Are we just marching or celebrating values, learning and progress on the journey?
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Are we just marching or celebrating values, learning and progress on the journey?

“People of Africa, we were created in the image of God, but men have made us think that we are chickens, and we still think we are; but we are eagles.” – Kwame Nkrumah.

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The month of March is for celebrating our independence and our journey as a nation. One of the activities during celebration in our dear country is the famous “March Past”. Almost every citizen, young or old, has had that experience. 

Recently, during ceremonies across the country, students and professionals marched in the scorching heat, and a few collapsed. 

What is the object of these ceremonies? Every great nation starts with a set of values. 

Leaders lose their way when they abandon the values they started with. 

Values is tool for creating value: 

Core values are a critical resource for accomplishing the mission of any enterprise. Leading with values elevates the value of every endeavour. To ignore the core values in the process is to ignore the tools that make the vision possible. 

Core values drive the effort and behaviour of every talent. Unfortunately, in some cases, the core values become words on the wall. You can testify that many organizations have abandoned their core values. Probably, your organization is one of them. 

Core values help teams to stay on the path and to course correct when they encounter challenges on the way. 

No organization can fulfil its potential if the teams that work in the organization abandon the values espoused as the basis for all effort and behaviour. If teams ignore or downplay honesty, excellence, and leadership – words identified as core values by organizations, then what meaningful gains can we make? 

Celebrate values: 

Leaders who lead long-term complex projects know the power of core values in inspiring action. They do not cease to talk about the core values. 

They embrace and model the core values and encourage other team members to do the same. 

This action is relevant for every leader in the nation because every challenge we face today is complex and cannot be solved if the men and women who give their energies to the task at hand do not lead with values. 

Leaders also need to call out the inappropriate values that may be driving the behaviour of individuals in teams and redirect them to their values. 

You must hold yourself accountable if you fail to uphold the values and dignity you possess. 

Nkrumah told us: “Man is regarded in Africa as primarily a spiritual being, a being endowed originally with a certain inward dignity, integrity, and value.

 
Celebrate lessons on the journey, and the missteps: 

Many professionals have fallen for the misconception that they learn from their experience. We only learn from experience when we take a strategic pause, reflect on the experiences that have shaped the journey, and meticulously harvest the insights that can guide the next stage of the journey. 

Leaders who lead at scale always look for these moments of reflection and learning. They undertake regular personal reflections and encourage their team members to do the same. 

They take time to carefully design meetings to emphasize learning from the recent experience and create the psychological safety needed to embrace learning. 

They share their lessons on the journey and the mistakes they made. Leaders who do this set in motion a practice of sharing learning. These moments provide valuable lessons and inspire teams to continue building despite the challenges.

Celebrating progress is much more than just marching around the country:

Resolving the complex challenges in our society is a marathon, not a sprint. There is heavy lifting before the needle moves tangibly.
 
If leaders fail to communicate and celebrate milestones, all efforts may be in vain. Other stakeholders involved in the process may begin to feel their effort is not worthwhile and not leading to meaningful results. 

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Such inactions can have disastrous consequences. We know that one of the reasons why many large-scale, complex change experiments fail is that leaders fail to acknowledge and celebrate the green shoots. 

Communicating and celebrating the progress on the journey enables the team fighting and working on these intractable challenges to look back and appreciate the shifts that have happened even though they are nowhere near the finish line. Celebrating progress gives them the needed impetus to continue the hard slog. 

 
Budget is never a constraint to meaningful celebrations:

I always endorse meaningful celebrations, not misuse of financial resources. Leaders must celebrate their values, the learning along the way and the progress made. These celebrations are a leadership effort. 

They are not about money, food, drinks, spending money to buy gold watches, or sharing gold medals. 

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Hence, any leader can organize these celebrations, regardless of their budget. Unfortunately, stakeholders question the value of celebrations because leaders sometimes waste scarce resources on frivolous activities.

I was excited to be part of the Enterprise Insurance Centennial Thanksgiving and Praise Celebration held last month. 

On such occasions, leaders need to go all out to communicate the lessons learned on the journey and design elaborate celebratory events that highlight the values of the community and the progress on the journey. And I applaud them for allowing all stakeholders to celebrate with them. 

I wish Enterprise Group another 100 years of success and leadership. Leaders can also celebrate progress during regular meetings in the office. 

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No matter the size of these events, they must be crafted to be meaningful and celebrate the values of the organization and the progress achieved. 

Above all, let us celebrate who we are – people created in the image of God. 

Be of good cheer.
  
The writer is a Leadership Development Facilitator, Executive Coach and Strategy Consultant, Founder of the CEO Accelerator Program, (https://ceoacceleratorprogram.org) and Chief Learning Strategist at TEMPLE Advisory (www.thelearningtemple.com).

The mission of The Leadership Project is to harvest highly effective leadership practices and share them in a manner that other leaders can easily incorporate into their leadership practice.

If you have an idea or leadership practice to share, kindly write to [email protected]. Until you read from us again, keep leading…..from leader to leader, one practice at a time.

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