CEO Humor – Breaking the Ice
CEO humor (including jokes about CEOs) is quite easy to come by, considering how stiff and uptight they’re usually required to be. What is it with nobility and Forbes-worthy citizens that makes them think that to appear as Very Important People (and I recognize that they are, mark my word, for I don’t use the Capital Letters of Great Importance on just anyone) , they have to master the art of strutting around as if they had random bits of cutlery shoved up their orifices? Really, I understand why the formal, business look reflects discipline and sacrifice, but I’d think the lesser workers would much better prefer a bright smile that encourages good work than a scowl that hints of hell to come. Heck, some CEO’s make people piss themselves by raising an eyebrow, and that’s not a sign of productivity at all.
CEOs are visionaries with goals to make a difference in the world. The problem is, they tend to focus on that goal first before looking at their respective companies. It’s common sense to think that if you’re going to make a difference, you start with the roots you were given. So CEOs would do well to make themselves welcoming to the people that make their companies work instead, and inject a little humor and levity in the workplace to encourage people to do the same, for a happy workplace is a productive workplace.
The politics of humor are mostly classified by class, race and gender; some jokes are alright when spoken by a specific sector, but is tactless and offensive if spoken by another. There is a hierarchy in place as well– with jokes about certain kinds of people being progressively limited in terms of political correctness, the higher one is on the social food chain. Black people can make jokes about fellow black people, but if white people say the same thing, they get stamped with bigotry.
So what does history tell us? People have less politically correct jokes at their disposal the higher they are in the social food chain, which should explain why CEOs and those others with higher tax brackets are so tight-assed. When the spotlight’s on you, you always have to watch what you say and how you act.
The best humor that CEOs can inflict upon themselves are jokes about themselves. The most loved CEOs often turn to making fun of themselves to break the ice, to allow people to think that there’s more to this higher up than a much fatter paycheck. One of the hallmarks of good leadership is self-effacing humor, as it demonstrates an openness to people that is hard to find among those of similar rank.
Some CEOs begin their terms by spending time with their entry-level workers, while others begin with an open-hearted speech that every person in their company can relate to. Humor can do a lot to break the ice, and when you’re the head of a corporation, having your workers like you is another achievement worth investing in.
CEO humor usually involves their personal experiences and the little nuances they encounter just because they are CEOs. Scott McNealy for example, former CEO of Sun Microsystems had made a humorous list of things he’s glad for now that he’s not CEO, which included not having to apologize for anything he said in Wall Street Journal, or having someone else to blame, or being able to play golf because the new CEO can’t.
CEOs are not the funniest of people, which is why people appreciate it when they try to be. That’s where the difference begins– when people see you as someone who can do something significant for the world without having to be a curmudgeon in your own base. Remember that happy people make for better workers, and a CEO who is loved rather than feared makes for a better workplace.