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Mood affects the culture of an organisation
A positive work culture is what differentiates high- performance organisations from less successful ones. The formula is quite exact. The emotional style of leader’s accounts for between 50 to 70% of an organisations work culture (how people feel about working for a company) which in turn accounts for 20 to 30% of the organisation performance.
‘When my mind is full of anger, other people catch it like the flu.’ – Daniel Goleman
Most people have been on both ends of this statement, they have been the one who was angry and in turn affected the moods of the people around them, and they have also been the one who’s mood changed as a result of interacting with someone else. This is called Emotional Contagion. This happens every time you interact with other people, it doesn’t matter whether this is with a group, one other person or an organisation. Our minds react to the emotions of the people around us because we all have a Social Brain.
How does a group of people catch the angry mood of a leader? When you are focused on someone else your brain picks up on signals and processes them through the ‘low road’ of the emotional part of your brain. Emotional contagion runs through this part of the brain allowing for an automatic ‘neural mimicking’ of other people’s feelings. Generally, the prefrontal cortex is the part of the brain that adjusts our emotions, this enables us to continue thinking and be present even though we are upset by another person’s emotions.
Emotional contagion happens all the time, at work is no exception, but who is the person who sends the emotions? When there is a group of people, the member of the group who is the most emotionally expressive is the sender. In circumstances where there are power differences in the group, the most powerful member sends emotions and sets the emotional tone for the group. If the team leader is in a good mood, everyone picks up on it and as a result their performance is improved, if however, the leader is in a negative mood, group performance suffers as a result. It is also important to note that people remember the negative interactions with their bosses more than the positive.
If you are a leader, how can this information help you? First of all, you must be aware of your own emotions. Self-awareness is a hugely important aspect of emotional intelligence, another is self-regulation. Leaders who have mastered these skills can learn how to choose their mood. Sigal Barsade is a researcher at Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. She specialises in emotional contagion and the impact it has in organisations. She has suggested a number of ways that leaders can manage their emotions and as a result can create a positive emotional culture within their teams. She states is that you need to be aware of your moods and if it is not useful, change it! One way you can do this is by changing your facial expression, the facial feedback hypothesis states that our facial expressions have an impact on our emotions, for example by intentionally smiling you will begin to feel more positive emotions.
Moods are highly contagious
When you are a leader, your team take their cues from you and as a result your mood is hugely important as it has a direct impact on performance, both good and bad. Our moods transfer to the people we come in contact with and they can have just as strong an effect on them as they do on you. You don’t even have to know somebody personally for their mood to affect you. By simply listening to somebody speaking in sad/cheerful tone of voice can put you in same mood as person speaking. How is this possible? The answer is as a result of the mirror neurones in our brain. When we see somebody in for example, a happy mood, the same neurons start to fire in our brains as are firing in theirs. It is a primitive form of empathy (immediate and instinctive reading of another person’s thoughts, feelings etc), and it explains how we ‘pick up’ others’ moods so easily. The closer and more important the relationship the more powerful the contagion.
Emotional contagion in groups and at work
Emotional contagion is very common among co-workers in the same department or team, at meetings, etc. The ability of a team to feel ‘as one’ is incredibly important for the success of the team, perhaps even more important than skill. For example, a wave of positivity or determination, working its way contagiously through a team lights a fire that will help them achieve their goals. Similarly, a wave of defeatism can spread through a team at a rapid pace. The more emotionally connected a group is, the stronger the contagion. The more group members depend on each other to get the work done and for support, and the longer they have worked together, the more contagion there is.
Mood at work counts not just to employees, but to productivity. When employees are in a positive mood at work, they tend to be more cooperative, generous with their time and expertise and more attentive. There also tends to be less absenteeism and staff turnover. When however, there is a negative mood throughout the group, the performance of the whole team can be affected.
When the leader is in a positive mood everybody is more optimistic about getting things done, the team is better at absorbing and understanding information and are more creative and flexible and more effective decision-makers. Maureen Gaffney outlines a number of steps on how to better manage your mood.
