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CEOs: Five Ways To Celebrate Success And Learn From Failures

Updated: Dec 11, 2023

Success & Failure Can Shape CEOs & Team For The Better

Top boutique executive search firm
Employees deserve some fun after a big win

It sounds great to celebrate success, and learn from failures, but let's be honest, when your stock plunges 50% due to a failed initiative or negative public opinion it does not feel good, not at all. And since we are being honest, not everyone can't be Alan Mullaly or Steve Jobs, two CEOs that are still celebrated for their tenacity, and vision. Even so celebrating success and learning from failures are an important part of organizational, and professional growth, and most importantly unavoidable.

Celebrating success has a quantifiable affect on your employees usually seen as inspiration, motivation, and a renewed sense of purpose. However, There is a delicate balance between celebrating successes, and mining productive lessons from failures that is of great importance, and challenging at times.

CEOs, and all Leaders have the opportunity to balance success and failure in a healthy, and proactive way with a few tweaks in mindset, and approach. Here are a couple of suggestions to get the ball rolling. Let's start from the beginning as a strong understanding of the "why" behind a new or upgraded direction will ensure a solid foundation to build from.

1. Recognizing the Importance of Celebrating Success and Learning from Failure

As a CEO, it's important to celebrate success and learn from failure. Successes should be recognized and celebrated to acknowledge the hard work and efforts put in by the team. On the other hand, failures should be analyzed and learned from to prevent making the same mistakes again.

1.1 The Benefits of Celebrating Success

Celebrating success helps create a positive work culture and boosts employee morale. It encourages employees to continue doing their best and reinforces a sense of accomplishment. It also promotes a sense of unity within the team as everyone shares in a common purpose that yielded great results.

1.2 The Importance of Learning from Failure

Learning from failure is equally important as celebrating success. It helps avoid repeating the same mistakes and finding better solutions to challenges. It also reinforces the message that it's okay to fail as long as lessons are learned from it. Leading by example in this regard can inspire employees to take risks and learn from their failures safely.

2. Set Clear Goals and Objectives for Success and Failure

Setting clear goals and objectives for success and failure is crucial for the long term success of the company.. You can't celebrate success, if no-one knows what it looks like. In the same regard, some failures are not as wrecking as others, and it is important to discern the differences.

2.1 Defining Success and Failure

Defining success and failure is the first step in setting clear goals and objectives. Success could be measured in terms of meeting targets, revenue growth, customer satisfaction, and employee retention. Failure, on the other hand, could be anything that goes against these metrics or issues that arise from poor decision making.

But of course, things are not as cut, and dry always, and it is important to consider the human factor in every decision. A more wholistic approach is to consider a qualitative result with each quantitative goal, and vice versa. This will paint a more complete picture of the situation, and learning from the predicament is more thorough, and profound.

2.2 Establishing Clear Goals and Objectives

Once success and failure are defined, clear goals and objectives should be established. These should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound (SMART). Setting these parameters helps ensure that goals are realistic and attainable, and that progress can be tracked. Representation is key for successful outcomes. By incorporating the feedback from the workers that will be accountable for the execution of the work, you can uncover the potential bottlenecks.

2.3 Aligning Goals and Objectives with Company Values and Culture

Goals and objectives should be aligned with the values and culture of the company. This helps create a sense of purpose and motivation for employees to work towards them. It also reinforces the importance of the company's culture in achieving success that is interdependent, and team oriented.

3. Empower Your Team

And speaking about teams, empowering your team can be accomplished in a plethora of ways, but leading by example is by far the most inspiring, and enduring .

Here are three things to keep in mind

3.1 I'm With The Band

As a Leader, your organization is looking to see how you react when things go wrong, and when they go right. Your teams will take their cues from how you interact with them under a variety of situations, and will often emulate your verbal, and physical responses. Your communications with stakeholders are the underpinnings of the company's culture. Empower your team by making sure your tone, and message are consistent internally, and across all external mediums, and platforms.

There is a lot of upside to being a Leader, and celebrating the wins are certainly the spoils of victory. When you as a CEO celebrate the coup d'etat with employees it humanizes the general perception of you to your workers. You are part of the team, one of us.. Establishing a common ground between employees, and leadership inspires loyalty, if the socializing efforts remain consistent. There are very few things that are as damaging as being seen as a disconnected Machiavellian CEO.

3.2 Do as I say, and do

Following through with promises, and full transparency when things change that will impact those promises is key. Warren Buffet is absolutely the best at this as his shareholder letters tell the truth and nothing but the truth in a simple vernacular that even an eight year old can understand.

Dr. Fred Kiel's book Return On Character explored the correlation between a CEOs integrity, and the company's return. CEOs with high integrity marks led companies with higher employee engagement, and higher corporate returns. Leading with integrity makes it easier for employees to stand with you during tough learning moments that come with the sometimes inevitable headwinds. It also makes celebrating the milestones that much sweeter.

3.3 How Do You Spell Relief?

I am an old commercial buff, and can watch the vintage all ad channels on Roku for hours on end. The other day, an old ad for Rollaid's came on with the catchphrase How do you spell relief. In the hustle, and grind to be number one, and or at least earn a healthy piece of the pie away from Elon, and Bezos, it's easy to forgo fun.

