Snark - "Biting, cruel humor or wit, commonly used to attack someone or something."
Snark and Credibility
I'll be honest with you. I love jokes...not only playing them on people, but also being on the receiving end of a good prank. Good ones use a combination of fun, creativity and a clear signal that the balance between humor and cruelty will never crossed.
Quite honestly I think they can show the human side of leadership, particularly if we demonstrate that we don't mind being on the receiving end of a well-intended and harmless prank. I would much rather have the team feel comfortable teasing me vs. them worrying if my teasing has some sort of underlying message (even though it never does.)
Never lose an opportunity to show the "real you" with your team.
Snark and Losing All Respect
The flip side of course is when the fun morphs into simple cruelty. We've all made mistakes and crossed the line, but that's not what I'm talking about.
The decision to brand oneself as the one who always takes things a little too far is for stand-up comedians.
It is never a legitimate strategy for leaders.
Candidly the underlying issues that seem to drive these behaviors are typically based on low self-esteem and some sort of inferiority complex.
I've seen it many times in my career. It has nothing to do with how bright or accomplished the aggressor is; in fact many are quite good at their jobs.
Sadly though, they allow their insecurities to shine brightly as they use snark as a weapon.
How About You
Which leadership style have you chosen? Do you look for opportunities to show that you are human along with the rest of your team? Or, is your self-talk machine blaring so loudly you don't realize you are inadvertently hurting those around you?
I'd love to hear from you.