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How important is it for a leader to have a good sense of humor?


SmartPulse — our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Leadership — tracks feedback from more than 210,000 business leaders. We run the poll question each week in our newsletter.

How important is it for a leader to have a good sense of humor?

  • Critical. Great leaders need to laugh. 48.4%
  • Very. Humor is a core leadership trait. 42.4%
  • Kind of. We’re here for work but laughs are OK, too. 8.4%
  • Not at all. Get back to work. 0.5%
  • Not very. Humor doesn’t add a lot at work. 0.3%

Learn to laugh. A vast majority of you see a sense of humor as a key leadership skill (90%+). Humor is a great way to alleviate stress, make work enjoyable and build a sense of team. Don’t be afraid to laugh and have a good time. Just realize your sense of humor may not be the same as someone else’s. Be careful with jokes, pranks and gags, especially if they’re at someone else’s expense. One of the best forms of humor you can employ is the self-deprecating kind. Learn to laugh at yourself and stop taking yourself so seriously because, candidly, no one else does. Lighten up and let the laughs roll.

Mike Figliuolo is managing director of thoughtLEADERS. Before launching his own company, he worked at McKinsey & Co., Capital One and Scotts Miracle-Gro. He is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He’s the author of three leadership books: “One Piece of Paper,” “Lead Inside the Box” and “The Elegant Pitch.”