Secrets of Emotional Contagion

Emotion is contagious. Stressed leaders have stressed teams. Angry leaders are surrounded by anxiety.

You care about the way work feels because:

  1. Motivation is a feeling.
  2. Momentum is a feeling.
  3. Vitality is a feeling.

If work sucks, life is less fulfilling.

Emotionally dark environments lead to detrimental outcomes.  HBR

  1. Sad people call in sick.
  2. Marginalized workers give marginal effort.
  3. Resentment causes theft.

If you don’t like how things feel at work, look in the mirror.

Project: evaluate emotional presence:

Ask your team to anonymously evaluate the emotions you bring to work. Rate the following items between one and five. (5 = frequently and 1 = almost never.)

  1. Stressed.
  2. Exuberant.
  3. Joyful.
  4. Disturbed.
  5. Concerned.
  6. Sad.
  7. Fulfilled.
  8. Frustrated.
  9. Energized.
  10. Happy.
  11. Surprised. (Pleasantly)
  12. Trusting.
  13. Disgusted.
  14. Hopeful.
  15. Fearful.
  16. Drained.
  17. Preoccupied.
  18. Present.
  19. Caring.
  20. Compassionate.

Ask your team to list the three most frequent emotions you exhibit.

Evaluate yourself and compare results.

Three follow-up questions for your team/co-workers:

  1. What do you specifically see me doing that caused you to give me high scores?
  2. What specific actions would you suggest I do less of?
  3. How might I take my emotional presence to the next level? (Think behaviors.)

Pockets of emotional energy are led by sparkplugs who ignite energy.

Positive culture:

“Positive emotions are consistently associated with better performance, quality, and customer service—this holds true across roles and industries and at various organizational levels.” HBR

Compliance is gained with authority, but winning hearts and minds requires emotion.

How to manage emotional culture:

Emotional culture is managed in tiny interactions.

  1. Be curious about people.
  2. Practice patting people on the back.
  3. Find something to smile about. (If you aren’t pleased to be at work, your team won’t be pleased either.)
  4. Engage in playful mischief.
  5. Stop in at the end of the day.

Bonus: Give a monthly smiley award in each department.

What drags organizations into dark emotion?

How might leaders ignite and fuel positive emotion?

Bonus material:

Balancing Emotional and Cognitive Culture (Wharton)

Manage Your Emotions at Work (Mind Tools)

Why Scientists Say it Pays to Get Emotional at Work (Inc)

Your Success Depends on Emotional Culture (Psychology Today)