Personal consistency vs. leadership consistency
Many leaders would consider consistency to be a baseline requirement for a successful leader. Most leaders have earned their leadership status from developing, maintaining, and adjusting successful habits over time. However, this consistency level is usually personal consistency, i.e., leaders become more self-aware over time. As a result, leaders learn to avoid and overcome challenges that threaten their consistency. In a recent article, I mentioned that I pack an extra gym bag to reduce the number of excuses for missing the gym. This preparation is just one example of how I’ve learned how to overcome some roadblocks in my personal life to remain consistent.
Leadership consistency can be a bit more challenging, especially when dealing with a diverse workforce. Even experienced leaders who are consistent in their personal life may struggle to manage and lead an organization or team. So how can the experienced leader learn to be consistent when leading? Here are three tips guaranteed to increase your leadership consistency immediately.
Recognize that leaders earn or lose trust as a result of consistency
Some of us have been unlucky and had to work for a consistently inconsistent leader. This leader is notorious for establishing a policy or procedure that is never adhered to or maintained. Often, it’s the little things like notoriously creating a meeting that they are consistently late for or miss altogether. Or they announce their intentions to the group but the ideas never come to fruition. Every time a leader fails to follow through with a promise or a task, subordinates lose a little more trust and eventually depend on that leader consistently inconsistent. As leaders, follow-through within the organization is critical to leading diverse teams.
“Consistency is the true foundation of trust. Either keep your promises or do not make them.”Roy T. Bennett
So why would an experienced leader lack consistency, especially in areas such as meetings or deadlines? More often than not, this lack of consistency results from the leader being overtaxed or lacking the ability to prioritize. When leaders are spread too thin, their focus will shift to the critical tasks, usually those that directly respond to major due outs from the organization. Unfortunately, if leaders begin to lose their subordinates’ support by failing to follow through with their team, it will only become harder to accomplish the more significant tasks. Those larger tasks usually require input, innovation, and effectiveness of a group working together to support the leader and the organization’s goals.
Learn how to be consistent with rewards and punishments
We all recognize the benefits of building and leading diverse teams. The key to a successful leader is understanding how to influence and motivate a diverse team to meet organizational goals. However, experienced leaders acknowledge the challenges associated with driving and influencing diversity toward a common goal. One of the keys to overcoming this challenge is learning how to be consistent by remaining consistent with awards and punishments across the team.
As a warrant officer, I am a technical leader, but I am often placed in positions to advise operational and strategic leaders based on my experience. During a recent assignment, my boss requested my advice on writing a negative performance counseling for an employee who failed to accomplish a critical task. It was no doubt that the employee had been unable to complete the work. However, the employee was just one among many who had failed to accomplish a task.
As a result, I explained to the leader that employees may view her actions as unfair because she did apply the same standard throughout the organization. Also, I advised her to establish a standard set of rules and corresponding consequences for failing to meet these standards. This way, everyone would be judged on a common standard.
Learn how to be consistent by maintaining a consistent temperament
In my article, “4 Tips to Increase your Emotional Intelligence Skills”, we’ve discussed the importance of Emotional Intelligence or EQ and how a leader’s demeanor can play a significant role in leading a diverse team. Experienced leaders should be able to project stable and unwavering temperament when leading various teams. In a previous organization, I had a leader whose disposition was highly inconsistent. Members of the organization would call down to his secretary to assess his behavior before going into a meeting. External factors often influenced his mood, and as such, his demeanor would change based on whether things were going well or not.
“Leaders that can maintain a consistent demeanor inspire far more confidence in their teams than leaders who noticeably panic.”David Chou
The experienced leader can learn how to be consistent from understanding that trust is lost or gained based on the level of consistency. Consistent leaders will build trust with their teams and set the standard to be an example for less experienced leaders to follow. Consistent leaders must learn how to be consistent with rewards and punishments to help build better teams. Finally, a consistent temperament can go a long way in maintain relationships with peers, subordinates, and leaders alike.