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In the September edition of the Edge, we discussed stress and anxiety and some related toxic effects. As I’m sitting here at my computer writing this, I’m pausing and thinking of some on my distribution list. I know with sure-footed confidence that some of you have had a year that has been challenge-filled to put it mildly. How different will 2011 be in this arena of self-management for you? You probably already know this, but how you manage stress and its influence on your mood directly impacts those around you.
One of the components of an emotionally intelligent and healthy leader/executive is the ability to have fun. Emotional illiteracy in this vital area can be a costly de-railer of team productivity, creativity and certainly problem solving. Because of mirror neurons, bosses in bad moods reproduce bad moods in others eroding the mental abilities of those around them. Likewise, bosses in good moods who utilize humor and playfulness do just the opposite. Researcher Alice Isen* found that good moods enhance the ability to think flexibly and with more complexity, thus making it easier to arrive at both intellectual and interpersonal solutions.
Productivity requires a good laugh. Goal-oriented pursuits need a guffaw. Having fun is an irresistible open loop that energizes the work group acting almost like a people magnet. People want to associate and perform in a climate that allows or even causes them elation and laughter. Retention studies consistently indicate that people don’t quit fun bosses and environments.
Very early in my career, I held a sales position with Dun & Bradstreet. The world of sales was very stressful for me with the incessant month-in and month-out grind for more revenue. I had a demonstrative sales manager by the name of Mike Peterson. One day when Mike and I were getting ready to conclude a phone conversation I heard him challenge me, “Hey! Have some fun out there!” Wow. The tonic I needed. Just the thought of my boss practically ordering me to lighten up and have some fun caused my stress and anxiety to almost instantly vanish. All of us on his team used to laugh a lot and produce a lot. Mike was hard driving… and fun.
You know work isn’t some carnival. Work is often intense and crucial, demanding the very best you have, and then some. But what about you, are you having some fun?
If someone asked the people who know you best if you have fun when you work and develop productive enjoyment around you, what would they say?
Have a happy Thanksgiving and thank you for your partnership & friendship this past year.
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