Leaders: Is It Time to Lighten Up?

The world of business just might be better off if we encouraged a bit more fun at work.

I do a lot of coaching of senior executives and recently I’ve been noticing a trend.

Too much seriousness.

Serious Woman

You would normally think that we would want executives who are serious of purpose, seriously committed to their work, even seriously dedicated to their organization. But, do they really have to also be quite so serious? I think not.

It just might be time for managers, directors, VPs and even CEOs to just lighten up.

Do You Have to Quit Before You Can Lighten Up?

It reminds me of the time I was leaving my job after 2.5 years at Motorola to go run a non-profit. I gave several months notice because I was completing a big project, and I didn’t want anyone to assign me to anything new. Looking back, those last few months were actually some of the happiest times that I had with the organization.

There seemed to be a huge weight lifted off my shoulders the minute I publicly committed to leaving. I could just be free to enjoy the work and my colleagues without having to be so worried about everything – so quick to jump in and solve every problem. So concerned that someone was judging me or that I wasn’t measuring up.

After all, no one could fire me, I’d already quit! But, do you have to actually quit to be less serious at work?

What would it take to feel like that every day? Could you imagine that this (wherever you work) is the place you CHOOSE to be and, as a result, make it a place that others WANT to be… with you?

After all, we do choose, right? Every day, we choose to get up out of bed, get dressed and go to the office – whether that office is in our second bedroom or its 50 miles one way on busy freeways. We choose to commit our time and our energy and our smarts and our ideas to whatever we are doing every day.

Yes, we might need the paycheck. Yes, we might not love what we are doing every day. We might not love our boss or our board or all of our colleagues.

But, if we can see our job as a choice, every day, a choice we make freely (and happily), then perhaps everyone we work with will be thankful that we show up every day. They will want to attend our meetings or read our emails or take our calls. I’m not saying we have to be constantly kidding around, but there is something to be said for bringing our more engaging, fun and happy self to work!

I invite you to choose…today. Choose – just for a moment, then for an hour, and then for a whole day – to be the person that others would choose to work with. Get out of the weeds, stop the nitpicking, get away from the lecturing or dominating or cattiness or whatever other bad behaviors show up when you are stressed out and unhappy.

Remember, instead, that the workplace can be about choice. Every day. Choose to make it a place you all want to be.

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