Tiny Triumphs: how small wins fuel growth for leaders | Brighten Project Leadership Development

Tiny Triumphs, Major Milestones

thought leadership Jul 17, 2023


The Incremental Impact: How Small Wins Fuel Leadership Growth

In our exploration of leadership growth, we've journeyed through the "Cycle of Stuck" and the "Cycle of Success". One of the key distinctions between these cycles often lies in recognising and celebrating our small, incremental victories, our "small wins". But what exactly is a small win, and why are they so pivotal in leadership growth?


Distinguishing Quick Fixes from Small Growth Wins

In the flurry of the day-to-day, leaders can often fall into the trap of quick fixes - short-term solutions that offer temporary relief, but don't address the root causes of a problem. These quick fixes can provide a momentary sense of accomplishment but often lead back into the cycle of stuck, perpetuating a cycle of reactive leadership. Reactive is NOT what we want. Reactive leadership is when you're only reacting to what's happening around you, there's no proactive self management, planning or growing. You constantly feel like you're just treading water and sometimes it feels like your falling behind. 

On the other hand, small growth wins, although they may seem minor, contribute to long-term development and success. They are tangible evidence of our growth, incremental improvements in our leadership capacity. They might be as simple as handling a difficult conversation well, effectively delegating a task, or setting a boundary to protect your time. These are little love notes to yourself, a pat on the back for putting in effort and reaping the rewards.


The Power of Small Wins in the Cycle of Success

Small wins have a significant impact on motivation and confidence. A study by Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer, authors of "The Progress Principle," found that the act of recording and recognising small wins boosted motivation significantly among professionals, resulting in increased creativity and productivity.

These small victories create a positive feedback loop in our brains, releasing dopamine, the neurotransmitter associated with feelings of accomplishment and satisfaction. This feedback loop encourages us to continue taking actions that lead to more small wins, propelling us through the cycle of success.


The Detriment of Ignoring Small Wins in the Cycle of Stuck

Conversely, when we ignore or downplay our small wins, we can inadvertently feed into the cycle of stuck. We easily become overwhelmed by the magnitude of the journey and lose sight of our growth. This aligns with the "goal-gradient hypothesis", which suggests that motivation increases as we perceive ourselves getting closer to our goals. If we don't recognise and celebrate our small wins, we might feel perpetually far from our goals, leading to demotivation and stagnation. If we DO acknowledge our small wins it fuels our motivation.

Here's some other examples of small wins creating the step change for you towards your goals.

๐ŸŽฏ Goal: To lead a team to successfully complete a major project.

  • Small Win: Clear and effective communication of the project vision and goals to the team.
  • Small Win: Meeting each project deadline and seeing quality results.
  • Small Win: Overcoming a challenging project hurdle through effective problem-solving and teamwork.
  • Small Win: Receiving appreciation and recognition for the team's progress and effort.


๐ŸŽฏ Goal: To implement a significant positive change within your organisation.

  • Small Win: Successfully proposing the change to senior leadership and getting their approval.
  • Small Win: Implementing the first stage of the change and seeing early positive results.
  • Small Win: Receiving supportive feedback from colleagues about the change.
  • Small Win: Seeing the final change in place and witnessing its positive impact on the organisation.


Why do we care?

In the quest for meaningful leadership growth that is actually going to change and impact your career and life - don't overlook the power of small wins. They are the stepping stones on the path to success, each one a validation of your effort, growth, and resilience.


Let's think about this...

As always, I want you to grab 5 minutes and reflect on this, specifically for your own leadership growth journey.

๐Ÿ† How have you been acknowledging your small wins in your leadership journey?
๐Ÿง  How do small victories make you feel and what impact do they have on your motivation?
๐Ÿ“ˆ Do you think you could improve in celebrating your small wins? How would you do it?
๐Ÿ”— Can you see the correlation between the Goal-gradient Hypothesis and the Upward Spiral of Learning?


Join us in the Epic Leadership Accelerator to further understand and capitalise on the power of small wins in your leadership journey. Take the opportunity to transform your leadership style from reactive to proactive, moving from the cycle of stuck to the cycle of success. The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step - or in our case, a single small win.

Pick Your Win:

๐Ÿ‘‰ Sign Up For The Free 3 Day Leadership Challenge: Create Your Leadership Growth Plan [LINK]

๐Ÿ‘‰ Learn More about the July Intake for the Epic Leadership Accelerator Program [LINK]

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