March 26, 2022

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Boosting Staff Morale for Workplace Success: Leadership Lessons from President Zelenskyy

Staff morale at work is not a tangible thing. It is that elusive thing we feel but can’t touch, it’s in the atmosphere and the energy around us. It is present in the lack of smiles on the faces of employees at work, the overwhelm, burnout, conflicts, and high attrition rates. It is present in the way employees relate to each other and how leaders relate to their subordinates.

Low morale is present when managers can’t collaborate, and teams become dysfunctional. So, what is this morale thing and how can we tame it, address it, and change it into a work culture of harmony?

A team can have high morale or low morale. Whether your team is small, medium or large, good morale will determine how effectively they work together, solve problems, overcome upset, learn from mistakes, and win at all costs.

According to the dictionary, morale is the confidence, enthusiasm, and discipline that a group shows, it is the passion and focus. It is displayed as a sense of belonging and togetherness to get the job done. It is that sense of; “we are in this together and we will do it”.

According to CEO Magazine, staff morale and inclusion policies are reliable indicators of the corporate bottom line and success. The world has not seen such amazing and tireless leadership as is unfolding in Ukraine.

Good morale is what the people of Ukraine are demonstrating boosted by their fearless leader who has made peace with the fact that the effectiveness of his leadership is based on staying in the trenches with his people. The encouragement, consistency, and readiness to die with his people when world leaders have offered him a ride to safety, which he dismissed without hesitation. We know of many leaders who would have taken the lift out, but he remains the face and strength of his people. What a show of great confidence and a morale booster.

His choice to stay and suffer with his people and endure the same horror and fear that they feel and experience the same hardships as they are enduring is proving to be a leadership strategy that history will celebrate. His tireless plea to the world to help and provide more restrictive sanctions will be his biggest bargaining chip at the negotiation table with Russia. His leadership is what drives firefighters to climb burning buildings to rescue grandmothers instead of fleeing for cover.

His leadership is a demonstration to us that morale is directly related to leadership. His daily messages to his people have been key to strengthening their morale in the face of great terror. It gives them the courage to defy armed soldiers and to suffer hardship in their fight for freedom.

Great leaders promote good morale, unity, courage, and determination. Too often, leaders believe that they should have the best and most cushy seats, bigger pensions, and extravagant salaries while they lay off employees, signing bonuses and benefits that eclipse the wages of half their employee’s annual income.

History has depicted great leaders as those who believe their plight should be the same as their people. Ukraine’s President, Volodymyr Zelenskyy is demonstrating to all of us that there are still great leaders in this world. Leaders who will risk themselves to save their people and build a different and better future for those they lead.

Key Leadership Lessons to take away

  1. Stand with your people in good times and challenging times
  2. Support your people as they do the hard work necessary
  3. Lobby for the health and wellness of your people
  4. Send a consistent message
  5. Relate with and talk to your people often and with passion
  6. Authorize your people to make decisions where necessary
  7. Show empathy and compassion for what your people are going through
  8. Advocate for your people when needed

Several years ago, we started offering the Relational Leadership program at Interpersonal Wellness Services Inc. to help leaders develop the self-mastery to coach and lead better. I see everything we try to instill in our leaders in President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s leadership and I am even more inspired to help more leaders develop the courage to master themselves, so they can lead masterfully.

I am hopeful that what comes out of this unnecessary violent war being waged on the people of Ukraine will be a call for a higher level of self-mastery among leaders around the globe.

To Your Wellness,

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