It’s a catchy sentiment, and a nice way to wrap up the Power of Celebration sessions shared with over 100 Charis partners from all over the world. But like many motivational quotes, it needs a little more context and nuance to be practical in the raw realities of day to day charity leadership.
By Chris Wignall
The heart of the Power of Celebration is that it is a skill worth developing. Leaders who are intentional about incorporating meaningful celebration into their organizations on an increasing and ongoing basis achieve greater results, see higher loyalty from staff, volunteers, and donors, and have more fun. But it’s not quite that simple.
Celebration can be done poorly, for the wrong reasons, or in ways that undermine their best intentions.
The real goal is for Celebration to be part of being a Healthy Organization. It reinforces and motivates the behaviours and practices that drive impactful results. Done well, Celebration leverages and multiplies clear Strategy, effective Execution, and engaging Culture. It’s not really about cupcakes on someone’s birthday or logo emblazoned t-shirts.
My book The REACTION Dashboard (www.REACTIONDashboard.com) offers a practical tool to help leaders understand, assess, and improve organizational Culture.
In leadership programs, executive coaching, and workshops, I have the privilege of encouraging charity leaders and leadership teams to find greater clarity and confidence.
Healthy Leaders and Healthy Organizations aren’t all about Celebration. They are committed to their cause, intentional in their efforts, and place a high value on the way they treat one another. Cupcakes may or may not be part of it.
Charity leadership is difficult. The issues we seek to address are often complex and progress is not guaranteed. Losses happen along the way; sometimes more frequently than wins. Denying reality, with all the challenges and struggle, isn’t healthy. Lament has an important place alongside, and perhaps even amidst, Celebration.
As leaders we tend to live in the future. We are drawn to making a difference. We cast vision, motivate others, plan programs, forecast budgets, and make difficult decisions with tomorrow (or ten years from now) in mind. Many of us are excellent at solving problems quickly, preventing them from undermining the good work.
But to be Healthy Leaders and have Healthy Organizations we need to also be in the moment. We need to interrupt our future focus and step into the here and now, and stay long enough to understand what is currently true, and to connect with our people who are more likely than we may be to need the encouragement and alignment that comes from celebrating any evidence of impact we can recognize.
Every leader I know could use a little encouragement. I know that the people at Charis are committed to providing you with that kind of support. Developing the skill of Celebration is one sure way of bringing more encouragement to your team, and yourself.
On April 13, 2023, The Charis Foundation invited Chris Wignall to run a webinar for our partners on the power of celebration. If you’re interested in diving deeper into the topic, or having Chris host a webinar for your organization, you can contact him at email@example.com. You can also subscribe to the monthly Catalyst Content Newsletter for further insights and opportunities for charity leaders.