Clowns in the boardroom
Humour, leadership and a creative workplace
Recently I’ve been writing about some places where clown services were a perceived good fit for an organization or event.
Today, I’d like to propose a place where people don’t imagine clown services fitting, yet, they make a great match.
There is a long tradition of clowns, fools and jesters being a part of life at court and assisting top leaders in their decision making processes. Their humour and wit helped understand, experience and express humility. They kept things, light, lively and moving along creatively.
The feudal courts of the past are now today’s boardrooms. Humour today is more important than ever.
In a recent article published in the peer reviewed journal Frontiers in Psychology, researchers Hassan Ali, Asif Mahmood, Ayaz Ahmad and Amir Ikram studied the impacts of a leaders humour on creativity and workplace culture.
The most remarkable finding for this fool?
They discovered that self deprecating humour by leaders had the most positive impacts with regard to taking risks, attempting positive creative cultural transgressions and supporting a culture of both fun and humility at work.
People with a strong sense of self deprecating humour make better leaders. Their staff take ethical, not unethical creative risks. A leaders self deprecating humour can inspire creativity. Their employees experience a sense of psychological empowerment as well.
Their methodology was interesting. For reference LH stands for ‘Leaders Humour’ and LSDH stands for ‘Leader’s Self Deprecating Humour’
Quantitative data of 630 software engineers from software houses based in Pakistan provided support to test the hypotheses. The results demonstrate that LH is a double-edge sword that enhances blessing (creativity) as well as curse (employee unethical behavior), whereas LSDH augments the blessing and throttles back the curse. Theoretical and managerial implications have also been discussed.
So where does the fool come in?
The cook and drug dealer saw clowns and thought of children. The sports bar manager JORDO! saw clowns and thought of spectacle.
They were both right, but missed something essential.
Clown training is all about being funny.
Everyone is funny in their own way.
Clowns know how to laugh at themselves.
Clowns are not only the kings of self deprecating humour, but also, of the timing of the humour for best impact.
Great leaders need a great sense of humour.
Well trained clowns can help them develop it, in doing so, they can help to increase creativity, risk taking and humility while building trust and reducing unethical behaviour.
Still don’t believe me?