Leadership Contagion: The Trickle-Down Effect of Good and Bad Leaders
Emotions and behaviors have been proven to be contagious, but what about leadership? The Harvard Business Review set out to examine whether employees with good leaders have a better chance of becoming good leaders themselves (Jan. 14; Zenger, Folkman). In order to do so, 51 different behaviors between high-level managers and mid-level managers were examined and correlations noted. Over 30 behaviors showed a significant correlation. The most contagious behaviors included: developing self and others, technical skills, strategy skills and consideration/cooperation. When high-level leaders were strong in these areas their mid-level equivalents showcased the same skills. Moreover, this social contagion extended further down in the organization. Essentially, if a high-level manager does not showcase exceptional leadership skills, their poor performance trickles down to every other level of the organization. Fortunately, the opposite also rings true: Top notch leadership skills will filter down throughout a company. This study proves that the strengths of leaders are essential to the successes and failures of any company.
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