Talking about humanity in a commercial context is always a risk, as it turns some people on and others think you are airy fairy. The truth of the matter is I think you have to be Living Brave to wear your humanity on your sleeve rather than to mask it behind a commercial visage.
Generally, it's commercials first and humanity second, and that makes sense to some people, let's be real, without the commercials, there is no business and thus the humanity aspect is irrelevant. Now you might argue, as I do, that humanity in a business when done well brings discretionary effort, greater innovation, loyalty and thus commercial sustainability. On an intellectual level no one really disagrees, in reality the pressure of the daily reality presses in on a business and like one of those ‘invasion of the body snatchers’ movies, the alien (the commercial imperative), pretends to be human. I do believe for enlightened/those that want to be human there is is a way of approaching the commercials just as aggressively, but through a human lens.
The health check for me comes in the guise of humour, if an individual, team and culture has humour then it’s normally onto a winner, if it’s distorted or absent I always find overt and covert problems.
Humour in its positive form adds to the moment, it calms nerves, it relaxes egos, it levels the playing field and allows people to receive difficult message and to handle hard moments. It can be self-generated and is often self-deprecating or generated by others.
Distorted humour is actually when humour is used as a way of attacking others or deflecting the conversations that need to be had. It is when its purpose is not focused on adding value, but actually distorting the situation.
Now one might argue that, “this is no time for humour” in reality that’s not true, it might not be what be something that a person or others want, however it may be needed by others. When humour is generated from a place of integrity then it works at its best when it is allowed to exist regardless of whether you or someone else values its presence.
I have seen this a lot in the emergency services or from those within the military, they are often talk about quite harrowing or high pressure situations that generate high levels of humour, from people who are of the highest professional integrity.
Why does humour manifest? Mainly it’s a release valve, it’s a way for the emotion to vent. Uncertainty, doubt and even fear have to find an outlet, they are a way for a person to recognise the reality of the situation and when in a group to try to engage a support response from those that are more experienced or who like them are feeling the same thing, but hadn’t expressed it yet.
So on a final note, when you are Living Brave as a leader or developing yourself to be one enable humour in your own behaviours, don’t be scared of it and don’t allow anyone to tell you it’s not adding value. If you are getting it right, then it’s your right to be human and after all Living Brave is ultimately a manifestation of your humanity in leadership form.