The talkative walk – how leaders affect morale


Walking FeetI once had a colleague who had a very talkative walk. As he came up the road you could tell what kind of meeting it as going to be, and for the next three hours his mood would dominate.  His body language communicated everything  we needed to know – and we worked it out from his footsteps.

As the mood of the leader, so the mood of the team.
Christian leaders usually know our roles of teacher, leader, shepherd – we can do them, and articulate the need for them quite comfortably.
But how are we doing at the more subtle side of things?  Any team member can wreck morale during a meeting by a heavy sigh, or a well-timed objection. But the leader has the scary ability to wreck the morale of the entire meeting,and not just one item on the agenda.  And to wreck the morale of the entire team in the process.
I have a door in my mind, that I pass through each day on the day to meet my colleagues.  In my mind’s eye I have put a large yellow Post-It note on the door, with one word in big letters.
Biblically, I think it’s another aspect of ‘love for our neighbour’, in this case reflecting on the love we need to show those who work for us and look for our lead.
Check your emotional state, to make sure that stuff you are carrying from other parts of your day don’t carry over.  so what if the kids kicked up before school, or you and your wife disagree about how to deal with their school get over it  You owe it to the team to be on top of your role.
Check your spiritual state.  How much of your ‘hacked-offness’ is genuine disappointment, and how much is tetchy self indulgence? ‘In your anger, do not sin’, says Paul  Are you sinning?
Check your physical state.  Straight or slumped? Nimble or lumbering? Tired or sparky?  Remember: if you’re flat, you can flatten the team  So walk round the block to get a spring in your step first.
Prepare for the encounters.  who will you see? Are you ready for them?  Who might you bump into?  Are you able to stop and chat, or in a rush? And how will you remember what they said?

2 comments on “The talkative walk – how leaders affect morale”

  1. Very helpful Chris. On a personal note – I think this should start in our home’s as well. This is because in a small sense, I wonder if this is an example of household management of 1 Timothy 3 – both of the family household and of the household of God. So I want to be practicing this with my wife and kids as much as with any team I lead.

    I remember once starting a meeting with 12 others by yawning, mumbling my words, remarking that I thought this might be a “fun” meeting given my state. And then wondering why 2 hours later I felt de-moralised by the attitude of my team and looking back on it as truly awful meeting!

  2. Some extra ways I’ve found of destroying morale:
    Hiding behind a computer all day, never meeting the team face to face.
    Moving straight from a crunching business meeting to a pastoral counseling meeting without taking a moment to recompose.
    Shouting at a team mate in public.
    Criticising a female colleague thoughtlessly.
    Talking without listening.
    Allowing meetings to run way over time

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