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A Time to Laugh

Do people laugh at you? At work, I mean, rather than point and titter as you walk past in the street.

You don’t have to follow cricket to appreciate this story: The new captain of the England cricket team was giving a press conference this morning and kept stumbling over the word ‘shipshape’. There were gales of laughter from three people at the back of the room.

The three cricketers who couldn’t control themselves included the previous captain who had been ousted, and with whom it was widely predicted the new captain would have a hard time. Also, one other former captain was among the gigglers, a precocious talent who sometimes saves the day, sometimes doesn’t, depending, apparently on how motivated he feels.

Things must be fine in the England camp, said the commentator in passing. They are laughing at the captain.

Herb Kelleher, when he was CEO of Southwest Airlines, said “I love it when people make fun of me.” Take the job seriously but not yourself is a pretty good rule of thumb for leaders to follow.

In case you think that doesn’t make him a serious CEO, under Kelleher’s watch (and, just as important, after he handed over to Colleen Barrett, too) Southwest Airlines was and is the most consistently profitable airline in US aviation history and, for a large part of its existence, has been worth more than the stock market value of every other domestic US airline added together. That’s serious business.

With people losing jobs and worried about the future, this isn’t the time for comedians. But, this IS a time to forge closer relationships and a sense of purpose. And nothing does that like laughing together.

Don’t forget Victor Borge’s memorable line, stolen by Primal Leadership author Daniel Goleman

Q: What’s the shortest distance between two people?
A: Laughter

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