How to manage your mood
For more information on your leadership/team coaching click here
Gaffney, M. (2018) Managing Your Mood [Online] https://www.rte.ie/radio1/marian-finucane/features/2012/0915/351652-maureen-gaffney-moods/
Goleman, D. (2016) glad-mad-sad-teams-catch-a-leaders-mood [Online] http://www.danielgoleman.info/glad-mad-sad-teams-catch-a-leaders-mood/
It has become increasingly obvious that effective leadership is hugely important in the workplace. If the leadership is not effective, problems such as poor productivity, low motivation and high turnover can occur. In the current market, there are many new opportunities available for employees and so if employees are not happy it is very likely that they will go elsewhere. Leaders often don’t think about the type of leader they are. Generally they fall into either the task-oriented or relationship-oriented leadership style.
Task Oriented Leadership
This type of leader focuses on the tasks that needed to be carried out in order to reach goals. The leadership style here can be described as autocratic. Autocratic leaders don’t involve their team in decision making. Task-orientated leadership involves some task management features. This involves placing emphasis on administrative activities, co-ordinating job-related activities, preparing financial reports etc. As we can see leaders who opt for this style focus on completing tasks in order to reach targets. This type of leader doesn’t really care about relationship building or the employees who are needed to reach these goals. They are more concerned with following their plan to reach organisational targets.
One of, if not the biggest strength of this type of leadership is that all tasks are completely to a high standard in a timely manner. These leaders set an example for employees by focusing on the necessary procedures in relation to how tasks as completed. As a result, they can delegate work and make sure that tasks are completed on time to a high standard. This style of leadership would be suitable in well-structured environments like for example manufacturing assembly lines where repeating well-defined processes produces high levels of both productivity and quality.
Some of the weaknesses associated with this leaderships style involve a fear of breaking the rules among employees, this may lead to a lack of creativity, low morale and as a result high turnover. A lack of innovation which can come from a fear of taking risks, means employees who are naturally creative can become demoralised and eventually leave the organisation to find a more appealing opportunity.
This type of leadership focuses on creating success as a result of building lasting relationships with employees and the motivation, job satisfaction and work-life balance of their employees. They still care about getting tasks done, however they believe that work culture is more important. Leaders who use this style concentrate on motivating, supporting and developing their employees. Relationship oriented leaders also promote collaboration and teamwork, by encouraging communication and building positive relationships. The welfare of employees is the top priority for these leaders and as a result, they put time and effort into meeting their employees individual needs.
One of the strengths of this leadership style is that these leaders establish teams that all employees want to be a part of. Members of these teams are often more productive and willing to take risks because they understand that they will get support from the leader if necessary. Another strength is that employees are in an environment where they know their leader cares about there welfare. These leaders know that work place productivity requires creating a positive environment where employees feel motivated. As a result, these leaders prioritise people in order to ensure that issues such as personal conflicts, dissatisfaction and turnover are low.
One of the weaknesses of this leadership style is that focusing on creating team spirit may get in the way of completing tasks and reaching goals. Some leaders can put the development of their team above tasks.
Over the years, studies have been conducted in order to determine if one type is better than the other, however no one behaviour is instrumental to the success of a leader in every situation. The dynamic nature of leadership determines that if a leader is effective, they should be able to balance both types of leadership styles which should be applied in response to a particular situation. This involves some level of self-awareness, you need to work out which style you fall under and take note of when you may need to change up your style to suit a particular situation. If for example you are task oriented you need to soften up, this can be difficult, but it is very important. Start by trying to brush up on your ‘soft’ skills such as listening. For relationship-oriented leaders, they need to do the opposite and toughen up. This could be by being more decisive and setting standards.
Penn State (2013) Balancing Task and Relationship Behaviors [online] https://sites.psu.edu/leadership/2013/05/20/balancing-task-and-relationship-behaviors/
Bell, S. (2017) Task-Oriented vs. People-Oriented Leadership Styles [online] https://bizfluent.com/info-12137619-taskoriented-vs-peopleoriented-leadership-styles.html
Larman, A. (2015) Task-Oriented Vs People-Oriented Leadership Styles [online] http://ezinearticles.com/?Task-Oriented-Vs-People-Oriented-Leadership-Styles&id=9253531
Ruzgar, N. (2018) The Effect of Leaders’ Adoption of Task-Oriented or Relationship-Oriented Leadership Style on Leader-Member Exchange (LMX), In the Organizations That Are Active In Service Sector: A Research on Tourism Agencies. Journal of Business Administration Research. Vol 7:1 pp50-60
Psychometrics refers to ‘the psychological theory or technique of mental measurement’ – (Merriam-Webster 2018). Getting a better sense of a candidate’s personality and behavioural traits is much more difficult in an interview than learning about their skills, education and experience.
