In our typically hectic lives, consistency often seems like an admirable but unrealistic character trait. Sure, we grin at the endearing consistency of generations before us. My grandparents were of a generation that you could set your watch by! But in today’s world? Nah! Consistency simply isn’t realistic! Or is it?
Lately I’ve realized the unfortunate root of many challenges both inside my own organization and within companies I work with is the leaders’ lack of consistency. And the really unfortunate thing is that many times we act as if inconsistencies are completely okay, when really they’re not. When you peel back the layers, inconsistency means:
1. You’re too busy or disorganized. I think this is where we blow our inconsistencies off as no big deal. We attribute our flightiness to our lack of preparation or planning or priorities, or our too aggressive timelines or overflowing project lists. Yes, of course priorities shift, but if they do, we should have a plan on how we communicate and deal with the changes.
2. You are unpredictable with your priorities, philosophies, or standards. This is where I see inconsistencies a lot in organizations. One leader tells the employees one thing, another lead says something 180 degrees different. The leaders haven’t made the effort to align themselves with one another, and the result is confused, frustrated employees making very little progress toward the desired goal.
I’m not sure if I can rely on you. Eek! No one wants to be seen as unreliable, but the more our inconsistencies become a habit, the more our reliability comes into question. This can range from being hit-or-miss on our one-on-ones to making decisions according to our moods. Either way, our teammates and peers begin to question their ability to depend on us.
You can’t be trusted. Ouch. This one hurts, and in our organization trustworthiness is a core value. When we view our inconsistencies in light of whether or not we are trustworthy, we probably don’t like what we see. This doesn’t mean the breach of trust is intentional; but if you’ve been inconsistent in many areas over a long period of time, I no longer believe you’ll do what you say you will do, and we have a serious challenge to overcome.
The bright side of this disheartening reality is that we can learn to be consistent. A few years ago I blogged on four key areas where leaders should strive to be consistent. Check back on Monday when I’ll discuss further how we can do a better job at leading with consistency.