Silly builds self-confidence, leaders need to learn how to get others to be a little silly.

Acting a little goofy, comes naturally to me.  I like to make people laugh.  I’m not afraid to tell really bad jokes.  The kinds that get a sarcastic or half-hearted courtesy laugh.  When I train a group or start a circle I sometimes throw out a one-liner or bad joke and it really breaks the ice.  There is both risk and vulnerability in this.  Leadership takes being both risky and vulnerable.

In the getting acquainted stage of a restorative justice circle, I will sometimes point out we are going to talk about the silly before the serious.  Last night I asked the Circle what “superhero” would you be, or what “superpower” would you most want.  Some chuckles and valid points:  “Batman, cause he’s right up there with everyone else and doesn’t actually have a super-power”.   People decades apart in age both picked “Spiderman” for the ability to swing between buildings.  This really does serve as an ice-breaker and practice talking piece skill-set.

I always end Circles allowing a reflection on the experience itself and making sure people know that they needed to “say anything they need to leave in peace”.  One reflection was about that “silly” round and how much it really breaks the ice.  I was given positive feedback for how I lead the Circle and how it really works to build trust quickly.

It was a particularly open session, participants shared honestly and I know this, because some of the sharing revealed painful backgrounds and experiences.  We tend to exagerrate the positive when we lie, or avoid hurting others.  What was revealed were items that might be shaming in any other context.  The average person doesn’t lie about things like that.

Other reflections at the end of circle included that participants expected to pass and did not.  I immediately thought of the value of the first two stages of the Circle – getting acquainted and building relationships.  A reminder again the importance of balancing the process when facilitating a Circle.

Being a leader is about others.  Being a leader is being yourself and being mindful of being a role model.  Holding yourself gracefully, while being a little silly, shows you are real.  You can trust real and genuine, even if it is a little silly it is still trustworthy.

Why did Cinderella get kicked off the basketball team?

She kept running away from the ball.