How a Secret Agent Can Help Build Morale

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As leaders, it is critical that we have an accurate read on the emotional condition of those we lead. So, let me ask you: “How good are you at reading the emotional temperature of your organization?”

Early on in my leadership I discovered that not only was I a very poor discerner of the moods among the staff, but indeed I failed to recognize that my very presence tended to “skew the data”.

When I walked into a room and cheerfully asked a group of people “Hey, how is everybody?” and they responded, “Just GREAT!” I was naive enough to believe them.

I didn’t have the leadership maturity to recognize that people will usually tell you what they think you want to hear.

And I would make my way to the next meeting convinced that everyone was happy, that everyone was working hard and that everyone was as sold-out to our vision as I was.

But one day a trusted member of my team came to me and said, “You know Scott, there’s some cranky people on the staff these days.”

I was stunned. How could these people who were giving me Cheshire Cat grins and exuberant “thumbs ups” possibly be cranky?

The reality was, and is, that it’s almost impossible for a leader to accurately gauge the emotional temperature of a team through casual conversation.

Sometimes it takes a secret agent.

My solution was to assign this trusted teammate with the task of letting me know where and when there was trouble brewing. I wasn’t looking for this person to eavesdrop on conversations or to go behind people’s backs; simply to let me know the real mood of the team.

My secret agent would keep an ear to the ground, discerning the general emotional temperature of the team. And when things were turning sour, this person would let me know.

The result was that I became much more accurately aware of the mood of the team while there was still time for me to respond.

Don’t miss this; it is critical that we have an accurate read on the emotional condition of those we lead. When we get this right we can see our teams accomplish great things.

How do you get an accurate “read” on the emotional temperature of your team?

the author

Scott Cochrane

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