The morale of your team, like your reputation, takes time to develop but can be lost quickly if you aren't careful to preserve it.

Here are four tips to keep your group's morale high--and team performance soaring:

1. Instill confidence in leadership.

It is difficult to keep morale up if your team doesn't have full confidence in its leadership. Trust, care, and understanding are the three legs that support that confidence, so always keep your word, show that you care about individuals and the group, and demonstrate that you understand the business and the issues the team faces.

2. Set realistic objectives.

You can't have high morale when the group views its objectives as unattainable. This doesn't mean objectives should be easy--aggressive goals can stretch performance and bond group members together in a common cause. But if you saddle the team with objectives they find unrealistic, morale will suffer.

3. Develop a winning attitude.

High-morale teams have a winning attitude. The competition will be won, the goal will be achieved, not just one time, but all the time. Cultivate this winning mindset by celebrating accomplishments--large and small, group and individual--and reinforcing members' confidence that they will win. Once your team has a winning mindset, they will reach their goals nine times out of ten.

4. Focus on teamwork.

Morale is highest in groups where each member views him- or herself as an integral part of a team, not as an individual who happens to be working alongside others: if one person wins, the team wins; if one person fails, the team fails. When people see that the team's success hinges on the performance of all its members, they stop competing with each other and start working together. Of course, entire books have been written about teamwork, but here are four universal rules for enhancing it.

If you use these four tips to increase your group's morale, your job will become significantly less stressful. And high morale makes for happy leaders.