Have you heard of the term “leading by example”? It essentially means how leaders intentionally or inadvertently set the standards in their business. As the leader, their leadership style filters down to their employees as they adapt to their surroundings — and sometimes mirror their leader’s actions for various reasons. The phrase “monkey see, monkey do,” is highly applicable here. Most bosses lead by example, without them even realizing it! So why does it seem like your employees are following you? Below are some reasons why.

Your Employees Want to Fit In

Say for example someone new starts in the office. They don’t know anyone, they don’t know how to act in their new surroundings, and they’re probably quite nervous. The first instinct to kick in would be to find a way to fit in — and the first person they will look to will be their leader. To fit in with the rest of the office, employees may:


  • Copy dress. Does the boss wear a fitted shirt, dress pants, and no tie? Or does the boss wear jeans to work every day? Regardless the type of dress the boss wears, employees will wear likely wear the same. “Fundamentally, fashion is about relating to each other in groups,” says Julia Twigg, professor of social policy and sociology at the University of Kent. “Most people are very concerned at the idea of not fitting in.”
  • Adapt to Talking Styles. Does the boss speak eloquently, or does the boss use curse words in the office? Is there a phrase the boss often says, like “cool beans”? Bosses set the tone in the office, and that also includes speech patterns. According to The Telegraph, human brains imitate the speech patterns of other people without meaning to. It’s a subconscious action because as people interact with one another, they mimic each other’s speech patterns to “empathise” with their conversation partner. And yes, that even includes employees who have a different accent than their boss, then will adapt their speech style!

Your Employees Want to Be Liked

Call it brown-nosing, call it sweet-talk, or call it kissing up, but employees want to be liked by their leaders. In fact, in a survey conducted by Debenhams, two-thirds of managers admitted to a “heightened awareness” of staff with a similar style to themselves — and may give kudos to employees who are similar to themselves.

Your Employees Might Be Looking for a Promotion

And if employees are trying hard to be liked by their bosses, they might be looking for a promotion. “Bosses often appoint and promote people who are like them,” says Dr. Karen Pine, a psychologist from the University of Hertfordshire. “Boards are renowned for electing members that resemble existing ones.” Employees want to find commonality with their bosses. This can include ways of dress and speech patterns, and even going so far as to having the same tastes in food or hobbies.