“Morale is faith in the person at the top” (Anonymous).
IN MOST OF THE GROUPS THAT WE’RE MEMBERS OF, GREAT THINGS DEPEND ON THE MORALE OF THE GROUP. If those who make up a group are collectively discouraged, depressed, negligent, and unwilling to work, it’s not likely that good things are going to result. But if they’re confident, cheerful, disciplined, and eager to contribute, there aren’t many goals that can’t be accomplished by the group. In all collective endeavors, very much depends on morale.
Leaders need to understand and accept the fact that morale among the “troops” is largely a matter of whether the troops believe the leaders know what they’re doing. Great morale comes from leadership being trusted — trusted to lead successfully in the direction of goals that are held by all to be good and important.
But if “morale is faith in the person at the top,” many people would say, “Morale is not my responsibility; I’m not the person at the top.” If we think that way, we’re probably taking a somewhat limited view of our lives. We’re probably only thinking of one or two of our relationships, such as work or school. But in the larger reality, all of us are members of dozens of different relationships, and every one of us has the responsibility for leadership in at least some of these.
Think of a relationship, however small, in which others look to you for leadership. How is the morale? Is the relationship encouraged or discouraged? Could you make a difference by leading differently?
Sometimes without realizing it, the thing that we share with others is our fear, rather than our courage. But folks usually have enough fears of their own. So Robert Louis Stevenson gave good advice when he said, “Keep your fears to yourself, but share your courage.”
We need to value good morale enough to promote it and protect it. And doing that often doesn’t require the taking of big steps; it only requires that we take small steps in the right direction. Those who’re following us just need to know that genuine progress is being made.
“When enthusiasm is inspired by reason; controlled by caution; sound in theory; practical in application; reflects confidence; spreads good cheer; raises morale; inspires associates; arouses loyalty, and laughs at adversity, it is beyond price” (Coleman Cox).