We are All Leaders

By Penny Macias | October 8, 2015

At the September MAAP Forum Cathy Criswell presented an overview of the results of the Employee Satisfaction Survey. If you missed the forum, keep an eye out on the intranet for a written report with details from the survey.

The results indicated, among other things, that a strong majority of employees are happy with their jobs, but feel that morale among co-workers is low. After the electronic survey was complete, focus groups delved deeper into the answers and a list of reasons for low morale was given, including insufficient pay and benefits.

It's great that the survey has been conducted and so many employees participated. What is even better is there is a team effort at different levels of the City to address the problems identified and improve. As a proponent of improvement, I am elated.

But at what point is morale a result of positive or negative aspects in the organization, and at what point is morale a culture we choose versus a culture that controls us? I'm sure there are a lot of theories and opinions about this and I certainly don't intend to appear to know definitively. However, it's important as an individual, a member of a small team, and a member of a large organization that we all realize just how many opportunities we have to be leaders.

We can lead ourselves through tough times at work by doing things like reaching out to mentors and people we know will cheer us on or offer us support to make it through the tough times.   Some days leading yourself might mean getting out of bed, drinking that cup of coffee and heading into a day at work though you'd rather be binge watching some shows. Other days, self-leadership might be looking for a new training to go to or making a personal challenge to improve your skills.

We can lead our small teams with the attitudes and work ethics that we bring to work. We can look at a situation through ever-skeptical lenses and share our skepticism with those around us.  Or, we can just make the best out of any situation. I'd bet that either approach won't control the outcome, so why not be positive and see what happens? At least you won't have been a part of negative thinking.

We can lead our organization by providing constructive feedback even when we know there's a chance our suggestions won't be adopted. We can encourage others to stay open and support them when they are ready to lead. We can lead external people to have a more positive image of the organization by following the "If I can't say something nice, I shouldn't say anything at all" mentality.

Leadership is a broad term and can mean different things in different contexts. Healthy teams, families, and organizations never look to one leader for all the answers, but instead share that role as is appropriate. Low morale is something each and every one of us can impact with leadership.