Consistency matters in leadership - but why? Here are some of the reasons I came up with when I thought about leaders I admire:
- When a leader is consistent in their approach you can understand where they are coming from and they are easier to predict and work with
- Consistency with brand, delivery and presence play a big part in building trust with clients and customers
- As I mentioned last week, consistency brings focus and action to your goals and seeing them through
- If a leader is not consistent in their approach then why should the team be?
Consistency matters particularly in meeting milestones and completing projects because the initial excitement and enthusiasm wanes as time goes on. What keeps you on course? - consistency; it allows you to keep the focus where it needs to be, for you and your team. I am not talking blindly refusing to change course if it's clear that would be beneficial but I am saying that when it comes to those smaller bumps then not to get distracted.
Success is neither magical nor mysterious. Success is the natural consequence of consistently applying basic fundamentals. - Jim Rohn
Inconsistency breeds fear
As a leader, it is doubly important that you maintain a consistent approach with your team. If you show up to work in different moods or with different behaviours and/or change your mind on what's important your team don't know where they stand. If you are inconsistent then people wait to act, often because they want to see what you are going to ask them to do first, rather than feeling comfortable in taking the initiative. This can cause delays, increased risk and costs.
By showing your most consistent side (even if you don't feel like it on the inside) then you will build trust and morale within your team. Your team and your customers want you to 'do as you say' so if you promise something, make sure you can deliver on it. If you have consistent service and delivery then you can focus on promoting a positive brand and image with your stakeholders.
How to be more consistent as a leader
The first step to being more consistent is to say that you are going to be more consistent. It is also worth understanding your core values (as well as your company values) so that you can come back to them when making any decisions. I would always recommend that you make your decisions in line with your values otherwise you might end up resentful, demotivated and yes, inconsistent.
Communicate and connect
Communicate your values and make sure everyone in your team knows what you and the company stand for. Make sure you demonstrate your values so that others can see them clearly, even if it feels uncomfortable to do so. The value in being consistent is that people know what to expect and so can act accordingly. For your team consistency matters because it enables them to feel empowered to act on a decision knowing what your reaction will be and to develop the behaviours and culture desired by the employer/team.
Finding your own style
Consistency in leadership doesn't mean you have to be the same as everyone else. Far from it. The key is to commit to your own style, management techniques, or leadership traits you have...and do them consistently (just to hammer that message home!!)
Make your team aware of your personal preferences and style so they know what to expect, let them know who you really are, including any negative traits - we all have them!
It's OK if it doesn't go to plan
Finally, be honest if you do end up being inconsistent. If a circumstance arises which makes you deviate from your normal course of action explain what's happened/is happening. You may need to communicate more in these situations so that your team can ask questions and you can retain trust. You may even ask them to challenge any inconsistency and to ask questions; this will eliminate any silent resentment and reduce any passive-aggressive behaviour within the team. Life and mistakes happen - it is how we deal with these circumstances that makes the difference.