Abraham Lincoln was well known for his sense of humor. During the famous Lincoln-Douglas debates, when Douglas accused Lincoln of being two faced he replied, “Honestly, if I were two-faced, would I be showing you this one?” Lincoln was not the most attractive man and his ability to laugh about it won the hearts of the masses. Today, global CEOs need to have the ability to connect with people from all kinds of cultures and backgrounds and humor is one of the best tools in their toolboxes.
Tim Cook is the CEO of Apple, the world’s most valuable company by a large margin. As one can imagine, the pressure of being the successor to the legendary Steve Jobs is enormous. Cook, however, has found a way to win over many of his skeptics through solid performance and his colorful sense of humor. In a recent commencement speech at George Washington University, Cook asked people to silence their phones by saying “So those of you with an iPhone, just place it in silent mode. If you don't have an iPhone, please pass it to the center aisle; Apple has a world-class recycling program.” In another recent incident, Brandon Moss of the Cleveland Indians hit his 100th home run into the bullpen (this is where pitchers warm-up). His teammates grabbed the ball and wrote a ransom note saying that Moss would have to buy them all sorts of Apple products to get it back. Cook seized the opportunity and opened this year’s Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference by holding up the ball and saying that he was giving in to the ransom requested by Moss’ teammates.
Why is Tim Cook’s use of humor important? First of all, it builds trust. People who can laugh together feel more like each other. Secondly, humor is memorable and viral. Cook’s joke with the Cleveland Indians and their ransom note will be talked about for years as the story has been picked up by news sites and social media from around the world. Finally, humor is a great way to defuse serious situations. Letting situations become too stressful can cause serious damage, while a little levity can work wonders.
Great leaders like Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, and Mahatma Gandhi were all known for their sense of humor that revealed their true characters in times of great distress. Gandhi famously once said that “If I had no sense of humor, I would have long ago committed suicide.” The world desperately needs strong, powerful leaders, but often times this need is confused with toughness and discipline. Winning hearts and minds requires making a connection and tasteful, well timed humour is skill that leaders have used since the beginning of human history. The Sense of Humor Award goes to Tim Cook for his ability to use humor so that the world can also see his humanity.
For more information on Leadership, please refer to the following articles:
Apple CEO Caves to Cleveland Indians' Ransom Demands – Except the Lube, Rolling Stone Magazine, James Montgomery, June 8th, 2015
Why Great Leaders Have A Sense Of Humor, LinkedIN Post, Jas Singh, March 14, 2015
3 Big Reasons Humor Benefits Your Leadership
For more information about the Corvinus Global Business blogger, go to https://www.linkedin.com/in/kevinmjackson1.