Chapter 4Emotional Contagion

If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.


Barry is a friend of mine. Like me he runs a successful business employing around 160 people. When we get together, he's a cheerful, fun-loving guy. His company develops software for the manufacturing industry. They build software and have been marketing it mostly throughout North America. Also like me he's been doing it for more than 30 years. However, he seems to complain often about the turnover rate at his company. Programmers are getting harder to find, he reports, and more expensive to train. Turnover also causes delays in getting out new versions of the software and repairing software bugs. In addition, they are being held back in making a major push to release their software in the cloud and have faced a number of delays mainly due to staffing.

Barry also tells me his revenues have stalled for the past five years. Up until that time, the company enjoyed double-digit growth each year. Part of the reason for the stall has been the shrinking market for enterprise software and anticipation of cloud versions. Barry invited me to come and look at what was going on in his organization.

One of the first things I noticed when I walked into the building was the general mood of the organization. Everyone I passed by had their head down into their screens. It was quieter than a library. Not only that, but as we walk by the workstations ...

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