Great leaders have a sense of humour

Our Woo Happy division has grown from 6 to (I think) about 13 leads in less than 2 years. Of the original 6, only 4 are left. That’s resulted in us welcoming many new leads. Next to looking into how to do that (which I wrote about here), it’s prompted me also to regularly think about what characteristics I look for in leads.

One of my colleagues shared this TED talk with me, it resonated a lot from this perspective of being on the lookout for new leads to join our bench. I have noticed that humour can be an incredibly powerful tool in building team cohesion, but also in being approachable as a team lead. Someone who doesn’t take themselves too seriously will also be able to admit their own mistakes.

Link to video

If you go to the TED page, there’s a link to discover your own humour profile.

In Woo, we’ve recently hired some C-suite level positions. Often, the people we get for these positions have opportunities elsewhere. In an intro call with one of my new colleagues, I asked her why she ended up choosing for Woo. Next to the interesting challenge that would be hers, she mentioned that our CEO, Paul, was one of the few interviewers who was interested in her as a person; her family life, her passions, and so on.

Humour closely relates to this; it connects us on a human level, and it allows us to work more closely and as a result more efficiently. In a blog post where I described how we support our users when things go wrong, I emphasised the importance of internal relationships:

It’s important to not wait until things go wrong to talk about our work with colleagues from our product team, the marketing team, and the legal team. At our annual Grand Meetup, we joke together and share meals. With some of the key people in each team, I have a regular Zoom meeting that isn’t prompted by incidents, but that is focused on relationship building. As a result, we can communicate directly and swiftly. We know which people should be involved. 

— Quote mine, emphasis mine too (yes, I just obnoxiously quoted myself)

It’s a full circle because the colleague who appreciated the personal focus of our CEO is also the one who shared this TED talk with me. I’m glad I get to work (and laugh) together with her.


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