As a story goes, the early American Indians had a unique practice of training young braves.

On the night of a boy’s 13th 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 wood and he was terrified.

Every time a twig snapped, he visualised 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.

Why staff morale is important

Good leaders know a thing or two about protecting that which is important.

The success of your business or organisation 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 radar?

Workplace morale seems to always be a challenge. The Daily News last year cited a Gallup report that showed that 70 per cent of Americans polled either hate their job or are “disengaged” from their work, and even perks don’t work if they are unhappy with management.

Until you make the building and maintenance of strong morale a priority, it will continue to be an issue you have to contend with.

Here are five ways you can boost workplace morale:

 Put others first

This is a basic leadership principle but one that yields high returns when applied.

System-wide, when people within your organisation learn to put others first, it sends the message that you are committed not only to your own success but also to the success of those you work with, and it makes coming to work much more pleasant.

When you don’t have to question where others’ loyalties lie, it is like a breath of fresh air. You build and protect morale by putting others first.

 Give them your firm support

Nothing will promote strong morale among your people quicker than when they know that you back them all the way.

You give your team members the ability to excel and create when they know you support them 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 business’s morale not just for today, but also for tomorrow.

Watching their backs is about trust and it is a much-needed stabiliser because team members don’t have to second-guess your commitment to them.

 Keep your word

Protecting morale is saying you will back your people and then doing it.

This is not giving them carte blanche, or complete freedom, for things that are not in keeping with your values and goals.

But it is about you as the leader giving team members the 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 also keep your word by being their chief defender when they come under unfair attack. Keep your word and you will protect morale. It is an issue of respect.

 Be consistent

Nothing will undermine the morale in your office or organisation quicker than the inconsistencies of the leadership.

Sadly, petty turf wars, jealousy and office politics can sabotage office morale when self-interest and the actions of a few create a climate that affects many.

As the leader, this is an on-going battle you must fight against. A strong leader will be consistent in his dealings with everyone.

  Communicate effectively

There is a difference between regular communication and effective communication.

A smart leader will not take it for granted that merely offering some information will be enough for his people.

As 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 with strong communication skills.

Article by Doug Dickerson. He is an author and public speaker whose leadership expertise has its roots in his teaching marketing and business background. Article source: