Mood contagion is the automatic and unconscious transfer of mood between individuals.
It occurs because we tend to mimic others’ nonverbal behaviour.
Research has shown that intense moods are more likely to be transferred. Joy or distress are more likely to be passed on than calmness or boredom.
Although mood contagion can transfer between any two or more people, leaders probably have an even greater impact on their group mood. This is because of their importance to the organization.
If you, as a leader, can’t regulate your emotions, members of your group might often experience stress and anxiety. This is both in trying to cope with you as the leader and in dealing with the tasks at hand.
Leaders in a bad mood don’t need to be abusive or hostile! Their mood needs only to be negative. Research shows that even subtle expressions of negative mood can have an impact on followers.
This raises all kinds of issues in the present economic downturn! This is a time when we all feel miserable sometimes. But you as a leader have to work to manage down the impact of your own feelings.
Think about those leaders who handle a crisis well. Do they manage their mood and communicate clearly while creating a safe environment for their employees? Or do they just let it all hang out and then deal with the casualties? Who would you rather deal with and what kind of leader do you want to be?
Remember when you feel down you need to
- Recognize that your mood will an impact on your group
- Work to reduce that negative impact
- Intentionally change your mood – there is a technique at this link that you can learn for this.
I would welcome your thoughts on all of this and your tips for handling your own feelings.
Wendy Mason works as a personal and business coach, consultant and blogger. She has managed or advised on many different kinds of transition and she has worked with all kinds of people going through personal change. If you would like her help, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or ring ++44(0)2084610114 or ++44(0)7867681439 or
- The Transformative Power of Sharing Mood (quantifiedself.com)
- Got up on the wrong side of the bed? Your work will show it (eurekalert.org)