Humor in Leadership: How to Lead People with Humor

  • Christine GockelEmail author
  • Laura Vetter
Part of the SpringerBriefs in Psychology book series (BRIEFSPSYCHOL)


A leader may use humor for a variety of relational goals in a hierarchical relationship. Humor can be used to create cohesion and strengthen solidarity with subordinates, but also to create divisions between them and increase a leader’s status. The duality of humor functions becomes especially apparent in the context of leader-subordinate relationships. In this chapter, we will describe how perceptions of leader humor and leader effectiveness go hand in hand, partly due to implicit personality theories. We will show that the effects of leader humor are stronger in some tasks and for some persons than others, and that the effects of general leader behaviors such as transactional and transformational leadership in part depend on leader humor use. We will explain various response strategies that enable listeners to acknowledge humor and power differences simultaneously. Finally, we will close by pointing out differences in humor use between female and male leaders.


Leadership Leader humor Transactional and transformational leadership LMX Leader perception Leader effectiveness Subordinate reactions Gender 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.SRH University of Applied SciencesBerlinGermany

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