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Nine Excuses for Not Leading Morale and One Overarching Truth


I’ve been connected with Kate Nasser for a few years now thanks to Social Media. Her insights on leadership, people skills, and customer service have helped leaders globally make a positive change. Last month she released her book, Leading Morale. I’m happy to share with you her insights on Leading Morale here on the Break the Frame blog.

Through the years of working with leaders on employee engagement and high morale, I have seen some leaders embrace leading morale and others avoid it.  You may have worked for some leaders who did and some who didn’t.  This difference raises the question:

Why? What stops leaders from leading morale?

They claim they don’t have time. They say they are working on the business not in the business. The truth is they do have time. They choose to use their time in other ways.

They think morale is not something you can create/lead. It just happens and then you fix it when it’s broken. This is false.

They believe morale is touchy-feely and applies only to overly sensitive people. This is absurd. Morale applies to everyone regardless of age, gender, race, educational level, etc…

They hold on to the old management Theory X which states that treating people well makes them weak and lazy.  I always knew this was false.  It was purely insensitive leaders justifying their lack of compassion.

They are uncomfortable with positive emotion.  They cringe at the thought of praising employees’ talents and appreciating their contributions.

They believe they don’t have the personality for it.  Some Driver types who crave results see human needs like morale as secondary.  Some introverts picture leading morale as an energy-draining exhausting activity and avoid it.

They fear they will be trapped in employee emotions.  They think this will detour and delay business results.  By the way, it’s not true.

They think that leading morale will make them look weak.  Their image of great leaders is limited to toughness. How sad.  Truly great leaders encourage others with their strength, courage, AND emotional intelligence.

They don’t know how to lead morale.  Good news — you can learn.

All of these reasons emerged as I worked with leaders in different businesses and workplace cultures.  Yet recently, upon the publication of my book Leading Morale, a comment from a LinkedIn connection reminded me of one overarching truth.  You might even say it’s #10 on the list.

The Story

The LinkedIn connection is an owner of a large franchise.  In response to a LinkedIn article I wrote about leading morale by honoring employee dignity, he commented:

“No employee will change me.  If they don’t like working for me, they can just quit!”

Wow. Can you picture what it must be like working for him? What the environment and culture must be like? How high the turnover is? Just imagine the low morale!  You can envision the owner wearing a shirt that says…d

So back to our initial question, what stops leaders from leading morale?  In addition to the above list, there is one overarching truth: If you don’t care, you can’t lead morale.

Leaders who don’t care simply won’t do it.  The desire to serve others — to care for others — to lead humans to incredible heights — must be there.

You don’t have to be an extrovert to lead morale. You don’t have to be a charismatic speaker nor the smartest person on earth to lead morale.  You must be a compassionate person who can balance care and strength to meet business demands.  This truth is inescapable:

To lead morale you must care about people.

One cautionary step, leaders, before you make your final decision on whether to lead morale.  Ask yourselves this:

If you don’t care about those you lead, why should they care about you and making your team or your business a success?

Related: 25 Life Experiences that Require Strong Everyday Leadership

If your answer is “a paycheck”, you are fooling yourselves.  The studies are clear about the new generations in the workforce.  A paycheck is not enough to make them care or keep them there.

Lead with morale! It’s worth it.

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