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Sick of Being a “Yes-But” Leader

I immediately thought of something that didn’t go perfectly, when a leader on my team joyfully said, “Today was as good as it gets.” He was thinking operationally.

While he talked, I thought of things that could have been better.

Five reasons you don’t celebrate success:

  1. Fear of complacency. Others grow complacent when leaders celebrate too freely. Right?
  2. High standards. There’s always room for improvement.
  3. Competition. You’re always pushing yourself.
  4. It’s all about the next step not the last step.
  5. Bad overshadows good. You notice what’s wrong before what’s good.

There’s always a, “Yes – But” in the back of my mind.

Yes-But Leaders:

  1. “Yes, things went great. But, did you notice (insert something that wasn’t perfect here).”
  2. “Yes, you did a great job. But, you could have been better when you ….”
  3. “Yes, things went well. But, think we were lucky.”

Four ways to celebrate like a real leader:

#1. Successful leaders love specificities:

  1. What went great, exactly?
  2. What were you doing when you did a great job?
  3. What do you enjoy most about the results you achieved?

#2. Don’t add your ounce of bad to their gallon of good.

  1. Separate celebrations from conversations about improvement. Have an occasional celebration lunch. No improvements allowed.
  2. Allow success to stand on its own. Be happy when others are happy. Don’t allow a negative word to escape your lips.
  3. Say thank you when you receive compliments.

#3. Go on gratitude walks. No corrections or improvements allowed. Just give specific thanks to everyone. If you can’t find a point of gratitude for everyone on your team, you’re failing your team.

#4. Hold monthly, “Make it Better” meetings.

  1. Create a structured outlet for improvements so you can celebrate freely at other times.
  2. Avoid saying, “What’s wrong?” Start saying, “What could be better?”
  3. Create champions of “better”. Who owns this improvement?

What prevents leaders from celebrating freely?

How might leaders create patterns or systems that free them to celebrate?

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