As a result, many employers include psychometric testing for assessing current or potential talent and as part of their recruitment process. This is helpful as it gives a better overall evaluation of the candidates and allows you to make a more informed decision about who best fits a role. Not everyone believes that this type of testing is valuable, however those that have used it believe that they get a more objective overview of a candidate’s strengths and weaknesses, character and style of work.
How does psychometric testing help with decisions?
By carrying out psychometric testing, you can learn a lot more about a candidate’s skills, motivation and culture fit.
During the assessment process, interviewers generally assess both skills and experience quite accurately, however it can be slightly subjective, and a lot of the decision can be left up to gut instinct. Psychometric testing however, provides objective data which can help you get a better sense of the candidate’s overall suitability. Some point out that by using psychometric testing, a ‘scientific’ credibility and objectivity can be brought to the recruitment process. If all applicants are given the same standardised test, it may be a more accurate, as well as fair, way of assessing candidates. These tests for the most part, are no longer in the form of pen and paper questionnaires and are becoming more digitised. This makes the process even more efficient as they can be easily integrated into any stage of the process and can be taken anywhere at any time.
Aptitude testing – Verbal and numerical reasoning
This form of testing indicates how capable a candidate is at processing verbal and numerical information within a set time. Today these tests are usually carried out online either before or on assessment day.
Typically these are used at the beginning of a recruitment drive, large organisations tend to use this testing as a way of screening and then eliminating a high volume of candidates. In cases such as these, psychometric testing can massively reduce the work of the hiring manager and the selection of suitable candidates is smaller.
EQ- Emotional Intelligence
This form of testing measures a person capability in understanding their own and other peoples motivations effectively mapping out their relationship management ability a key part of leadership.
It can be very useful to get an insight into the intrinsic motivation of a potential leader. What truly they are interested in and will be drawn towards focusing on. not always be the best way to assess these types of skills.
The most common version of this type of testing is the Myers Briggs 16 personailty factors. This type of test is usually taken online in 20-30 minutes and results are process very quickly. It gives a breakdown of how a person will behave and so interact with others. This of course is very important in understanding how a person will “fit in” with their team and other colleagues.
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We are currently living in a network and knowledge-based society. What this means is that we depend on our relationships in order to develop both professional and individual growth. The problem that arises is most people don’t like to share their knowledge with people they don’t know or don’t like.
Research has suggested that we favour helping those we know and that we like, as opposed to helping people who actually really need help. Throughout the last decade, Soulaima Gourani has spoken to and observed leaders, employees, researchers about this and found that today’s workforce are subject to three rules.
1.The 12 Meter Rule – When we are looking for information or inspiration at work, we favour networking with colleagues are within a 12-meter radius of our workspace, meaning we prefer to ask the colleagues who are physically closest to us.
2.The 7 People Rule – When we need advice, we tend to go to the same seven people in our network. The downside to this is that usually those seven people all know each other or are people we have a lot in common with. A result of this is that we end up reproducing the same and outdated knowledge.
3.The 4 Factor Role – Our instincts and brains encourage us to seek out people with whom we have 4 things in common with, for example age, gender, nationality etc. These are people who remind us of ourselves. We have a tendency to look for information from people who we like, who remind us of ourselves and who are physically close to use. Consequently, we very rarely learn something new.
Our knowledge-based comfort zone is our enemy! Our brains are set up to help us survive, it does this by avoiding taking us into unfamiliar situations and by not putting us in the company of people who are different from us. This can be disastrous both now and in the future, particularly when we are going through major changes in relation to the way we work, where we work and who we work with. Our biggest challenge is that we are controlled by our brain that does not want us to actively seek out unfamiliar situations, changes or people who could challenge us. In the future, the most valuable employees won’t necessarily be the ones with the highest IQ, but the one who can work with others and has a higher EQ which is emotional intelligence.
