Angry businessman

You’re probably used to employees paying attention to your actions. But did you know the way you comport yourself in stressful situations can have a material effect on your staff’s conduct?

Read: The 4 Things Great Bosses Do

Ann Peng, assistant professor at the University of Western Ontario’s Ivey School of Business, and her fellow researchers recently studied leadership in high-stakes situations by reviewing surveys completed by 2,500 U.S. army soldiers deployed in Iraq. That research found that when leaders partook in so-called “abusive supervision” (yelling, calling a staffer stupid or not giving credit for good work), their direct subordinates were more likely to engage in unethical conduct such as stealing or falsifying reports.

By contrast, leaders who demonstrated empathy and the willingness to hear feedback in even the most pressure-filled moments saw employees engage in much more ethical behaviour.

Consider this a reminder to keep your cool—whether you’re facing a crisis on the battlefield or in the boardroom.

Read: Research ties emotional intelligence to smarter business decisions

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