Celebration – The Seventh C of Leadership

[As was discussed in a previous blog post, here at Inta-Great, we define leadership as “a service-oriented relationship by which change occurs as a leader influences others toward a common vision.”  In order to be effective at influencing others in the pursuit of that vision, we propose that leaders follow the Inta-Greated Leadership Model which consists of the “Seven Cs of Leadership:” (1) Composition; (2) Character; (3) Catalyst; (4) Compassion; (5) Communication; (6) Courage; and (7) Celebration.  Embodying the Seven Cs is what allows leaders to have an impact at the personal, team, and organizational levels and ultimately results in real transformation and sustainable results.]

Achieving the vision can be a long and challenging process.  Because of that, there exists the real danger of leaders and followers suffering from burnout and the temptation to quit.  In order to combat this, we present the seventh and final C – CelebrationLeaders practice celebration by showing gratitude and celebrating success in the pursuit of the vision. 

Good leaders are appreciative.  They understand that a positive word and a sincere “thank you” can help motivate others and create a positive work environment.  Known as “Encourage the Heart” by leadership experts Kouzes and Posner (2006), it involves expressing “pride in the achievements of the group, letting others know that their efforts are appreciated” (p. 7).  Why does being grateful and encouraging make such a difference?  It is quite simple really.  We all work harder and smarter for people we like, and we tend to like people who appreciate and encourage us.  Motivation expert Thomas (2009) puts it this way, “When you give team members recognition for the competence of their work…you are strengthening the message that good work is important, valued, and noticed…perhaps most important, you are validating and amplifying that team member’s sense of competence” (p. 173).

In addition to showing appreciation, Kouzes & Posner (2006) also emphasize the importance of celebrating short-term goals.  “Leaders also find ways to celebrate milestones” (p. 7).  Once again, Thomas (2009) agrees: “A celebration is a time to pause, recognize that a significant milestone has been reached, and savor that fact” (p. 185).  This type of celebrating is important because it is another way to rally people around the vision and cultivate enthusiasm for the completion of the vision.

Leadership expert, Kotter (1995), emphasizes that it is important to set short-term goals that support the vision and celebrate the achievement of those goals along the way.  To him, celebration consists of rewarding the people involved with achieving the goals.  More than just financial incentives, rewards can take the form of recognition, praise, fun events such as pizza and ice cream parties, and promotions.  Kanter (2005) also supports the celebration of short-term wins when she writes, “Remembering to recognize, reward, and celebrate accomplishments is the final critical leadership skill.  Organizations that desire initiative and innovation thrive on celebration” (p. 14).

And with that, we would like to congratulate you, the reader, for having read this far and investing the time and energy into learning about the Seven Cs of Leadership.  We also pause now to take a brief moment to savor the feeling of having completed a thorough presentation of each of the Seven Cs – with a particular focus on exploring how each of those Cs connects to serving and transformational leadership principles.  But alas, one cannot stop here.  Theory is only as useful as its application, and so, we encourage you to consider how you can implement the principles of the Seven Cs while moving forward on your leadership journey.  As always, we wish you the best of luck, and would be honored to serve you in any way we can.

(Please visit www.inta-great.com for information on our leadership offerings such as The Inta-Greated Leadership Institute (I-Lead) or WILLOW, Women In Leadership Leading Other Women.)

Referenced Works:

  • Kanter, R. M. (2005). Leadership for change: Enduring skills for change masters.  Teaching Note, Harvard Business School Publishing, 1-15.
  • Kotter, J.P. (1995). Leading change: Why transformational efforts fail. Harvard Business Review, 73(2), 1-9.
  • Kouzes, J. & Posner, B. (2003). Student leadership practices inventory.  San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.
  • Thomas, K.W. (2009).  Intrinsic motivation at work: What really drives employee engagement. San Francisco: Barrett-Koehler.

Thanksgiving Leadership Lessons

Thanksgiving has come and gone, and we at Inta-Great hope you had a wonderful holiday filled with family, friends, and maybe even some time to relax and rejuvenate.

We also hope you had some time over the holiday vacation to reflect on what and who you are thankful for—in both your personal and work life.  So here’s our question, did you let anyone know what you are thankful for?  Did you let anyone know you are thankful for him/her?

Thanksgiving serves as a good reminder about how important it is to express gratitude.  Good leaders are appreciative.  They understand that an encouraging word and a sincere “thank you” can help motivate others and create a positive work environment.  After thirty years of research,leadership experts Kouzes and Posner concluded in their latest book, The Truth About Leadership, that:

“the highest performing managers and leaders are the most open and caring…They are more positive and passionate, more loving and compassionate, and more grateful and encouraging than their lower performing counterparts.” 

Why does being grateful and encouraging make such a difference?  It’s quite simple really.  We all work harder and smarter for people we like, and we tend to like people who appreciate and encourage us.  This is often clear in our personal lives.  Most of us would not settle for a spouse or significant other who did not appreciate our efforts or encourage our personal development—and the data shows us that most of us will not settle for a boss who does not appreciate our efforts or encourage our personal development either.  A Gallup poll of more one million employed U.S. workers concluded that the number one reason people quit their jobs is a bad boss or immediate supervisor.  And, a separate study by Florida State University found one of the main reasons someone is labeled as a “bad boss” is for “failing to give credit where credit is due.”

Not only do people work harder for bosses they like, they are also more willing to take smart risks.  Recently, we wrote an article about the importance of courage and risk-taking when it comes to leadership.  As a leader and manager, you should strive to cultivate leaders at all levels of your organization, and this means giving employees the freedom to take risks.  Innovation will not take place if your employees are afraid to leave their comfort zone.  Knowing they work for a positive and encouraging boss makes employees feel safe enough to be courageous and innovative.

That is why it so important for leaders to not only be appreciative, but to express their gratitude as well.  Don’t let this overwhelm you.  Expressing gratitude doesn’t mean you have to develop a new, complex HR policy about employee recognition, it just means you have to say “Thank you.  Kouzes and Posner put it this way, “recognitions don’t need to come in the form of elaborate events or expensive awards.  In fact, the more personal they are, the more impact they can have.”

So, if you haven’t already, take a moment and reflect on who and what you are thankful for this year.  Maybe you’re thankful for the many ways your spouse has supported you this year.  Maybe you’re thankful for how your employee managed that high profile project.  Maybe you’re thankful for the dedication and loyalty someone has shown to the organization.  Perhaps you’re thankful for someone’s positive attitude and enthusiasm   Maybe it’s even something “little” like everyone pitching in to keep the office kitchen clean.

Then, once you’ve identified who and what you’re thankful for, let them know it.  Send them an email.  Add a personalized thank you note to those Christmas/Holiday cards you hand out every year.  Or better yet, tell them in person.  For many leaders, end-of-year or mid-year employee performance reviews are coming up—those are great opportunities to let your employees know you appreciate them.  In the end, we promise you’ll be thankful that you did. 

Referenced Works:

  • Kouzes, J.M. and B. Z. Posner. (2010). The truth about leadership: The no-fads, heart-of-the-matter facts you need to know. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.