CELEBRATE: Important Leadership Skill That Leads to Team’s Success

Quick question. On a scale of 1-5 (1 = never and 5 = always) how often do you celebrate your successes at work?

I believe that one of the most overlooked leadership skills is a leader’s ability to celebrate wins in the midst of the daily drive towards results.

If you are a leader of leaders, then it’s up to you to intentionally mark your team’s wins, even if you don’t necessarily feel the need to pause and celebrate your own accomplishments.

Imagine a large bucket with your team members’ names on it. You get to fill or drain your team’s emotional bucket based on how well you celebrate their successes. That is leadership skill 101!

WHAT Should I Celebrate?

It’s up to you what you celebrate in your daily interactions with your people. Your own natural filter and lens on life will guide you to celebrate small things or big wins only. Celebrating is simply acknowledging a significant event with a happy activity. Do it in a way that’s authentic to you, but keep in mind that celebrating and success go hand in hand. One breeds the other and research proves it.

For instance, in our Covid-19 pandemic world, that leadership skill of celebrating teams has become more important than ever. Our people are working from home. The high fives that would naturally happen in the hallways or by the water cooler, no longer take place. That’s a challenge.

WHY Should I Celebrate?

We know it intuitively and research proves it. We feel seen, heard, and appreciated when the people in our lives celebrate us and what we bring to them.

Can you think of a time when your colleague celebrated with you after your big sale or completing that daunting project ahead of time and under budget? I bet you can still remember how special she made you feel and fueled to do it all over again.

There is a reason for that. Dopamine and serotonin, the so called “happy chemicals,” get released into our blood stream during a meaningful celebration of our accomplishments. They make us feel more energized, confident, and even significant. They fill our emotional buckets .

Tom Rath’s uses a powerful metaphor of an invisible bucket and a dipper. The gist of it is this. Each of us has an invisible bucket that is either filled or emptied by others through their words and actions. When our bucket is full, we feel energized, hopeful, and great. When our bucket is empty, we feel drained, depleted, and sad.

Each of us has an invisible dipper as well. We use it to fill other people’s buckets or to dip from them, depending on how positive our interactions with them are. As we do it, we also fill or drain our own buckets in the process.

HOW Should I Celebrate?

Now we get to the practical aspect of this leadership skill 101. Most likely, you have a challenge on your hands. You are already busy, stretched, and often leading out of a not-so-full emotional bucket. You are not looking to add “must celebrate my team” to your already long to-do list.

My suggestion is that you celebrate your people by following 3 simple principles that will make it easier and more fun. Celebrate others in a way that is: meaningful, authentic, and timely.

  1. Meaningful celebration recognizes a person’s impact on others. I can still remember when a client sent me a quick email after he watched my TEDx talk. He wrote, “Joanna, your TEDx talk opened my eyes to a new way I can lead my team. Thank you!” I read his words before every talk I give because making a difference in others’ lives is a huge motivator for me.
  2. Authentic celebration makes a person feel seen, heard, and appreciated because it taps to the most authentic part of them, their natural talents, and strengths. Some of us love the limelight, so a public shout-out is just what fills our emotional bucket. Others of us cringe at the thought of that and would much rather get a handwritten note from our boss. Grow in this important leadership skill - ask each person on your team, “How do you best like being recognized and celebrated?” Then, remember their answer and celebrate them accordingly.
  3. Timely celebration is all about celebration in the moment. As a leader of leaders, coach yourself to celebrate your people as you spot their contributions. High performers move fast towards their next goal and once they do, celebrating past wins is not meaningful to them. Consider in the moment celebrations of your team as an important part of their success.

By the way, celebrating your people is the last, though certainly not the least, step in our High Performing Team Program.

Take the Challenge

Here is a challenge for you if you want to sharpen your leadership skill of celebrating your people and shifting your team from striving to successful.

Tonight, scour your office drawer or your kids’ toy box for a small item that you can dub your team’s performance indicator. Find that plastic superman or a T-Rex or a rocket ship! Pro tip: the sillier it is, the better.

Pass it around each week to the person whom you want to celebrate for their impact on your team’s goals. Celebrate!

If you’re looking for more ideas around getting the most out of your team, download a copy of the Executive Guide to Healthy Teams.

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