As many leaders know, talk is cheap and word travels fast in workplaces, often making them a rumour mill for misinformation. Dealing with the problem can be difficult for those in leadership positions, not least because they are often the last to hear the latest gossip, or may not even get wind of it until many months down the line. Indeed, when misinformation spreads it can engender a sense of distrust and malaise across teams and departments, thereby affecting productivity and overall employee satisfaction.

Fortunately, there are things that can be done to combat harmful rumours and their spread. The best thing that a leader can do is prevent it from happening in the first place. The following tips provide some good places to start.

1. Set out some solid rules about workplace gossip

When a new employee joins, make sure they are made aware of your company’s zero-tolerance approach towards the spread of misinformation. This is particularly important in regards to the disclosure of sensitive information, particularly for managers and those in senior positions. Indeed, severe consequences should be put in place for the disclosure of such information. Colleagues should be warned of the disciplinary action that will be taken against offenders, including the kinds of action that will be used. A termination is a possible option for the worst infringements of policy.

2. Set a good example

As the leader of a company or group of people, it is your job to lead by example. Do not engage in gossip of any kind, even if you think the information is relatively safe with a certain person. Indeed, the spread of rumours among the higher echelons of a company can make the management seem particularly bureaucratic or corrupt, and a feeling of discontent can trickle down throughout the company. Set yourself a rule to walk away from any conversation which could potentially descend into gossip.

3. Keep your private life to yourself

Although it may only seem human to discuss your weekend activities and hobbies, and details of your loving family with colleagues, it can leave you vulnerable to critique. Avoid the tendency to confide about any problems in other workers too. As a leader, it is your job to make sure that work is being done and that employees are content, and taking interpersonal relationships too far can complicate this. Instead, focus on promoting positive gossip by providing employees with kernels of praise for the good work that is being done throughout the business.

For more tips on improving your leadership skills, check out the blog at Anthony Gregg Partnership.

Fortune Brainstorm TECH 2012 by Fortune Live Media licensed under Creative commons 6