Why it’s important to savour the wins

Simon Breakspear
14 May 2024


I was speaking with a school leader last week who’s in the ‘messy middle’ of some complex implementation work. We were reflecting on how it’s somehow May already, and a third of 2024 is behind us! I was reminding them of the importance of pausing to savour the small wins – not just for themselves, but for their teams. Here’s why celebrating progress is so crucial to team success.

The idea: Savour the small wins

30-Second Version

It can be all too easy for leaders to overlook building a regular ritual of savouring small wins with their teams. This seemingly simple practice can do wonders to reignite motivation and boost team morale.


The Full Read

As educational leaders, we do an exceptional job at helping students celebrate small wins, recognise their progress and build their motivation and sense of momentum. But it’s amazing how easy it is to overlook doing the same for the adults in the building! As dedicated leaders and teams, it’s easy to get to the end of a week or term, and focus only on what we didn’t achieve or the pile of things still yet to be done. 

Taking time to celebrate small wins during the ‘messy middle’ of a project or school year is essential for keeping motivation and morale high. Sometimes, it’s this kind of shot in the arm that is enough to remotivate someone to finish a challenging project when they’re stuck or drifting. By pausing to acknowledge and appreciate progress, you can uplift the team’s spirits and reignite their passion for the work. 

How to make it a ritual:

  • Pause – carve out space intentionally to focus on what we’ve done, not just what needs to be done next.
  • Identify – review and capture the wins big and small that have been achieved despite challenges and setbacks.
  • Bask in the glory! – create a moment to celebrate the progress so far and feel empowered for what’s next.

When I help team members to pause and reflect on recent achievements, we often hear, “I didn’t realise we’d done so much.” This highlights how we may not always recognise our own contributions and progress. As leaders, it’s crucial to create a regular rhythm of celebration to ensure that everyone feels valued and motivated to continue their efforts. Whether it’s at the monthly staff gathering, team meetings or in 1:1 catchups, the important thing is that it shows up as a regular team ritual. 

Challenge → Which small wins could you pause to celebrate with your team over the coming month? Where are there opportunities in your team’s schedule to set up a rhythm to remember to do this regularly? 

Want more? Here’s a great read on The Power of Small Wins via HBR.


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