I suppose the answer to that question is whether they use a handkerchief or just sneeze over everyone. It follows that good behaviour – using a handkerchief – protects and sets a good, social, example. Not covering their mouth is antisocial and a poor example. Our behaviour can have the same effect on those we lead.

My mother and father always stressed that – as the eldest child of five – it was up to me to set a good example to my siblings.

My father (a senior non-commissioned officer in the army) gave me the same advice when I served, especially when I was commissioned as an officer in the Royal Air Force. I was advised to lead by my example!

I took that same advice into my subsequent roles as a manager and consultant and ultimately when I ran my own company.

I have always believed that it is up to the leader to behave in such a way that those he or she leads cannot help but try to emulate them.

Copying the behaviour – good or bad – of leaders or peers is called ‘Behavioural contagion’. This phrase was first used by Gustave Le Bon in 1895 when he was looking to describe crowd behaviour and the influence of an individual on a group.

Read more in an excellent article by Will Yakowicz – staff writer at Inc.com… ‘Your Behavior Is Contagious to Employees’