I find most people confuse morale and mood. You can have high morale, but a bad mood, in an organization. Conversely, you can have good mood, but low morale. That’s because they are somewhat related but distinct concepts.

Morale is the willingness to do what it takes to succeed and to overcome obstacles to achieve desired outcomes. When you look at it that way, it’s relatively easy to see that a group can have high morale but everyone can still be in a bad mood. For instance, a sports team can have high morale, and because of that, be thoroughly pissed off because they’ve lost a game.

There can even be internal conflict, and that still wouldn’t necessarily lower morale. A lot of highly successful rock bands have had a lot of internal conflict and rivalry (the Beatles and the Rolling Stones) and that led to massive creativity, but they didn’t necessarily all like each other or “get along.” That, to me, is a sign of high morale.

In a sense, I think that low morale is a kind of collective depression. When people start saying “what’s the use” and “why are we even doing this”, those are sure signs that morale is slipping.

There is more on this in this newsletter I wrote about 4 years ago:

On Morale and Cohesion

Here is a list of signs of high morale I made a few years ago:

Optimism
Realism
Cooperation and mutual aid
Hard work and sacrifices
Constructive criticism
Confidence in self and leaders

© 2010 Richard Martin. Reproduction and quotes permitted with full and proper attribution.

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