How to Inspire Your Subordinates with Good Humour

Bringing humour into the workplace is a great way to inspire and motivate your employees. However, not all humour is appropriate for the workplace. According to Mike Myatt, contributor to, “The timely and appropriate use of humour is an asset to any leader. Likewise, distasteful or inappropriately timed humour can be a significant liability.” An effective leader knows how to bring a balance of good humour and professionalism into any workplace environment. This article will discuss steps on how to inspire subordinates with good humour.

1. Take Your Role as a Leader Seriously  

Before you can embark on bringing humour into the workplace, you need to completely understand what your role is as a leader and take it seriously. Your job as a leader is your first priority. Humour can be utilized in your management techniques. However, it should never usurp your leadership tactics completely. Winston Churchill once said, “Humour is a very serious thing.” If you want to become an effective leader, you should take his words to heart.

2. See the Difference Between Good & Bad Humour   

Once you make the decision to implement using humour in the workplace as an inspirational tool, you first need to understand the basics. There is a difference between good and bad humour and what is acceptable, especially as it pertains to the work environment. The methods you use in bringing humour will either inspire or demotivate your employees. Also, remember that the techniques you use will be emulated by your subordinates. If bad humour is used and can be deemed as sarcastic or hurtful, you will only alienate your subordinates and cultivate resentment.

3. Learn How to Laugh at Yourself

An effective leader knows how to laugh at him or herself. According to Mike Myatt, “When leaders understand the difference between false humility (self-serving) and authentic self-deprecating humour (benefiting others)—things quickly transition from awkward to funny.” It is important to find humour in the everyday experiences and learn how to bring a light-hearted attitude into the workplace. When leaders can laugh at the mistakes they make and challenges they face, those situations can be utilized as learning moments.

4. Choose the Perfect Moment

The step is where an effective leader knows how to choose the perfect moment to bring humour into the workplace. A meeting with a new client might not be the best time to bring humour into the scenario. However, the next staff meeting is an appropriate place for humour, provided it is not juvenile. A general rule of thumb is that if the situation is a serious one, remain professional. If the situation is more relaxed, bring the levity into the situation to motivate and inspire your employees.

Inspiring your subordinates with good humour begins with taking your role as a leader seriously. If you would rather be a comedian than a leader, you are not going to motivate your employees to follow your lead for the long haul. It is important to also understand the difference between good and bad humour and what is appropriate for the workplace. Effective leaders know how to laugh at their own mistakes and challenges. They also know how to choose the perfect moment to utilize good humour.


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