A New Type of Leader: Anchored on Purpose, Fueled by Humor

Imagine a world where our leaders, teams, and institutions are driven by a higher purpose. Where they are defined by authenticity, compassion, and radical agility to adapt to the rapid transformation of today’s society.

We believe the world needs you to be this new type of leader. To blaze a trail toward a new model of leadership that is visionary, effective, inspired — and inspiring.

To become this new type of leader, you must be anchored on purpose and fueled by levity. Your sense of purpose will create clarity, fuel engagement, and cultivate trust. Your sense of levity and humor will enhance creativity, foster more meaningful relationships, and bolster resilience when the stakes are highest. This balance of purpose and levity will equip you with the humility and emotional intelligence to connect deeply with your teams, partners, and customers, the vision to build loyalty and drive toward lofty goals, and the mental agility to tackle the complex problems in our changing world.

Course Introduction


In this course, we empower you with tools to unlock higher purpose in yourself, your teams, and in your organizations. Then, drawing on insights from leaders who cultivate levity in their organizations as well as professional comedians, you’ll learn how to use your sense of humor as a secret weapon in business and life to persuade, influence, and lead.

Through this journey, you will challenge your current approach on how to lead in this new environment of constant change, and learn to:  

  • Anchor on purpose by gaining insight into how to develop personal moonshots (defined as a bold, specific goal tailored to your passions, strengths, and what the world needs) to tackle your leadership challenge and goals
  • Discover the power of humor and find opportunities for levity in your stories and life by embarking on secret missions that help you authentically unlock your sense of purpose and humor
  • Play using comedy techniques, incorporating levity into your bio and redesigning miserable experiences (e.g., baggage claim, budget meetings, any meetings for that matter) with your colleagues
  • Lead with a mindset of purpose and humor by defining your team’s inspired mission, authentic voice, and strategies for activating your inspired team mission with levity

The course is rooted in the behavioral science of purpose and humor and is complemented by insights, anecdotes, and case studies from leaders who have fostered purpose and levity in their teams, organizations, and even families.

Ultimately, this course is about doing things that are important in work and life, using the two superpowers of purpose and humor. Purpose provides the why, and humor provides the how for this endeavor. Thus, whether you’re an entrepreneur growing a new company or an executive at the helm of a massive organization, if you want to better understand how to lead with purpose — while using humor as a secret weapon — this course is for you.

Course Faculty


Marineh Lalikian
Director, Stanford LEAD Online Business Program Executive Education