Make connections- All the intelligence in the universe won’t be any good if you cannot communicate effectively and are no good being around other people. Usually there are about five different factors that will affect whether or not you achieve your goals via your network:
It is important that you are someone people enjoy spending time with. It is also important that you are approachable, available and friendly. The Academy of Management Journal tells us that your mood has a direct effect on whether or not people want to spend time with you. People need to feel as though they can approach you. Over the course of your life you will network with many different types of people and so it is important that you become proficient at reading people. You have to be able to:
It is incredibly important that you learn how to converse. A god conversation establishes a good connection between people. While it may sound simple, many people actually struggle with first of all starting a conversation, then maintaining and engaging people whilst conversing. Even if you think you are a good conversationalist, you should still try to work on improving your ability to have a conversation with different ‘types’ of people. You should take responsibility for developing your relationship, making sure that over time you move from being a formal professional contact to an informal personal contact. The only way you can really get new information and inspiration is through building relationship with people who are different than you.
Your career prospects largely depend on how flexible your comfort zone is and whether or not you are open to working through unfamiliar situations with people different to yourself. Sometimes having someone outside of your work or personal life can help you overcome some of the roadblocks you encounter. For more information on our coaching services click here or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Caprino, K. (2014) The Most Common (And Harmful) Ways People Sabotage Their Own Success [Online] https://www.forbes.com/sites/kathycaprino/2014/04/02/the-most-common-and-harmful-ways-people-sabotage-their-own-success/#6b4fddfd6f3c
Boyes, A. (2018) 5 Ways Smart People Sabotage Their Success [Online] https://hbr.org/2018/11/5-ways-smart-people-sabotage-their-success
Why? Well, nobody likes being in a bad mood. But bad mood is more than just an unpleasant feeling. Mood matters – a lot. If you learn to manage your mood better, it can make a dramatic difference to your life.
What causes a mood?
Unlike emotions, which are at the front of your mind, and carry with them a very specific urge to act in a particular way (anger=fight back, fear= withdraw, like=”approach” interest=”explore” further etc), mood is more diffuse, more free floating, hovering at the back of your mind, with no particular urge to ‘do anything. Rather, moods are capable of affecting everything you do, affecting you in a more total way.
How long does a mood last?
On average 2 hours – quarter of working day. Practically the whole time per day you spend with the people you care about. Everything you do during that 2 hours will be affected by your mood.
Mood affects the way we think;
Mood affects what we remember;
Mood affects our ability to achieve what you have set out to do for the day – or in your life.
Mood affects our relationships with other people;
The role mood plays in productivity
A study carried out by Ohio State University suggests that the mood you have at the start of the day will be vital for having a productive day. The study found that mood had a significant effect on the productivity of employees. If employees were in a good mood, the quality and quantity of their work improved, however if they were in a bad mood, they did less work and the work they did was of lower quality. Another finding showed that the mood an employee was in when they checked in affected how they felt all day. If you start the day in a bad mood, more than likely you will feel down for the whole day and vice versa. Another very interesting finding was that turning a bad mood into a good mood is easier and happens more often than turning a good mood into a bad mood.
A different study by the University of Warwick found that unhappy workers were 10% less productive than their co-workers. Happiness however, led to a 12% increase in productivity. The researchers came to the conclusion that “human happiness has large and positive causal effects on productivity. Positive emotions appear to invigorate human beings.” Other research has suggested that there is a link between mood and procrastination. We tend to procrastinate more when we are in a negative mood
When you are in a positive mood all your goals seem attainable and as a result you feel more confident and can act more effectively. You are determined to get things done and so you engage more energetically with your tasks. When you are in a negative mood the opposite happens, you want to be left alone and are more focused on yourself than your tasks and are less inclined to actively engage with the issue and solve the problem.
Make sleep a priority – Sleep has a huge impact on your mood. Studies have shown that if you are sleep deprived you will be more stressed, sad, angry and mentally exhausted. If you are lacking sleep, you will also have lower willpower and energy and as a result your productivity will suffer. It is vital that you get enough sleep, this might mean doing things such as keeping a sleep schedule.
