“It is the mission! The mission! The mission. . . our purpose—the reason we exist!” a quote from an unknown source.
Here is an example of how a leader prioritized mission over morale.
An employee said to his manager, “I need to take Thursday and Friday off. My parents are passing through on their way to Colorado. They want to spend a couple of days with us.”
“I can’t let you off this week. I need your cost estimates by Friday.”
“I’ve got most of the work done. Someone else can complete it.”
“I don’t have anyone else. You’ll have to work Thursday and Friday.”
Two-thirds of supervisors in my workshops place morale as a higher priority than mission. Morale is important. I agree. But more often it is prudent to prioritize mission over morale.
By denying the employee’s request, the leader prioritized the mission. The employee fumed and complained bitterly to his peers, but he did stay and complete his project.
To avoid permanent morale loss, the leader will need to find some way in the coming weeks to reward the employee for his sacrifice. While leaders can survive short-term morale dips, few survive long-term morale adversity.