Whether unintentionally or not it does set a dangerous precedent and corporate tone for company employees. It is not enough to have wellness benefits, PTO, and the myriad of other benefits companies rightfully include for their workers, if the CEO rarely takes time off to refresh.

When the big boss is consistently burning the midnight oil so to speak, what many employees glean is that they should be doing the same. Celebrating success also means taking time out for yourself, and feeling good about it, and not waiting until you're burned out (a failure) to pay yourself with a nice retreat. When you take care of yourself, you are showing your employees that it's okay to schedule a wellness disconnect too.

4. Overcoming Obstacles & Challenges

It's part of the job! Don't anticipate doom, and gloom, but know that challenges are par for the course, and in some instances necessary. Here are two ways to make the setbacks work for you, and your team.

4.1 Talk About It

When you've had a setback or failure, success is the best revenge. Case in point is

Jeff Bezos, and the very forgettable zShop or the Amazon Fire Phone. To Mr. Bezos credit, he's not afraid to throw everything on the wall, and see what sticks. The important lesson is to talk about the failures, bottlenecks, and obstacles.

It's okay to not know it all as some of the most brilliant breakthroughs happen in the aftermath of failure. Talking through the disappointment, embarrassment, and

pain will allow you to leave the negative baggage behind of the unfortunate situation. As a team, we remember the importance of being professional, and respectful towards colleagues that are impacted by a failed launch or initiative.

Town-halls, meetings, and other group centric activities should be rid of ridicule, sarcasm, and general meanness. Open communication, and constructive feedback

create a collaborative environment where workers feel that their opinions count.

This type of support can make everyone feel like they can contribute to the company's future success.

4.2 Learn From It

Continuous learning and improvement are essential for success in today's fast-paced business world. The ability to adapt to change and learn new skills quickly can be the difference between thriving and struggling. Learning and improvement are also critical for overcoming failure and avoiding the same mistakes in the future.

As a CEO, it's essential to encourage your team to embrace learning and development. Whether it's through training programs or mentorship opportunities, providing your team with the resources they need to learn and grow is critical.

Strengthening areas that are weak are steps toward success, and in some cases might mean moving people to different teams, and hiring externally.

Analyzing what happened, and why is invaluable. It can be fun to point fingers at colleagues sometimes, but not very productive. Finesse and introspection is what's needed. First off, you have to identify the root cause - was it human error? Systemic dysfunction? Gremlins? Once you've pinpointed the problem you'll need to gather all relevant data and evidence (sorry, gut feelings don't count).

Then comes the hard part - admitting your own mistakes and taking responsibility for them. Yes, even if you weren't directly involved in said failure. And finally, implement changes to prevent future disasters, and consistently monitor progress. Treat failures as opportunities to learn, and grow. Transition from knowledge to wisdom by applying the learned information in practicum. Knowing is not enough, you must do..

5. Celebrate!

Companies celebrate their big successes with a bigger bonus or a year-end shin-dig,

Those are not bad, but we have far more interesting suggestions..

5.1 Rent Out An Amusement Park

Fun is the name of the game! Can you imagine renting out an entire amusement park for the day, and providing your team with unlimited access to all the rides and attractions? You can delight at Disney as they have opportunities for companies to treat their employees to a couple of hours of magic! There are several parks that make a day of fun possible. For certain, it will be one of the most memorable company outings ever. You might get some free press too, and what a boost to the company's overall image.

5.2 Treasure Hunt

If the mouse is not your thing then maybe searching for buried treasure is.

Hosting a company-wide treasure hunt, where employees solve clues and race towards the grand prize of a lavish holiday trip can really be fun, and healthy.

You can use throw away devices for onsite participation or a web app for remote employees. The most exciting hunts have several prizes along the way that pave the path to the grand prize. Besides the prizes, and general excitement, the theme of the Scavenger Hunt can inspire lots of creativity. Here are a list of providers to get you started, and a guide for DIYers.

5.3 A Charter Anyone?

The ultimate extravagance: chartering a private jet to whisk the entire staff away for a weekend of fun in an exotic location. A cruise to a scenic visage like Alaska or the Galapagos Island can have a similar effect too. While these may seem like over-the-top gestures, they're effective in creating team bonding experiences and fostering employee loyalty. After all, what better way to reward hard work and dedication than by letting loose and having a blast together?

What was the coolest outing you went on with your employer? We would love to hear it! Additional suggestions for cool outings? Feel free to share.


About Recruiting Awesome. We are a pithy group of headhunters that bring a highly personalized touch to executive search. We network with fresh engaged visionaries, and our engagements are never outsourced. You partner with one key contact for the entirety of your search. We welcome assisting you on your internal leadership opportunities. Do not hesitate in reaching out here. Some of the greatest breakthroughs happen in times like these. If your organization wants to hire results oriented compassionate leaders then our search firm is for you. If you are a leader passively entertaining new opportunities, feel free connect with us. We would love to hear from you.. Let's start this exciting journey together.


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