How often does your team laugh at work?
A CEO recently said something to me that made me think about this question. We were casually talking during a Pay it Forward workshop I held in the Midwest, and he started to talk about his people “messing around and laughing”. He went on to say that he “shut it down” and made them get back to work. I got real curious about his mindset and asked why the laughter bothered him.
As expected, he was making assumptions that they weren’t working as hard as he does. So I asked him the following questions:
- How much time do your people spend at work on a given week?
- How much time do they spend commuting back and forth to work?
- How long does it take them to get ready for work?
- How much do you guess they think or stress about work?
After some more tough questions he finally said, “Wow…they’re really sacrificing a lot to help me.”
I could tell we were on the right track. I knew he has two young kids at home, so I finally asked him the most important question that helped him fully connect to the lesson:
Do you enjoy hearing your kids laugh?
Why should leaders pay more attention to laughter?
Children laugh hundreds of times more than adults daily. You can see that it fuels their optimism. And as parents, we love hearing them laugh because it's the clearest sign that they're happy.
As leaders, there are plenty of reasons to pay attention to laughter:
- Laughter keeps us curious – it lowers stress so we can think more.
- Laughter enlivens us – it makes us feel more optimistic.
- Laughter changes us – it makes us feel more engaged.
Don't the people who sacrifice the most for us deserve to be relaxed, optimistic, and engaged? The healthiest company cultures laugh a lot and celebrate the benefits of laughter. I challenge you to raise the laugh quota for your team of kids.