Research has made it clear that all our emotions are contagious, and they tend to flow from the most powerful person in the room. Stress has been found to be especially contagious. Just observing someone who is stressed is enough to cause the brain to dump stress hormones into the body, triggering a fight or flight stress reaction in the one observing. That means the observer is likely to become emotionally negative, lose higher mental functionlike attention, concentration, learning and memory, and temporarily experience a 40 percent decline in IQ.
In short, a stressed leader dumbs down their team. We should all remember this fact the next time we walk into a room to lead a group.
There is a happy flip side to this. Researchers at the Wharton School found that when a leader is emotionally positive, the opposite happens. Their team members experience an increase in positive mood that translates into more cooperation, less interpersonal conflict, and they outperform teams where the leader is stressed and negative.
It is not hard to see the value of being aware of our emotional state and using it to facilitate peak performance. We can train ourselves to be aware of our own emotional state and shift it to the positive to raise the emotional intelligence of the people we lead. Click here to see how.