President’s message: Leadership and laughter

Lyn Brown

I’ve long been a student of the circumstances and characteristics of leaders. Many of us become familiar with those who make headlines as business executives and state leaders. As important, we learn wonderful lessons from natural leaders in our immediate circles. They may never deliver a Ted Talk, or be interviewed in a podcast, or become a social influencer. But they leave a huge mark on our everyday life as neighbours, friends, mentors and coaches.

This past week, I came across two books. Humanocracy is written by Harvard professor Gary Hamel and Michele Zanini, founders of the Management Lab. It makes the case for a different organizing model to replace traditional bureaucratic hierarchy. This is despite, or perhaps due to, the 14-month global health pandemic.

Bureaucracy is a bit like a galactic black hole. It absorbs talent but in the absence of inclusive leadership, doesn’t achieve the output we’re striving for – collective purpose. Unleashing the natural leadership of people in all parts of an organization takes better alignment of wisdom with authority and accountability – cultivating the strength of hiveminds and hive structures. What an opportunity for CPRS members and communicators to shine, to step in and step up as leaders extraordinaire!

The second book is Humour, Seriously by Stanford professors Jennifer Aaker and Naomi Bagdonas. They unpack the stress-release and related merits of laughter on and off the job. Their premise is that while we take our work seriously, we must “refuse to take ourselves so seriously”. It made me think of leaders in my own career and life. Invariably, they are people who see humour in small mishaps and their own quirks. They help me pause, breathe, regroup and carry on in a better frame of mind. Levity is a trait many in our communications field come by naturally and, thankfully, for the rest of us, it’s a skill we can learn and nurture.

As Hugh Sidey says, “a sense of humour is needed armour. Joy in one’s heart and some laughter on one’s lips is a sign that the person down deep has a pretty good grasp of life.”

Never has this advice been more important than now.

Anticipate, initiate, be bold! – Lyn

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