Do leaders automatically become funnier as they rise in the ranks?General Schwarzkopf (“Stormin’ Norman”) found a definite correlation between rising through the ranks of the U.S. Army and his supposed sense of humor.
You see, once he had a star pinned to him, his subordinates began to laugh at his jokes! Before the star, his attempts at humor tanked (pun not only intended, but slaved over for hours).
I’ve talked to many leaders about this trend, and it seems commonplace.
We know, of course, that people laugh for a lot of different reasons beyond simply finding something amusing.
This “suck up” kind of laughter perhaps serves as a reminder that leaders get treated differently and often differentially, and that if leaders are going to be truly effective they need to foster the kind of workplace environment where their subordinates feel relaxed enough to just be themselves and speak freely and openly.
Which means leaders need to be wary of “canned laughter” in the workplace, and employees need to feel free to, when warranted, to roll their eyes and tell their boss not to quit her day job.
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