Memorial Day is an important day for all Americans to remember and honor those who fought and died for our freedom. In cities and towns across the country a variety of traditions will celebrate and honor this fact.
As a resident of Indianapolis, home of the Indianapolis 500 I was struck yesterday by the number of traditions and rituals that are a part of the race festivities. A short (I know I am leaving out many, and perhaps your favorite) list includes:
- Driver introductions
- Honoring veterans
- Jim Nabors singing Back Home Again in Indiana
- “Ladies and Gentlemen, start your engines!”
To some these traditions mean nothing, to others, they mean everything.
The same is true within your organization.
As a leader we must recognize the traditions that have meaning and purpose, and honor them. And while innovative leadership requires that we always question the purpose to rituals to make sure they continue to make sense in the current climate, the importance of traditions cannot be overlooked.
Traditions that have shared meaning should be extended, revered and consciously continued. Traditions or rituals that have in their course, show their age, or are no longer in line with the organization’s goals and intentions should be carefully laid to rest.
Both of these actions require careful, thoughtful action and effective leadership skills.
Over the next few weeks make a list of the traditions that you can think of in your organization (this is a good task for new employees as they will often notice things you take for granted or don’t even notice.) Determine which serve the team well and see how you can further promote them. Think too of those that perhaps need to be retired and begin thinking about, and engaging others in determining how to make the retirement a positive one (hint – think about replacement, rather than removal).
These are important leadership activities, even if they are often overlooked.