Skip to content

Find the Levity in Your Leadership (#163)


The Confident Leader


Every year for over a decade we’ve hosted a fall event to honor good leadership. Then Covid hit. Last year was the first year we even considered doing an in-person event. Our idea was a little out in left field.

“Laughter is the shortest distance between friends.”

— Victor Borge (Danish-American comedian)

This Week’s Edition

Did you know that humor can be an incredibly powerful tool that leaders can leverage to completely alter the trajectory of certain situations?  

Clarify Your Thinking

Last year, my wife, Karen, found an improv comedy troupe called Four Day Weekend. We bought out the venue and invited 100 leaders and laughed until it hurt. We had so much fun we did it again this year. 

Our original thinkings was, “no one wants to go to a work ‘thing’ anymore. Let’s do something different – a fun night out with no semblance of a pre-Covid work event.”

We leaders need to laugh. We need to blow off some steam. We need to not take ourselves so seriously. These statements seem like common sense, but in today’s leadership world, humor is in short supply given the gravity of most everyone’s situations.

Leaders might think, “I can’t be funny when things are so serious.” This type of thinking can cause leaders to over-index on their serious side and miss a strategic opportunity to interject a little levity leaving work as a humorless endeavor.

Old Thinking: This is serious business. I have to be serious to be taken seriously by my team. If I interject any humor it won’t fit the moment or at worst will be taken out of context. I’ll stick to serious.

New Thinking: I didn’t know levity or humor was a leadership strategy. I should learn more about that and the appropriate use of it in certain situations.

Thoughts Lead to Actions

After hosting our event last year, we discovered a book, “Humor, Seriously” co-authored by two women associated with Stanford, a professor and a lecturer/executive coach. 

In the book they lay out their argument for how levity and humor is a secret weapon that can be used as a highly effective tool for leaders to accomplish serious things. 

Because their findings show that humor is vastly under leveraged in most workplaces, the authors do a remarkable job of educating us leaders on how to wield humor with intention.

Interestingly, the bar is fairly low. Merely looking for the levity in a situation is the onramp to humor. From there taking baby steps toward intentional humor in appropriate situations can completely alter serious situations for the positive. 

If you are somewhat skeptical, here are some benefits of humor:

  • Makes you appear more competent and confident
  • Strengthens relationships
  • Unlocks creativity
  • Boosts our resilience during difficult times

Having read the book cover to cover, I’m recommending it fully. Should you be interested, take these next steps:

Step 1: Recognize your team might benefit from you honing the intentional skill of humor.

Step 2: Buy the book, Humor, Seriously

Step 3: “Fend off a permanent and unsightly frown known as ‘resting boss face,’” as the authors suggest.

Look for the levity in situations. Decided that you can hone an intentional skill of humor. The best part… none of this requires you to be a comedian. We’ll leave that to the pros. 

Boost Your Performance

We reached out to the authors to get their thoughts. They were kind enough to send us a video message for our annual Lead with Laughter event we hosted last Tuesday as part of the inaugural National Confident Leader Week. Watch it here.

What’s Your Opinion?

What’s one way you can leverage humor in your day to day? Share it with me at

If you are going to be a leader, you might as well be a good one. Don’t let doubt count you out. Have a confident week!

Robin Pou, Chief Advisor and Strategist

We live to make bad leadership extinct so forward this newsletter to others who strive to be confident leaders. 


Let’s Connect

Follow me on LinkedinFacebook and Twitter.

What is “The Confident Leader”?

During the Covid-19 Pandemic, I began a video series called “Panic or Plan?” It was designed to equip leaders to navigate the doubt they experienced and to rise in the confidence they needed to lead during turbulent times. It took off. I then started this newsletter to equip leaders in the same fashion each week for the doubt that crashes across the bow of their leaderSHIP.