As a team leader, how can you cultivate the energy around you to foster a space for engagement, inspiration and innovation in the face of defeat?
One simple strategy that often is overlooked is to celebrate losses – not only milestones and accomplishments. By acknowledging and authentically celebrating defeats you generate new energy that fuels a dynamic environment of team learning, personal courage, connection and growth. Celebrations foster team resilience by accomplishing three important steps to rebuild cohesion.
Diffuse the fear. Imagination, inspiration, vitality and innovation cannot flourish in an environment of tension and fear. Communicating how tough lessons reflect core values can get lost in the desire to forget and rush to move on. However, translating a loss into a meaningful lesson is the job of leaders. The act of recognizing, articulating and celebrating lessons of failures is an important rite of passage that helps a team move forward; this ritual cultivates resilience as the team learns and grows together. Some organizations go as far as celebrating mistakes in a big way in order to demonstrate – beyond a doubt – that the organization values creativity and innovation.
Name the elephant in the room. It is easy to get stuck in unprocessed emotion of frustration, worry and regret over a lost account or costly mistake. It takes courage to not only acknowledge but celebrate the lessons that were learned. Celebrations offer a space for team members to process as they listen and learn from their leader as well as each other. There is a liberating energy that is released by calling a spade a spade – especially if it is painful and embarrassing one. This step takes a leader who dares to be vulnerable and lead by example.
Rally the troops. Celebrations – large and small help to foster human connection; without human connection there is no engagement. By taking time to validate the agony while making sense of a loss, you create a larger context – a new space that opens up for the reemergence of intrinsic motivation. In this open space there is room for acknowledging disappointment as well as laugh at mistakes. In this space of authentic celebration, fresh insight will emerge. This fresh insight will not erase or ignore the tough lessons but frame them in a meaningful trajectory that affirms the larger mission.
Authentic celebrations lead to a shared “turning of the soil”– affirming a positive, resilient pattern which is a pattern you want to leverage. Give celebrating losses your due attention and it will pay off!