Last week my twin sister and I celebrated our joint birthday. We try to set aside special time together each August to honor our shared birthday and welcome a promising year ahead. It’s a ritual we have done for a long time and look forward to it each summer. For the first time, my twin asked me if we could write toasts for our birthday dinner. She felt that this year she really wanted to add this new custom to our celebration. At first, I thought toasting one another was totally unnecessary and would be odd at best. But it turned out to be extraordinary in both preparing and presenting. Not only did it give me an opportunity to reflect on her unique qualities, but also I loved her reaction as I shared it. I, in turn, so enjoyed her toast to me.
I began to think about how important it is to create a ritual to celebrate accomplishments as well as to express gratitude to the people in our professional lives. Leaders need to take the time to toast the exceptional members of their teams and communities they lead in and here’s why:
Toasting is a way to honor others: Leaders cannot accomplish great things without the help and support of others. When was the last time you soloed on a project, not interfacing with another person? Your response is probably similar to mine-NEVER! That’s because we learn so much from one another and often depend on each other when we collaborate. We are constantly piggy-backing on ideas that those around us share, which end up producing exceptional results. So taking the time to say how grateful we are is important for others to hear and humbling for us to remind ourselves.
Preparing the toast gives us great insights: When I was writing my twin sister’s toast, it enabled me to focus in on ways she is so important to me. The same goes for leaders- reflecting on the strengths and talents of team members and people we connect with, allows us to appreciate their contributions. When we take the time to think about how another has impacted an outcome or led a strategy, we can envision future ways to draw on their gifts. This could be the beginning of cultivating a future leader.
When others are toasted, they feel valued and empowered: It is fascinating to see how other people respond to being thanked and recognized for their work and support. When we feel we are a valuable part of a professional or personal community, we automatically want to reach higher and contribute more. We feel empowered to share our ideas and suggestions, not fearful that they will be shot down. We get excited and look forward to working on the next big thing because we have been given credit and encouragement. When leaders acknowledge an individual’s work as worthwhile, they are growing a future leader.
Giving a toast is fulfilling and gratifying: Looking at the smile on my sister’s face and watching her eyes light up was worth all the effort I put into writing my toast. The true gift of leadership is being able to give to others and watch them grow and blossom. Guiding our team members to take the next step is what leadership is all about. Helping others to build on their skills and accomplishments enables leaders to grow too.
So are you ready to show your appreciation and toast the people in your professional and personal life? Have you ever toasted your team? How did it feel and what reaction did you get?