I recently stumbled onto a quote from Yale professor Nicholas Christakis:

“We’ve shown that altruistic behavior ripples through networks, and so does meanness. Networks will magnify whatever they are seeded with. They will magnify Ebola and fascism and unhappiness and violence, but also they will magnify love and altruism and happiness and information.”

The concept of behaviors growing and rippling through an organization or a system isn’t necessarily new or maybe novel, but this morning it struck me as incredibly important to consider, evaluate, and take action on. If the system magnifies the behavior that it is seeded with, it places additional/renewed importance on defining and controlling which behaviors are appropriate and inappropriate within our organizations. We’ve heard the saying, “one bad apple spoils the bunch” – the concept here is the same, and as we look at our teams and our organizations, the impact can be catastrophic for productivity, retention, recruiting, and satisfaction.

As you look at yourself (hold up the mirror!), our teams, and our organizations, are there behaviors that have been left unchecked? Is there a team member that has been allowed to demonstrate poor behavior but has been “left alone” because they are also a “high performer”? Are we allowing behaviors to continue because we hope they go away or don’t have the energy/skills to address them?

Data suggests that if a behavior (unhappiness, meanness, anger, rudeness, disrespect, etc.) is allowed to continue, it will magnify and grow vs. die out. What is a conversation that you have been putting off that you can address today? How can you change the tide today and seed your system with the types of behaviors that are nurturing, happy, giving, or those that actually allow you and your organization to live your values?

My hope is that this causes us all to pause and consider how each of us can do a little more to seed and grow environments of hope and love.

Here are a few suggestions to help with your evaluation. Stop to consider:

  • Are there any individuals or behaviors that have been brought up and not addressed? What has been left lingering?
  • Are there instances that you are not living in alignment with your personal values? Are there instances where individuals are not living in alignment with your organization’s values?
  • Are you surrounded by people who raise your positive energy or who drag you down?
  • Are you personally bringing positive or negative energy?

Take a few minutes to consider these questions, your impact on your system, and the impact of others.

Awareness is step one. Step two is to make change. Have the difficult conversations to address disruptive behavior. Make the choice to show up differently and work on pausing so you show up with your best energy every single time.

We create the ripples that are magnified within our organizations and every system that we participate in. How are you contributing?