Oct 2, 2013 | Leadership, People

Today, Center for Executive Excellence has a milestone to celebrate.  We have expanded into Arizona and added a new team member.  Compared to other leadership consulting firms, we are still very small and there is much more to accomplish.

Yet, this expansion marks a major milestone for our company, one that took teamwork to accomplish.  Before we move onto what’s next, we will mark this achievement by recognizing the teamwork that led to what worked.

It’s easy to let milestones come and go without much fanfare. Sales goals are reached. Employees promoted. New products launched.  You get the idea.

Milestones are effectively points in time along your company’s timeline prior to a future event or goal. Rather than the goal itself, milestones are a subset of the goal. As such, milestones of any size can be created throughout the lifetime of your company as it progresses to your company’s ultimate goal.

But celebrating milestones means more than cutting cake in the lunch room.  To get the most benefit, take the time to deliberately pause, look back, and look ahead.  Follow these four steps to make the most out of your milestones:

1.  Stop and celebrate. Take the time to do this each time your team reaches an incremental milestone. Entrepreneur and philanthropist Naveen Jain advises that too many leaders focus on an eventual, possibly elusive goal rather than enjoying the journey.  Watch his Wall Street Journal interview here to learn more.

2.  Reflect on what went well. Encourage your team to talk about their success. Whatever you can reuse on the next leg of the journey.  Success builds momentum. In his book, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, John Maxwell suggests that, “Momentum is really a leader’s best friend.”  One success follows another and your team is motivated to achieve more.

3.  Acknowledge what could have been done better. No achievement is executed perfectly.  Encourage your team to review what could have been tightened in the last scrum and what changes can be made to improve the next one.  As the late, great basketball coach John Wooden said, “Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be.”

4.  Set goals for the next milestone. Zig Ziglar was fond of saying that if you aim at nothing you’ll hit it every time. People always need to know what’s next. It’s the challenge that keeps them from becoming complacent.  Communicate and execute.

When you take the time to celebrate milestones, you separate the mundane from the memorable. Without the ritual of the celebration, it’s hard to know how far you’ve come. Make rituals part of your leadership practice and mark a moment of success with your team.

Question:  For what events do you celebrate milestones? How could these celebrations enrich your corporate culture?

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