Today's Challenge: Celebration

This is the next installment in the series in which I answer a question from a leader somewhere in the world. Today’s topic is not universal – by that I mean, some leaders I know don’t have an issue with this at all. However, many leaders, including myself, do struggle with celebrating the team’s accomplishments.

Before we jump in, I want to offer a defense for all of us who struggle with this issue. I don’t want to believe it’s because we’re no fun. I’d rather say…

  • We’re busy
  • We’re focused
  • We’re cost-conscious
  • We’ve understaffed
  • (Add you own reasons here ____________________)

Even with all this justification, I’ve come to believe the truth on this issue is…
If we don’t, from time to time, stop and celebrate with our team, we’ll miss a huge opportunity.
Here are a few reasons we need to devote time and energy to appropriate celebrations with our team.
Celebration builds community. For me, this reason alone is sufficient to carve out time for celebration. As you may know, I believe community is the turbo-charger for team performance. Community is about knowing, serving, loving, mourning AND celebrating together. Community improves team performance.
Celebration communicates appreciation. People, not machines, do most of the work we lead. Human beings love being appreciated. A thank you goes a long way. A celebration can serve as the opportunity to say “Thanks!”
Celebration recognizes desired behaviors and outcomes. What you celebrate matters. People are always looking to their leaders for clues regarding what we value. What we choose to celebrate communicates volumes to our teams. I believe it was Socrates who said, “What is celebrated in a land is cultivated there.”
Celebration provides a break in the grind. Work is never-ending. There is always another project and another deadline. Celebration can create a brief break that can have disproportionate restorative power.
So how do you make celebration the rule not the exception for your team?
Enlist help. The leader doesn’t have to plan and organize the celebration; you and I just have to be sure it happens. There are probably men and women on your team who are naturally gifted at celebration. Ask them for help.
Make the recognition appropriate for the accomplishment. If you finish a PowerPoint presentation, don’t send everyone on a cruise – you’ll not only confuse your people, you’ll go broke. Recently, we gave flowers to some women who reached a major goal in their plan and celebrated with them by serving the entire team designer cupcakes.
Don’t consider any major project finished until you’ve celebrated. I’m fortunate to have worked with several leaders on my team who are good at this. The last step in their project plans is always celebration.
Make it a strategic priority. If you and your team struggle with this, you always will until you invest time thinking about it, talking about it, and planning it. If you decide the discipline of celebration will make your team stronger - make it happen.
What can you and your team celebrate in the next 30 days?[GLS_Shield]


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