Laughing All the Way to the Bank


A study of executives shared in the Harvard Business Review showed a positive correlation of an executive’s pay to the number of times they used humor.  The study, shared in the article Laughing All the Way to the Bank, looked at senior executives at a large corporation and measured them on their use of humor, and then analyzed their compensation.

Some highlights from the article:

  • “Humor, used skillfully, greases the management wheels.  It reduces hostility, deflects criticism, relieves tension, improves morale, and helps communicate difficult messages.” (page 1)
  • “The executives who had been ranked as outstanding used humor more than twice as often as average executives, a mean of 17.8 times per hour compared with 7.5 times per hour….The size of their bonuses correlated positively with their use of humor during the interview.” (page 1)
  • “Superior leaders share a set of emotional-intelligence characteristics, chief among them high self-awareness and an exceptional ability to empathize.  These qualities are critical to managers’ effective use of humor.” (page 2)

Source: Laughing All the Way to the Bank by Fabio Sala.  Harvard Business Review, September 2003.

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