Ruminating on work harms leaders' performance: Study

Being in constant work mode can damage a leader's performance, according to a recent study covered by The Wall Street Journal

The study, originally published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, surveyed 73 managers each workday morning for two weeks. Managers were asked how much they agreed with statements like, "Last night after work, I found it easy to unwind from work" and "Last night after work, I felt tense when thinking about work-related issues," which gauged their ability to detach from their jobs. Then, they were asked how much they agreed with statements like, "I feel drained right now" or "My mind feels unfocused right now," meant to gauge their feelings of depletion. 

Five percent of the variation in managers' responses could be explained by their ability to detach from work the night before — and that number is more significant than it sounds, Remy Jennings, PhD, co-author of the paper and an assistant professor at Tallahassee-based Florida State University's College of Business, told the Journal

"To some, 5% might seem small, but if we think of all the things that could affect how much energy a leader has in the morning (how well they slept, what they ate, their stress level, etc.), we believe that explaining 5% of the day-to-day differences is actually rather significant," Dr. Jennings said. 

Plus, managers were more likely to view themselves as leaders if they were not depleted. Their employees — one was surveyed for every boss — were also more likely to report that their managers communicated effectively, rethought procedures, displayed enthusiasm and were listened to if they were not depleted. 

View the full study here.

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