Team morale matters. Most managers already know this.

But understanding why morale matters and how to increase it is what separates a manager from a leader.

A poor manager will look at team morale as an obstacle to overcome. He will view it like a pebble in his shoe that must be dealt with from time to time. Similar to inconvenient maintenance on a vehicle, this manager will begrudgingly implement a trendy team-building exercise or purchase new software to “enhance employee feedback loops.”

These tactics are not necessarily wrong, but they may reveal an incorrect perspective on morale.

A wise leader sees morale in a very different light.

A wise leader knows morale is a vital resource, not an inconvenience. Morale is the gas in the tank of the organization rather than an air filter that needs to be occasionally dusted off.

A leader who correctly understands the significance of team morale will build her leadership style around this upside down idea: It is more productive to focus on team health than team goals.

The reason is as simple as it is true. An unhealthy team may produce for a short time, but a healthy team will produce long term.

The Scripture is not subtle about the significance of this principle.

“Better is a dry morsel with quiet than a house full of feasting with strife.” (Proverbs 17:1)

This verse is telling us that peace with little is better than conflict with much.

Even though it would be reasonable to assume the people feasting are enjoying a better life, the above verse reveals something very different.

Why?

The answer is found a few verses later.

“A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” (Proverbs 17:22)

It is good medicine for the soul to experience joy and be around joyful people. The absence of that is misery.

This truth directly impacts your organization’s bottom line.

According to Forbes.com, “Happy employees are up to 20% more productive than unhappy employees. When it comes to salespeople, happiness has an even greater impact, raising sales by 37% …The stock prices of Fortune’s “100 Best Companies to Work for” rose 14% per year from 1998 to 2005, while companies not on the list only reported a 6% increase.”

Make team morale a primary focus rather than an issue of occasional maintenance.

You’ll be happy you did.

P.S. You can take initiative in this area by being joyful yourself. If you are consistently grumpy, physically unavailable or emotionally detached from your team, you are sending a clear message that you do not value healthy teams or high morale.

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