Your behavior is contagious to employees

Don't Let Toxic Coworkers Infect Your Office
Don't Let Toxic Coworkers Infect Your Office

Your attitudes and actions will spread like the flu to your team. Make sure you're only passing down productive and positive ones.

As the flu and various viruses spread around your office, you should know that illnesses aren't the only contagions. As a leader, your behavior is highly contagious.

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Jack Zenger, CEO, and Joseph Folkman, president of leadership development consultancy Zenger/Folkman, write in Harvard Business Review about their new study looking at how 51 different behaviors were transferred from leaders to managers to employees.

As a CEO, you already know how much influence you have over your company, but Zenger and Folkman found that positive behaviors, like integrity, honesty, decisiveness and performance, can be passed from manager to employee. The same is true of negative behaviors, like dishonesty and poor communication skills.

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The study compared 360-degree assessments of 265 pairs of managers and direct reports to determine the correlations between the behaviors of managers and employees. Out of 51 behaviors, they found 30 behaviors with "significant correlations."

Zenger and Folkman found that if you're a subpar manager you "erode" your direct reports' engagement levels, as well as the levels of the employees working for them, thanks to a "trickle down effect."

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But it's not all bad. Zenger and Folkman say positive behaviors are also highly contagious.

"Happily, the converse is also true: if you're a great boss, that engages your team and your team's teams," they write.

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