Two essential skills of highly effective leaders are the ability to assess the morale and mood of their team, and the ability to maintain morale in the face of difficulties and obstacles. This is something I talk about extensively in my new book, Brilliant Manoeuvres: How to Use Military Wisdom to Win Business Battles.

Morale is the willingness of an individual, team or organization to win and to succeed. Many people confuse true morale with superficialities such as mood. They take good humour and happy, peaceful feelings as signs of good morale when they are nothing but an adjunct to morale, and a peripheral one at that.

In other words, just because people complain, it doesn’t mean that morale isn’t good. Strong morale is built upon unity of purpose and action, determination to succeed and cohesion in the face of opposition, disruptions, uncertainty, friction and obstacles.

How is the morale in your team?

  • Do you sense that people in your team have hope? Is the language they use optimistic and hopeful, or pessimistic and despairing?
  • Are people making plans for the future with themselves in the plans, or are they instead making plans to abandon ship?
  • Do people have a lot of idle time, or are they working on ways to continually improve the organization and its performance?

How is the mood in your organization?

  • Are people happy to be working together? Do they joke around or are they morose?
  • Do people complain a lot in your organization? What do they complain about? Do they complain about superficial things and minor creature comforts, or are they more focused on substantial issues?
  • Do people feel free to approach management with issues, or do they let them fester and lead to grievances?
  • Are people making suggestions to improve things as a whole, so the team can achieve its mission and goals, or are they focused on their own issues to the exclusion of the team’s?
  • Is there a major discrepancy in perks and privileges between management and the rank and file of the organization? Large differences in this regard can breed resentment and anger in employees and lower level managers.

© 2012 Richard Martin

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