By | Annika Kim Constantino | www.cnbc.com
When you think of a good leader, you probably think of a few common traits — like determination, humility and confidence.
But two Stanford experts say the key to great leadership also lies in another surprisingly simple quality: having a sense of humor.
“We can do serious things without taking ourselves too seriously. And in fact, often we can do them better and more fashionably,” Naomi Bagdonas, a management lecturer at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, said in a TED talk earlier this year.
Bagdonas co-teaches a course at Stanford on the power of humor in leadership with behavioral scientist Jennifer Aaker. The pair delivered the TED talk together in January, noting that leaders can often use humor to build stronger connections with their team. The approach also helps foster creativity and resilience among all involved, they said.
Their rationale: Laughter accelerates feelings of trust, closeness and comfort. When people share a laugh, their brains release certain hormones — endorphins and dopamine — that emulate the feeling of a runner’s high, or a brief state of extreme joy and delight. This chemical reaction in your brain is what makes you feel bonded with others, according to Aaker and Bagdonas.
Following this logic, leaders who share a laugh with their employees can foster stronger connections with them. Their relationships can go from being “transactional to human,” the Stanford duo said.