Create Momentum in the Morning – Try to be as disciplined and productive as possible in the first couple of hours of the day. We should try to create positive momentum in the first couple of hours. This means getting up and getting as much done as we possibly can. The objective here is to make some progress on meaningful goals. Making progress on these goals will boost your mood as well as your motivation. Teresa Amabile calls this the ‘Progress Principle’ she states:
“Through exhaustive analysis of diaries kept by knowledge workers, we discovered the progress principle: Of all the things that can boost emotions, motivation, and perceptions during a workday, the single most important is making progress in meaningful work. And the more frequently people experience that sense of progress, the more likely they are to be creatively productive in the long run. Whether they are trying to solve a major scientific mystery or simply produce a high-quality product or service, everyday progress — even a small win — can make all the difference in how they feel and perform.”
If you can make some progress on your life goals at the start of the day, then you will be in a more positive mood for the rest of the day.
Exercise in the morning – It is no secret that exercise is good for your mood as chemicals released during exercise boost your mood, and so exercise is one of the best ways to increase your mood. Doing this in the morning as we have already mentioned, will put you in a good mood for the rest of the day.
Celebrate small victories – As we have discovered, making progress increases our positive mood and motivation. However, our brain is not wired to pick up on progress, only things that could be a threat. The brain filters out all the positives and focuses on the negatives. Rick Hanson a neuroscientist has said that “The mind is like Velcro for negative experiences and Teflon for positive ones.” This is not good from the perspective of our moods as we then overlook all the progress we have made and focus on the setbacks we have encountered, which puts us in a negative mood. By making a list of our daily accomplishments we can try to lessen the effects of the brain’s negativity and give your mood and motivation a boost.
Get some sun! – One study compared 2 groups of people. Both groups did a 90-minute walk however, one did it in the city whilst the other did a nature walk. There were very little changes reported by the city group, however the nature group reported a lift in mood and had fewer negative thoughts about themselves. MRI scans showed that there was less activity in the area of the brain responsible for negative thoughts and mood regulation in the nature group. This was not the case with the city group. A different study also found that just 5 minutes of ‘green exercise’ such as walking, gardening, cycling etc is enough to increase your self-esteem and mood.
Label Negative Emotions – Everyone has some off days where they feel anxiety, fear, anger etc. What else can you do to counteract these feelings. Neuroscience has suggested that by just putting a label on your emotions can help reduce the power they have over you. David Rock has stated that:
““To reduce arousal, you need to use just a few words to describe an emotion, and ideally use symbolic language, which means using indirect metaphors, metrics, and simplifications of your experience. This requires you to activate your prefrontal cortex, which reduces the arousal in the limbic system. Here’s the bottom line: describe an emotion in just a word or two, and it helps reduce the emotion.”
It is clear that your mood has a serious affect on your productivity whether that be in a positive or negative way. Once you start your day in either a positive or negative way you will more than likely stay in that mood for the rest of the day. This is why being able to manage your mood is a hugely important skill in relation to productivity. It is important that you try as best you can to put yourself in a positive mood as it not only affects your productivity, but also the people around you. In the workplace people don’t always know what puts them in a certain mood or don’t feel like they can discuss it with their manager or boss and could benefit from talking this through with a coach outside of their company. For more information on our leadership/team coaching click here or email email@example.com
Gaffney, M (2012) Managing your Mood [Online] https://www.rte.ie/radio1/marian-finucane/features/2012/0915/351652-maureen-gaffney-moods/
Salzgeber, N (2017) Want to be more productive? Manage your . . . mood! [Online] https://medium.com/@nilssalzgeber/want-to-be-more-productive-manage-your-mood-666e94bf9024
Ohio State University, (2011) Got up on the wrong side of the bed? Your work will show it [Online] https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2011-04/osu-guo040411.php
Warwick University, (2014) Happiness and Productivity. [Online] https://warwick.ac.uk/newsandevents/pressreleases/new_study_shows/
Do you know where your team goes when they want to learn some new information or a new skill? A study carried out by Harvard Business Review found that 55% of employees ask their co-workers, this is second only to going straight to their boss. Peer to Peer learning can be an exceptionally powerful tool for development.
In spite of this, many organisations still do not have a formal structure for this type of learning. In a survey carried out by McKinsey, L&D officers state that although classroom learning and on the job application of skills are now being used on a regular basis as learning mechanisms, less than 50% of organisations have implemented formal peer to peer learning. 33% of those surveyed stated that their organisations have absolutely no systems in place which allows for employees to share learning.
