over 8 years ago by Linda Davis

Understanding Emotional Contagion in Leadership

Understanding Emotional Contagion In Leadership

Emotional contagion in leadership can spread faster than an internet meme. As a leader, are your emotions impacting on your business?

Everything you think, feel, say and do is either a service or a disservice to yourself
and everyone around you. 
– Mary Gober, employee engagement expert



Unlike cognitive behaviour, emotions struggle to be left at the office door and because employees are very aware of their leaders’ emotions, leaders can strongly impact the mood of an employee. When employees are ‘infected’ by the moods of others, particularly their leaders, it impacts on everything around them in the workforceEmotional contagion in leadership can spread across a team like a virus.



Emotional contagion can impact in both the positive and negative. The key to understanding emotional contagion in leadership is to firstly understand yourself as a leader. It is hugely important to train yourself to be aware of your mood, and to put a focus on moving your mindset from negative to positive. We all have the power to train ourselves to manage our emotional suite to ensure that we deliberately lift our own spirits before interacting with the group.


It is very important that your leadership is aware of the inherent power associated with positive and negative emotions and the overall impact it can have on a culture. Positive emotions can harness energy in a team which engages employees on a completely different level, and gets the most out of them.



What can you do to open communication with your employees, involve them in strategy and bring them in on the future vision for the division/company? It is vital to drive a healthy mindset when driving and motiving teams.

Some suggestions to help harness the emotional power of your team:

  • Consider the benefits of driving a collaborative culture, an open culture where individuality is key, and trust, openness and candour are all encompassing
  • Look for the team to be innovative in their role to achieve their goals
  • Give your employees a voice, allow them to speak up
  • Engage your employees to participate in defining benchmarks for success and be sure to celebrate success
  • It is your role as a leader to work on and manage your own emotions; you need to master your communication to drive a positive communication style
  • Understand that emotional contagion continues after employees leave work



Some suggestions to help harness your own emotional power:

  • Use work that inspires and encourages
  • Be very clear on what you want to achieve
  • See all aspects of a situation positive and negative and practice adopting the positive
  • Always be open to hearing from others, you can learn a lot
  • Take negative language out of your dictionary; nocan’t
  • Work on your own personal mindfulness