Have you ever been guilty of a “premature celebration”?
If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, take a 3:42 break in your day and watch this hilarious compilation of ESPN’s Top 10 Premature Celebrations.
Even if you’re not a sports fan you’re going to have a great laugh at some of these episodes of athletes wildly celebrating a goal, touchdown or some other accomplishment, only to find out that they hadn’t actually succeeded.
When this sort of thing happens with an athlete, it might mean that they show up on a highlight blooper reel.
But when it happens to a leader, it can result in a severe credibility hit.
Think of the business leader who boldly announces that the failing company has “turned around” because of a single profitable quarter. And think of the egg on their face when what follows is a return to declining sales.
Think of the salesperson who informs their manager that they have landed the big account even before the contract has been signed. And think of the back-peddling required when the deal falls through.
Think of the pastor of the plateaued church who informs his board that last weekend’s attendance increase means “we’ve turned the corner”, only to see the numbers continue to slip the rest of the year.
Effective leaders I’ve known have managed to avoid the credibility hit of a premature celebration by following a few simple guidelines:
- Don’t get caught up in the emotion of an early win.
Seeing what appears to be a significant success can cause a wave of emotion to sweep over you and your organization. Wait for this to pass before declaring success.
- Know the rhythms of your business.
Maybe this “win” was really just a normal blip in your industry. There’s nothing worse than high-fiving everyone over an apparent victory, when everyone else knows this was just a normal trend.
- Let others point out your successes before you do.
After an apparent win, let other voices chime in first, especially those who carry heavy influence.
Avoiding the credibility hit of a premature celebration requires a tremendous amount of discipline. And I’ll admit it’s an area I need to monitor in my own leadership very closely.
But getting this one right is always worth it.
It sure beats showing up on a blooper reel.