How do you lead with humor?

Did you know that principals who are perceived as having a positive style of humor or an affiliative style of humor, one that demonstrates that a leader is not taking one’s self so seriously, were more likely to be viewed as transformational leaders?  However, principals perceived with an aggressive or self-defeating style of humor were not perceived positively as leaders (Mascolo, 2014). 

In creating a climate where people laugh and enjoy their work, incorporate positive humor and opportunities to laugh into your day, especially if it can connect people to your greater mission.   If you tend to have a more aggressive or self-deprecating style of humor, make strides to save that type of humor for home.  If you need a model as a guide, think about a flight on Southwest Airlines.  Their flight attendants work to include positive humor and affiliative humor to make travel more enjoyable as well as to build trust and community for the flight (Klein, 2012).  This comes naturally to some, but if it doesn’t come naturally to you, think about ways to incorporate humor and get your staff to have one good laugh at your next meeting.

Let’s use our TXTS 4 Leaders community of more than 500 educational leaders to spread some laughter.  Do you have a favorite joke or video/image link that you use with your staff?  Scroll down to add it to the comments section.


Klein, G. D. (2012). Creating cultures that lead to success: Lincoln Electric, Southwest Airlines, and SAS Institute. Organizational Dynamics, 41, 32-43.

Mascolo, L. B. (2014). Leading Through Laughter: Humor and Perceived Effectiveness of P-12 Principals. Georgia Southern University, Statesboro, Georgia.