

“… Leaders know how to laugh with their team, with their people, with the public, and at themselves. Humor is a public admission that leaders are completely human, and that, in itself, is a virtue” (155-156).

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NOTE: In this book, Dr. Mohler (President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) has some wonderful things to say about many topics, including reading and the use of social media for leaders. Stay tuned for posts on these!

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2 comments

  1. charlottecarrendar

    Amen. One of our Prime Minister’s demonstrated this during the 80’s appearing on national TV, drunk and telling the Australian people that anyone who sacked a person for not showing up for work that day (the day we won the America’s cup) was a bum. ❤

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