For Success, Morale is Everything

By | September 24, 2021

[September 24, 2021]  In the history of warfare, many examples show that a large, heavily armed military force was defeated by a small, under-resourced opponent.  The difference has always been the level of morale in the force that won on the battlefield.  The idea that morale is everything can be applied to all organizations and is why leaders focus so much of their efforts on keeping morale high.

“The morale is to the physical as 3 to 1.” – Napoléon Bonaparte

Through the ages, a basic rule of warfare has been that morale of the troops is a major factor in victory.  It is no surprise that militaries worldwide devote a considerable part of their efforts to boost morale at every opportunity. For example, the U.S. Army spends over $50 million each year on “positive psychology” efforts through a resilience program to increase morale.1  The effort is not working well, according to a recent report and senior leaders are concerned about the downward trend in troop morale.

“War is not only a matter of equipment, artillery, group troops or air force; it is largely a matter of spirit, or morale.” – Chiang Kai-shek

Napoleon Bonaparte, Chiang Kai-shek, and the many senior military leaders of our time have recognized the importance of morale in their fighting forces.  But, of course, morale of the worker is just as crucial in any business or organization.  Keeping worker morale up is done through many means, but one sure way is to project a positive future image.  To have high morale means that the wheels of an organization will keep turning smoothly.

There are many techniques to boost morale.  Good leadership is the starting point.  Effective communication, positive feedback and compassion, encouragement, incentives, and ensuring professional growth prospects are some of the classic methods that work.  Not just anybody can help boost morale because it requires effort, skill, and resources to make it work … and it takes a hard-nosed leader.

A grizzled old sergeant, who’d spent six tours of duty in Vietnam as an Infantryman, told me once that “the secret to kicking the enemy’s butt is esprit de corps in the ranks.”  Of course, he was telling me in his way that morale is more important than objectives, more critical than supplies, and is even more important than leaders.  As long as morale remains high, it is impossible to lose.

For success, morale is everything.

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  1. http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2015/04/16/army-survey-morale/24897455/
Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article every day on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

15 thoughts on “For Success, Morale is Everything

  1. Tony B. Custer

    Probably his most famous quote — “The morale is to the physical as 3 to 1.” – Napoléon Bonaparte

    Reply
  2. Frank Graham

    Positive employee morale leads to an increase in productivity and efficiency in the workplace. This should be obvious to anybody with a brain cell.

    Reply
    1. corralesdon

      Right and more often than not, poor leadership causes low employee morale. Those in leadership positions must understand how their behavior affects the team. If they don’t, morale will gravely suffer and if nothing gets addressed, morale will only plummet.

      Reply
      1. Idiot Savant

        Good to see you back on BC. I’m one of those non-USA types here too. I hear that there are some great things happening in the UK. Let us know sometime what is happening so we can get another perspective. Here is the US, we no longer trust the media. It takes someone outside looking in to give us a real idea of what’s really happening.

        Reply
    2. Guns are Us

      Yep, got that right. Hope everything is well with all here. Hey guys and gals, have any of you heard the status of Gen. Satterfield’s new book, “The Longest Year in Iraq?” I think that is what he wanted to put on the title. He made the announcement a couple of weeks ago.

      Reply
  3. Colleen Ramirez

    As long as morale remains high, it is impossible to lose. Well……. that is hard to argue with. Gen. Satterfield, I don’t know how you do it but you sure know how to keep my interest. Keep up the great works. Please consider writing another article on Joe Biden. We need to look at failure so we don’t repeat the same mistakes.

    Reply
    1. Greg Heyman

      Yes, good suggestion and I would also like to see a profile on UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Wow, is he British to the core or what? 😊

      Reply
  4. Jonnie the Bart

    Another article worthy of this leadership blog and one that I’ll be sending over to my friends at work. We are one of those small groups that talk about current events and I think this article will spark a few interesting discussions.

    Reply
  5. Army Captain

    I was thinking, as I read the title of today’s article this would be about the failure of the US and a coalition to defeat the Taliban and their ilk in Afghanistan. What a perfect opportunity to show what a bunch of ragtag 6th century illertate “soldiers” can do to a great nation (USA, and Russia) by keeping their morale high regardless of defeat. Of course this shows both tenacity and hanging in there for the long haul.

    Reply
    1. Gil Johnson

      Good point, Army Captain and yes you are soooo right. Of course, our politicians are only interested in the short term, screw the long term. When you don’t have a goal in mind, anything you do is okay in the moment. That is Joe Biden, oh, not really, just his handlers.

      Reply
      1. MrJohn22

        Well said, Army Cpt and Gil. Our political system today is on the wrong track and it will not be easy getting our locomotive engine back up and straight.

        Reply
      2. Greg NH

        Yes, I’m afraid you guys are spot on today. Gen. Satterfield surely knows how to hit upon a special target. Just like his recent article on leaving no man behind.

        Reply

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