Editor’s Note: Thursday’s blog post was rescheduled for today. John is taking some time off for the holiday weekend. This post originally appeared in 2012.

Laughing, Storytelling Important Leadership Skills | Shutterstock

One of the great joys of life is to hear people laugh – not a polite snicker but full-on, uproariously satisfying laughter.  The greater gift is to be able to elicit laughter from a crowd.

When we think of laughter, we typically make a straight line connection with the art of stand-up comedy, a tough, unforgiving profession to which many aspire and precious few find real success.  When you ask stand-up comics why they endure the tough times, most will say that there is no greater professional reward than to have that great night where your material is in sync with the audience’s mood and there is wave after wave of appreciative laughter.  They will also tell you that the path to those great performance moments is a narrow high wire where a misstep can lead to crushing rejection.  In the comedy business, rejection is very personal.

There are certainly some parallels to the art of leadership.

Laughter, An Important Leadership Tool

Laughter is an important tool in the art of leadership, especially in healthcare where the waves of dynamic change will elicit laughter, or cries of anguish, depending on the relative health of an organization’s balance sheet.  Leaders who can laugh, and the CEOs with the great talent for creating laughter while expressing confidence of success through turmoil, will earn the never-ending loyalty of their closest colleagues and employees.

Another important leadership element that often goes unrewarded is the art of storytelling.  Organizational consultants will say that the ability to weave captivating stories regarding important cultural values will enhance the message and contribute to its sustainability. 

Great Leadership, Storytelling Go Hand-In-Hand

Stories that reinforce mission-critical values and make us laugh are golden as are the talented leadership who possess those skills.

When you ask a successful leader his or her definition of that “sweet spot” for achievement, they will say when everyone in the organization is truly in sync about the mission, vision and values.  For a leader, that is the greater gift.

To invite John Self to be a speaker at your meeting or function, contact JohnGSelf + Partners at info@johngself.com.  John is an entertaining and informative speaker who talks about leadership, career management, and life’s wonderful ironies in speeches that are laced with humor and satisfying stories regarding the challenges we all face. He consistently receives high ratings for his presentations.