A leader is someone who should be able to inspire confidence with everyone in the organization consistently. A leader who is a flash in the pan, occasionally doing something incredible, leaves their team uncertain, experiencing emotional whiplash. When a leader is consistent, he or she is are able to inspire trust.
It is frequently said that management is about persuading people to do things they do not want to do, while leadership is about inspiring people to do things they never thought they could. Inconsistency makes inspiration and motivation impossible. Being a consistent leader is important because when your team members know what to expect, they know how they need to work and behave to reach a positive outcome.
When we say “consistency,” it does not mean that all leaders act the same. It does mean that whatever style, management techniques, or leadership traits the leaders employs should be implemented consistently. A leader must be predictable, as consistency and predictability are positive traits that provide stability for the organization. Most work environments are very dynamic, involving a virtual whirlwind of change, and the leader must provide stability “anchors” wherever possible.
For example, inconsistent leaders sometimes require a lot of detail, and on other occasions require little detail. Sometimes they want you to seek their approval first, then later question why you brought the request to them. Sometimes they give permission to speak for the organization, sometimes they don’t. The bottom line is the people working for inconsistent leaders often spend unnecessary time wondering how to proceed, or they fight resentment because they cannot predict what the leader wants. This slows down speed, reduces effectiveness, and destroys motivation. When your emotions roller-coaster, your team becomes guarded and anxious. When a leader always changes his or her mind, your team members are frustrated at work that was useless. It affects performance and satisfaction.
How can you be a more consistent leader?
Monitor yourself. It’s important to be mindful of your own mindset and mood each day. Closely monitor your trigger points—what frustrates you, what makes you angry and what causes you to lose motivation. The better you become at sensing your moods and adjusting your behavior accordingly, the greater your chance of being a consistent leader.
You have to act consistently. If you don’t control yourself, you give a wrong impression. It looks like you don’t care. If a leader is inconsistent in behavior, staff members can begin to feel as if the leader is shaky and unreliable. Not knowing which version of your boss is going to show up at the office each day can be very discouraging. A leader needs to take a dependable approach into the office each day. Realize that you are always on stage. A consistent leader maintains the same demeanor whether things are going well or everything around them is crumbling. Leaders that can maintain a consistent demeanor inspire far more confidence in their teams than leaders who panic.
Focus on critical areas. Consistent leaders maintain focus on a few critical issues, as opposed to spreading themselves far too thin. Failing to remain consistent about the issues that truly matter to the long-term health of the company is a quick way to lose the team. An effective leader knows the big picture and commits to a wise course of action and sees it through to the end.
Communicate clear expectations. Clear expectations are essential if you are going to be a more consistent leader. Clearly setting expectations means that your team is fully informed of your requirements. This includes when things need to happen, what needs to be done. If you can be clear about the high-priority or non-negotiable aspects of the work, this will give them even more useful guidelines to follow. But don’t act as a micromanager. Control results but not the steps toward the results.
Explain your reasons. Explaining why you are making a particular decision is important. When you do need to change your mind, be sure to explain your reasons why. Simon Sinek reminds us that great leaders always “start with why.” Appropriate apologies, or acknowledgments that you might have caused frustration, can go a long way. If you have had to make difficult changes, this will make the changes be easier, and they will be less likely to think of you as unpredictable and indecisive.
Encourage open communication, and schedule regular check-ins. You need your team to communicate openly with you, telling you about challenges they are having, or ideas they have thought of. To help this happen, you need regular check-ins with your team while they are working, so there are set points where you can review progress. Keep a written record of agreements. If you plan or give a commitment, write it down. Your commitments are your word of honor. Keep your commitments—always—no matter to whom you gave it, and no matter how seemingly unimportant it may seem to you. You gave the commitment.
Plan dates for reviews well in advance. One problem is that often managers understand that regular review is important, but they do not classify it as a matter of urgency. Therefore it often falls by the wayside. You can change this by making important things urgent. Assign dates for these events months in advance.
Maintain the message. A consistent leader places the proper amount of emphasis on maintaining the same message over the course of time. They also teach their teams how to maintain a consistent presence with their customers/clients and give them the tools needed to boost credibility. Maintaining a consistent message boosts customer and community awareness of your business.
Celebrate success. If your team and you have achieved important goals, celebrate. The celebration of success will not only strengthen the team spirit, it will also mean that you and your employees connect positive experiences with the consistent checking of results. That helps to be more consistent.
There can be no consistent progress without consistent leadership. It is absolutely essential for the results that keep the organization going and serving.