Celebration: the not-so-secret ingredient of authentic leaders
I recently read a Harvard Business Review article called Celebrate to win by Whitney Johnson, CEO of Disruption Advisors, and it reminded me just how important celebrations can be. In the article, she talks about how celebrations—even small ones—can help a team or organization reflect on and build upon its successes and it reminded me how authentic leaders need to remember to use this sometimes-forgotten tactic to keep their team engaged.
Although it may sound cliché, as authentic leaders, we need to remember to pause and celebrate each win, especially now, in a time where we may not see each other face-to-face as often. In the article, Johnson says, “Celebration is an important opportunity to cement the lessons learned on the path to achievement,” and I couldn’t agree more. Here are a few other elements she shared that I think are relevant for people who want to embrace the idea of authentic leadership:
Celebrate early and small
Formation of a habit, Johnson says, is more than just 21 days of consistently doing something. We also need the dopamine release that happens in the brain when we celebrate to help reinforce the learning experience. She also shares the simple but powerful example of cancer patients ringing a bell after completing a course of treatment. It’s not an elaborate celebration—but is certainly significant.
Celebrate in the interim
There’s no reason to wait until the end of a project (or a quarter, or a year) for a celebration. Celebrate along the way! Johnson uses the example of birthdays—we don’t just celebrate our first birthday and our last, but every birthday in between. Don’t miss a chance to celebrate meaningful accomplishments with your team, even if they aren’t a true milestone.
Celebrate the day
Johnson sees every day is an opportunity to celebrate. She suggests taking a few moments at the beginning of the day to reflect and prepare for the things you want to achieve. Then remember to celebrate them once you do. This works at the individual level and in teams, with huddles or daily stand-ups.
Finally, Johnson reminds us that celebration is an event, not a destination. Like the journey of life, it’s not about making it to the end, but the celebrations, both big and small, that happen along the way.
In fact, we took some time recently to celebrate the success of associates on my team by creating our own P&C Choice Awards show to wrap up the year. It was a lighthearted, yet genuine way to reflect on our collective success and hand out some well-deserved recognition.
Authentic leaders use the not-so-secret ingredient of celebration to help their teams, learn, grow and win.