The supervisor's role in success
By Col. Patrick A. McClelland, 31st Fighter Wing vice commander
/ Published January 25, 2011
AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy -- An organization's culture is the combination of the tangible and intangible factors that determine the long term success of a unit. Examples of these factors include communication, respect, pride, performance and perhaps most importantly morale. Excellent morale can ensure unit cohesiveness and superior performance through the most difficult challenges. Poor morale, on the other hand, is likely to guarantee mediocre execution of the mission and perhaps even failure. Simply stated morale is the bond that keeps the foundation of a unit together; it is also the most obvious indicator of an organizations health.
Why is morale remarkably better in some units than others? Why can morale be remarkably low regardless of superb duty location? The answer is simple...supervisors. In organizations with exceptional morale you will find supervisors that have eagerly accepted their responsibilities and recognize their role in the health of the unit. In organizations with low morale you will find supervisors who are out for themselves, always pessimistic and continually negative. The responsibility for the health of the unit starts with the squadron commander and continues throughout the chain of command. The squadron commander will, consciously or subconsciously, establish the baseline by which the squadron health will exist. Once established, supervisors at every level will follow suit.
There are many ways that leaders and supervisors can make a difference and improve or sustain the moral of the unit, here are some examples (excerpts from an article on morale by S.T Love);
Understand the power of your influence: An arrogant rolling of the eyes, a careless word, or rude remark will send subordinates in the direction of apathy. Each contact you make with any member of the unit will directly add to or take away from the individual and collective morale of the organization.
Frequent and spontaneous praise will allow commanders and supervisor to harness the power of social influence. Done appropriately and sincerely, this power can shape the premise of what is accepted as strong performance; it will also serve to inspire peers to extend beyond their reach.
Supervisors maintaining an optimistic outlook is the thermostat of the unit's attitude and everyone will look to you. Face challenges head-on and stay positive, regardless of the situation.
Supervisor can make a huge difference in the culture of organizations. You can shape and mold through the power of influence. Ensure this influence is positive. Be a part of the solution, be optimistic, upbeat and praise the members of your unit publicly and often. If supervisors embrace this philosophy, then unit success and high morale is sure to endure.