Leadership and its Impact on Staff Morale

Leadership and its Impact on Staff Morale

by Jamar Wright – Mind Food International

[KINGSTON, Jamaica] – In the 1960, a professor of MIT Sloan School of Management by the name of  Douglas McGregor developed a rather interesting business management theory. This theory explained how managers’ believe what motivates their staff and how it will affect their leadership style or ability. The two contrasting theories were called Theory X and Theory Y.

Theory X managers assumed that workers are lazy, irresponsible, lack drive and ambition. In addition, they resist change and will do a poor job unless they are micromanaged.

While Theory Y managers believe that workers want to do a good job, they respond well to job descriptions. Plus, they love their jobs, and will get the job done if they are encouraged and supported.

Over a period of time these are the ones who become loyal to the organization. Both Theory X and Theory Y managers have a different outlook on employees and apply different leadership style base on the leadership lens in which they are looking through. The leadership lens that Theory X managers are looking through is a pessimistic view.

Sad to say, too often many leaders have this assumption of their employees. The leader who holds this pessimistic assumption, believe that his or her staff is only motivated by momentary reward; Therefore, he or she will lead by implicit threat, tight control and supervision in order to get the job done, since these workers are lazy and only here for the money.

Theory X Managers

In other words, Theory X managers lead with an authoritarian leadership style. There is little delegation of authority from the management. This kind of leadership style leads to little or no innovation as micromanagement squeeze the freedom and creativity out of employees. Theory X managers takes away the authority from employees to make decisions and instead of rewarding them they are punished. These kinds of behavior and treatment can lead to toxic organizational culture, high turnover and stagnation from little to no innovation. Employees are viewed in a negative light and not given the authority to exercise their judgement and creativity, this leads to low staff morale, and discouragement.

When there is a prolong atmosphere of discouragement is breads mediocrity, where workers just do the bear minimum just to avoid getting fired and enough to get paid. One aspect of leadership is to provide intrinsic value which includes motivation, encouragement and being recognized.

Encouragement is oxygen to the soul and can travel many miles in the soul of a person.  Like a flower that withers and dies because it lacks water, likewise employees with low morale and engagement. Their souls eventually wither and dies, from lack of motivation and encouragement. The perception and attitude of a leader does affect the moral of their staffs. A negative view of people will influence you to act in a negative way towards the individual which can be detrimental to their professional or personal development.

Theory Y Managers

Theory Y managers have an optimistic view of staff and as such they use a more decentralized leadership approach to lead their staff. This approach encourages collaboration and a trust based between management and staff. Theory Y manager gives greater authority and responsible to their staff leading to increased creativity and innovation. This type of leadership style empowers and motivates staff to make decision within the boundaries of their organization code of conduct and line of authority. Theory Y leaders usually create a flat organizational structure where they can get more staff member involves in decision making. This gives birth to many innovation and other sustainable advantages. There are many organizations that allow lower level staff, those who are on the ground to have direct connection with their customer to suggest ideas in improving their service or product.

How Can a leader motivate his or her staff

  • Recognition- Give credit to staff members who have being doing a great job. Especially those who give the company create ideas to be competitive. Commend and become your team member biggest cheer leaders.
  • Involve your team members in decision making- Having staff members involved in decision making can boost their moral and confidence. People love to know that their ideas and thoughts are being heard and appreciated by others.
  • Empowerment- Mentor and develop others, encourage them to develop their skill, some may require going back to school. Help financially if you can.
  • Love people. You can’t be a leader and not love people. Try to see from their perspective, put your feet in their shoe, try and understand what they are going through. As a leader have compassion for others. They are human first before they are staff and team member. Treat people with love and respect.

In Closing

Remember, the attitude of a leader and the lens he or she is looking through is going to impact staff morale.  One of the characteristics of true leaders is their humility. It is evident in their ability to take off their glasses and examine the lens objectively.


For Corporate Trainings, Leadership Events and Engagements, contact Mind Food International. Our goal is to “Develop Leaders to Transform the World Around Them”. Visit us at or email them at [email protected]


South Florida Caribbean News

The Team provides news and information for the Caribbean-American community in South Florida and beyond.

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