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Although it’s not usually discussed as a leadership quality, this one tool is exactly what most leaders need to succeed.

Having worked with hundreds of top performing leaders worldwide, I’ve noted a common trait among them.

Great leaders always have a great sense of humor.

Just take a look at the business world. It is teeming with important decisions, difficult choices, heavy workloads, and tough competition.

Naturally, work pressure can get really intense. Stress levels rise and so do the hormones associated with stress. People respond to that tension and the typical result is a bad mood, a negative attitude and lowered productivity.

Now personally, my own tenet in the workplace is that if it isn’t fun, I don’t want to do it.

Of course, when we’re at work, we need to be productive, professional and hardworking.

But we have to introduce an element of light-hearted fun into the mix to balance out the edges, and that is exactly what smart leaders do.

“A sense of humor is part of the art of leadership, of getting along with people, of getting things done.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower

So, let’s talk about using humor in the workplace as leaders. A study conducted by Robert Half informs us that 91% of executives believe that a sense of humor is vital for career progression, while 84% of executives believe that people with a good sense of humor are better at their job.

However, humor is typically toned down at work – there’s a high probability your team isn’t regularly cracking jokes and disguising work-related information into witty quips. There’s a reason for that.

If you want to be taken seriously, don’t be so serious.

Let’s be honest, we all tend to take ourselves too seriously now and then. Sometimes, in the desire to be taken more seriously at work, many executives (and even leaders) tend to tone down their humor when they walk into the door. However, this can actually backfire.

Ironically enough, people taking themselves overly seriously are often taken less seriously by their peers. The art of using humor at work lies in using it subtly and tastefully, at the right moments.

Now, this may be difficult to do and easy to mess up, but it’s worth practicing. Smart use of humor at work exhibits maturity and the ability to see through a situation and reach your own perspective.

Well-placed, clever humor that is appropriate to the business situation will always propel your career, regardless of your designation.

Here is a brief overview of other desirable benefits of being a boss with a great sense of humor:

  • It’s A Great Stress Buster
  • It Brings the Whole Team into A Common Ground
  • It Makes Others Feel Comfortable Around You
  • It Encourages Creative Thinking
  • It Helps Establish Trust
  • It Is an Effective Morale Booster
  • It Helps Your Organization Stand Out for Its Culture

And most importantly, people will genuinely love working with you if you have a great sense of humor.

Remember: It’s up to you to set the tone.

You will find different types and amounts of humor in different companies, and in some offices, there will be no humor to be found. It really all depends entirely on the culture of the workplace itself. And you as the leader of your own team, are the one who sets the tone.

People aren’t always comfortable sharing humor – some may even find it unnecessary or not want to change their workplace attitude. And yet, for most people, the use of humor becomes second nature once they are in a relaxed environment.

During meetings and one-on-one sessions, use apropos wit and humor when you converse with your team members. Encourage your team to develop this skill for themselves as well. Your team may be holding back from fear of offending you – perhaps even from fear of not being funny. But, when the leader gets the ball rolling, it doesn’t take long for team members to start communicating more candidly and humorously.

Inject some wit in the workplace today and you’ll see morale lift immediately. We, humans, share a lot of commonalities, one of the most prominent being that we all love to laugh.

Connecting with your team through humor will lead to greater productivity and positive attitudes, but also result in a team that truly respects and enjoys working with their boss.