The Two Contagious Behaviours of a Great Boss

WSJ, 2018-09-22


  • Bosses DO know their behaviours are contagious.

  • However, not all of them know which behaviours make the team stronger and those which backfire.


  • It’s a pattern of projecting joyfulness, optimism, enthusiasm and humour.

  • Upside 1: teams feel better about the work they do (the work is not necessarily excellent).

  • Upside 2: teams led by positive managers outperform teams with depressive managers.

  • Downside 1: leaders perceived as leisurely, hedonistic, etc. score low on integrity and accountability.

o   Endless cheering in crisis leads to cringe and quick loss of authority/trust.

o   Swinging to anger in crisis may work OK to rally up a team but is toxic when the crisis’s end is visible.

Proposed Solution

  • Relentlessness – when one person shows an extraordinary effort, this may compel others to follow and give more. [MK: watch for those who are irritated by this behaviour and see if they’re in the grey list.]

  • Requires personal sacrifices, but surprisingly doesn’t require exceptional talent (this gives many of us hope).

  • Emotional Control – while this may make a person look cold and reserved, this helps with humility and focus on the task and resources/people instead of personal feelings. This scores people higher on the integrity scale.

  • Regulating emotions is exhausting. It isolates leaders from teams, but in crisis this brings people around the visibly confident leader.