the room — Winston Churchill
of training young braves. On the night of a boy’s thirteenth birthday,
after learning hunting, scouting, and fishing skills, he was put to
one final test. He was placed in a dense forest to spend the entire
night alone. He was blindfolded and taken several miles away. When he
took off the blindfold, he was in the middle of a thick woods and he
Every time a twig snapped, he visualized a wild animal ready to
pounce. After what seemed like an eternity, dawn broke and the first
rays of sunlight entered the interior of the forest. Looking around,
the boy saw flowers, trees, and the outline of a path. Then, to his
utter astonishment, he beheld the figure of a man standing just a few
feet away, armed with a bow and arrow. It was his father. He had been
there all along.
Good leaders know a thing or two about protecting that which is
important. The success of your business or organization is linked to
the morale of its employees or volunteers. While everyone’s happiness
is not the responsibility of the leader, it is in the best interest of
the leader to see to it that strong morale in the work environment is
maintained for maximum benefit.
Why does this matter to the leader and why should it be on his or her
radar? Workplace morale seems to always be a challenge. The Daily News
last year cited a Gallup report showing that 70 percent of Americans
polled either hate their job or are “disengaged” from their work, and
even perks don’t work if they’re unhappy with management. Until you
make the building and maintain of strong morale a priority it will
continue to be a negative issue you contend with. Here are five ways
you can work to protect it.
1.) Put others first.
This is a basic leadership principle but one that yields high returns
when applied. System-wide, when people within your organization learn
to put others first it sends the message that you are committed not
only to your own success but to the success of those you work with.
The all-in is a signal of your buy-in which makes coming to work more
pleasant. When you don’t have to question where others’ loyalties lie,
it’s like a breath of fresh air. You build and protect morale by
putting others first.
2.) Have your people’s backs.
Nothing will promote strong morale among your people quicker than when
they know you have their backs. You give your team the ability to
excel and create when they know you support them and when they know
you have their backs not just in the good times but in the down times.
Loyalty cuts both ways and when you demonstrate it both in words and
actions you are protecting your morale not just for today but for
tomorrow. Having their backs is about trust and it is a much needed
stabilizer when team members don’t have to second guess you.
3.) Keep your word.
Protecting morale is saying you will have their backs and then having
it. Having the backs of your people is not giving them carte’ blanch
for things that are not in keeping with your values and goals. But it
is about you as the leader giving team members permission to use their
creative powers to grow and produce. You keep your word by giving your
support and equipping them with the necessary tools for their
development. You keep your word by being their chief defender when
they come under unfair attacks. Keep your word and you will protect
morale. It’s an issue of respect.
4.) Be consistent.
Nothing will undermine the morale in your office or organization
quicker than the inconsistencies of the leadership. Sadly, petty turf
wars, jealousies, and office politics can sabotage office morale when
self-interests and the actions of a few create a climate that affects
the whole. As the leader, this is on-going battle you must be on guard
against. A strong leader will be consistent in their dealings with
5.) Effective communication.
There is a difference between regular communication and effective
communication. A smart leader will not take it for granted that just
because they put forth information that it is enough. George Bernard
Shaw said, “The single biggest problem in communication is the
illusion that it has taken place.” Effective leaders communicate, and
protect morale, not by edict but by relationship. The burden is on
you, not your people, for how well you communicate. Don’t leave it to
chance. Protect morale by strong communication skills.
What do you say?
Doug Dickerson is a syndicated columnist. He writes a weekly column
for this newspaper. To contact Doug Dickerson, email him at