I work with many business leaders who over the last year haven’t had any fun at work or were afraid to display fun. You know who you are. You are very focused on keeping ahead of the economic difficulties this recession has put you and your organization in.

You’ve had to cut costs and layoff valuable members of your team. Often you worry about your own job and whether you are safe. And for many of you, the mere thought of enjoying yourself at work feels like a betrayal to those who are without jobs. When you are enjoying yourself, there may be a feeling of guilt.

You often ask yourself: “How can I be having fun when there are so many people in pain?” The question you should be asking yourself is “What impact are you having to the people around you?” and “What message are you sending to them?

If in fact you are a true leader, and according to the book “The Leadership Challenge” by Kouzes & Posner, one of the five key practices of a leader is inspiring a vision, then expressing your joy and modeling fun, are key elements to inspiring others. I believe that if you can’t at least subtly demonstrate enjoyment to others at work that inspiring them will not take place. People will not believe in the organization’s vision if they don’t see others enjoying the journey to the vision.

Now as you read, I used the words subtly demonstrate, and I don’t suggest that you go skipping down the hall and jump for joy. What I am suggesting is that during your interaction with others there are subtle signs that can be sent to others around you in which you can demonstrate that you are having a good time and model this behavior so others will hopefully model to others around them.

What are some of the techniques that can be incorporated into your daily activities?

  1. SMILE – When you are talking to others, remember to smile. A smile is contagious. It doesn’t cost anything, takes little effort, and is a visual cue to others that you are having a good time.
  2. TONE – When you are speaking add some excitement into the tone of your voice. For some of you who are naturally more serious and not as dramatic when speaking, this will take some practice and may take you out of your comfort zone. For others, who in good times, this is a natural tendency and has been forgotten recently. Be conscious and observant of bringing a more exciting tone to your message.
  3. VISIBILITY – Some of us tend to retreat into our offices to hide our enjoyment and not let others see your reactions. Get out of the office and show others that it is okay to have fun.
  4. RECOGNITION – Listen for laughter, recognize and encourage it.
  5. MEETING FUN – During meetings incorporate a quick component that encourages having fun. This should be quick and at the beginning of the meeting so you can set the tone. It can be a funny video that you have found out on YouTube, or sharing a story that demonstrates fun in the workplace. Maybe you had the opportunity to speak with a customer who shared a funny story or someone else in the meeting has a story to share.

So what are you going to do to model having fun at work during these challenging times? Don’t be afraid to share your joy with others and model the appropriate behaviors to encourage others to be joyful and fun loving as well. After all, for most of us, we spend over two thirds of our adult lives at work and we should be having some fun during this time

Image Credit: The Stock Exchange (www.sxc.hu) User: Krappweis