It’s amazing to me how timeless the basic principles of leadership are.  I recently fell upon a 1959 edition of “Principles and Problems of Naval Leadership.”  Although written by the Bureau of Naval Personnel for Navy people, the core of the book is applicable to everyone and the principles remain as true today as they did 56 years ago.

In thumbing through the book, this principle (in particular) resonated as one that today’s leaders could easily implement for big return:

“THE PRINCIPLE OF THOUGHTFUL CONCERN:  Morale depends on the interest and concern of Officers and Petty Officers for their men.  Interest and concern, in turn, must be expressed in tangible ways.  Good morale is NOT AN ACCIDENT; It is the result of thoughtful concern at all levels of authority.”

What is the “big return” for us, as leaders, when our teams have good morale?  Studies show that, at a minimum, you’ll get higher productivity, creativity and better retention rates (to name just a few).  On a personal level, I’ve found that I gain team mates that will stay with me until the end.

To me, this principle is fairly easy to implement and can be done with three simple actions.

1.  Listen:  Carve out time each day to get to know your people.  Walk around, talk, and listen to what they have to say (not only about work but about what’s going on in their lives as well).

2.  Make their concerns YOUR concerns:  If an issue is important to an individual or to the whole team, it should be important to you.

3.  Act on their behalf:  When in your power, do something!  If not in your power to act, take action to get it to the person who can.  If nothing can be done, communicate the “why” back to the team.

In looking back over my own work life, I know that those who have garnered my loyalty and dedication are those who took the time to show thoughtful concern.  They knew me, what was going on with me, and made my concerns their own.  That’s when my morale was the highest and my want to work the best.  I’ve found the same true with those I’ve led and I’m sure you have too.

Don’t just think about doing something, do it.  Look for a tangible way to express your concern and show it.  Good morale IS NOT an accident!

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