When was the last time you sat in the dunk tank, challenged your staff to a jousting match, or jumped onto a Velcro wall? How long has it been since you encouraged others to laugh – at you?
As I write this, it is April Fool’s Day. When is the last time you willingly played the fool?
If you are a boss, a leader of people, this is an important skill that seems to be lacking from most management courses.
In my work as an entertainer, I’ve seen all kinds of environments. The single biggest differentiating factor I have observed is the attitude of the boss. I have observed an incredibly consistent correlation between a workforce that is eager to go back to work the next day, people who enjoy their jobs, and the willingness of the boss to laugh at himself (or herself).
If you’ve ever seen my show, you know that I end with the PeoplePuppets routine. This is where I bring two people on stage and turn them into ventriloquist puppets. It is always a huge hit.
For corporate events, I prefer to use the boss and one other person. The people who hire me know this. Sometimes, the event organizers will specifically ask me NOT to use the boss. These same clients make it a point to ask that I not pick on the boss in any way during the show. Other clients are exactly the opposite. They give me all kinds of insider information about the boss to use as fodder for comedy and encourage me to use as much of it as possible.
Even without this direct input from the event organizers, it is amazing how obvious the culture of the organization is to an outsider (like myself) attending a company function. When the boss is a fun-loving individual who is able to laugh at himself, the rest of the attendees tend to have a lot more fun. Even more, they speak about their work in an excited, engaged way.
When the boss is a no-nonsense, never let their guard down, must keep up appearances at all times type of person, these events tend to be stiff, formal (regardless of dress code), and obligatory. You’d be amazed at some of the comments I have overheard from staff in the restroom, or walking by small groups.
The other casual observation I have made is that, especially for small businesses, the companies with the fun-loving bosses are growing like crazy, barely able to keep up with their success. Meanwhile, for those with the stern, don’t you ever make me look foolish bosses, the success levels have been significantly less consistent.
Play the fool. Be the first to go into the dunk tank. Lead by example that Work Should Be Fun!