Whilst researching for their book The Expertise Economy, Palmer and Blake found that quite a lot of the time, managers can be hesitant to establish formal peer to peer learning because the feel as though experts outside the company are more valuable as teachers, as well as because these programs are spread out over a number of sessions. Consequently, employers feel as though sending their employees to a one-day intense training course delivered by an outside expert is more effective.
This however is not the case, firstly this type of learning uses the expertise within your organisation. There are incredibly intelligent people in every organisation, a lot could be gained if peers shared their skills and expertise as everyone involved will learn new skills.
The best way for anybody to learn a new skill is by being in situations where all four stages of the ‘Learning Loop’ are present. The learning loop includes gaining knowledge, apply the knowledge, get feedback and reflect on the learning. Peer to peer learning is such a great way to learn as it includes each of these areas. Another benefit is that the format of peer to peer learning helps those involved to develop both leadership and management skills. By taking part in group reflection conversations, employees can develop skills such as both giving and accepting constructive feedback. It also gives employees experience in taking different points of view into account and developing skills like empathy.
How to set up a Peer Learning Program
When it comes to setting up a peer to peer learning program, there are a number of different forms it could take. The program could be held in person or now with the advancements in technology, online. The program could include weekly meetings where employees can share the new skills/knowledge they have learned with their co-workers. Alternatively the program could pair up employees for one on one sessions, or they could assist with current projects over a number of months.
Palmer and Blake suggest a number of best practices to follow in order to make your peer to peer learning program successful.
These peer to peer learning programs can be hugely beneficial to your employees and ultimately your organisation. These programs compliment the traditional learning programs and as a result your team can build relationship and skills that will allow them to improve on their performance.
Palmer, K. Blake, D. 2018 How to Help Your Employees Learn from Each Other [Online] https://hbr.org/2018/11/how-to-help-your-employees-learn-from-each-other
The main task of a leader is to direct attention. In order to do this, leaders have to learn how to focus their own attention. When speaking about being focused, we tend to mean thinking about one specific thing whilst filtering out everything else. However, a huge amount of research in neuroscience has now shown that we focus in a lot of different ways, for different reasons using different neural pathways.
By putting the different modes of attention into three broad categories, focusing on yourself, focusing on others and focusing on the wider world, new light can be shed on a number of different leadership skills. By focusing on themselves and focusing on others, leaders can improve their emotional intelligence. Whilst understanding the way in which they focus on the wider world can help improve their ability to innovate, devise strategy and manage organisations.
Focusing on Yourself
Emotional intelligence starts with self-awareness. Leaders who are more self-aware can draw on more resources in order to make better decisions.
Focusing on Others
It is easy to recognise Executives who can focus on others effectively. These Executives are usually the ones who can find common ground, whose opinions mean the most and the ones with whom other people want to work. No matter the social or organisational rank, they emerge as natural leaders.
Cognitive empathy – which is the ability to understand the perspective of another person. It allows leaders to explain themselves in meaningful ways, which is crucial in getting the best out of their direct reports. This type of empathy requires leaders to think about feelings as opposed to directly feeling them.
Emotional empathy – which is the ability to feel what another person feels. This is important for reading group dynamics, effective mentoring and management of clients.
Empathic concern – which is the ability to sense what someone else needs from you. This is closely related to emotional empathy and allows you to sense both how people feel and what it is that they need from you. Empathic concern requires a person to manage their personal distress without closing themselves off to the pain of others. Some research has suggested that the application of empathic concern is vital in making moral judgements.
Focusing on the Wider World
Leaders who have a strong outward focus tend to be both good listeners and good questioners. They tend to be visionaries who can sense the consequences of decisions and visualise how the choices they make now will work out in the future.
To summarise, focused leaders are in tune with how they feel, understand how other people see them, can manage their impulses, can tune out distractions and comprehend what other people need from them. This can be quite difficult and takes willingness and determination. If you would like to improve your skills or that of your team with leadership coaching, find out more information about our coaching services through or website.
Goleman, D. (2013) The Focused Leader [online] https://hbr.org/2013/12/the-focused-leader
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