Laughter & Leadership Go Hand in (Clapping) Hand

Islandwood workshop 4

Earlier this month, at the EMERGE Leadership Residency in Islandwood, we “learned” to laugh. I’d asked attendee Sue Z. Hart, to introduce us to laughter as therapy as part of our opening session on Friday night.  In addition to being Marketing Specialist for the Trades Division of Green River Community College, and Founder of the mission-based Building Beyond the Walls, Sue is a certified laughter therapist.

Sue shared her personal story of using laughter to help her heal from the serious effects of a car accident years ago, some of the science related to the benefits of laughter, and then led us in a serious of truly outrageous exercises that had us, yes, laughing.

Because I’m not miked at our workshops, we’ve developed “whoo-hoo!” as the emergent call back to attention after breaks, group work, etc.  Now you’ll find us “Ho Ho HaHaHa Whee-ing” too!

I exported the simplest exercise (clapping and sing-songing Ho Ho HaHaHa with a rousing Halleluah-style Whee) to our workshop in Los Angeles. I shared it as a remedy for long hours in a technologically state of the art but windowless interior classroom and was delighted when participants began asking for us to do it again. What an energy boost!

Leaders can’t afford to be stuffy – at least not Emergent leaders. Besides the fact that laughter helps keep us going when the going gets rough (now that’s original!) it is known to be a type of social “glue”.  Laughter can build connections among individuals and forge a sense of community.  Thus laughter is an important tool in the toolbox for Emergent leaders.   As part of the third primary component of the Emerge Leadership Model, community Emergent leaders rely on community, both to attain results and to provide moral support for leaderly work.

We’ll be (seriously) polishing this “tool” at the first annual EMERGE Summit this February 28th.  The theme is “Building a Beloved Community.” If you have participated in one of the EMERGE Leadership workshops in California, Oregon, Washington, or Hawaii, you are welcome to attend, and can register at:

(If you are not an alumni, let’s make you one! Sign up for our newsletter to learn of future workshops as they are scheduled.)

(The EMERGE Leadership scenario presentations have always been incredible, but the laughter session may have added a special something. The photo shows one team acting out the “ready, fire, aim!” leadership technique. Not!)