A Cup of Leadership CaffeineTake a few minutes to think about the best leaders that you’ve ever worked for.  What terms best describe them?

Chances are the word “consistent” didn’t show up in the top five.

Perhaps it should.

Consistency may just be the very unsexy and uninspiring element to your leadership style that will help you grow your credibility and allow you to create and sustain a working atmosphere that allows your team members to prosper.

It may also help you stand out with those charged with choosing you for success.

As leaders and professionals, we have a need to communicate and reinforce our brand and our professional value proposition every minute of every day. We are after all, constantly under observation.

In case you missed that memo, your every utterance and your every non-verbal cue is subject to ordinary and extraordinary scrutiny by those that work for you and with you.  Send out conflicting messages, act in a manner dissonant from what people expect, and you inadvertently start a game of “guess what the boss meant.” There are no winners in this game, except your competitors.

12 Leadership Activities Where Consistency is Priceless:

  1. Setting expectations.
  2. Making decisions.
  3. Communicating and reinforcing values and ethics.
  4. Reinforcing accountability.
  5. Responding to adversity.
  6. Engaging others in pursuit of solutions.
  7. Responding to the mistakes of others.
  8. Supporting the development of others.
  9. Encouraging learning.
  10. Treating others with respect.
  11. Providing feedback.
  12. Following up.

And in case you’re not yet convinced, consider…

6 Reasons Why Consistency is Critical to Your Success:

1. Your consistent behavior over time strengthens your professional brand and value proposition. Consistent behavior where it counts, like the 12 items above, provides tangible evidence that your “do” matches your “tell.”  Consistency becomes a key part of your authenticity, and this authenticity is visible to all.

2. Consistency removes useless “noise” from the working environment by minimizing the guessing games about your intentions or about your responses to possible situations.

3. Your consistent behavior helps minimize the gap between the type of leader you think you are and the type others perceive you as.  Most leaders struggle with a perception gap.  We see ourselves in our mind’s eye as one type of leader, and others perceive us through their own eyes as something potentially very different.  The action of striving to remain consistent in your behaviors helps minimize this awareness/perception gap.

4. Your consistency helps reduce fear and uncertainty in the workplace.  With a nod to Dr. Deming, one of your key tasks is to create a healthy working atmosphere, and the best way to do that is to eliminate fear. When people understand who you are and what you stand for and how you approach core issues, they are free to pursue their work without worry of surprises from the boss.

5. Used properly, consistency reinforces accountability. How you set expectations and respond to performance issues goes a long way towards setting the tone and tenor for the performance of the larger group.

6. Consistency creates confidence in those above you. Never forget that while we own our careers, others choose us to succeed.  Those in positions of power are looking to minimize risk and make choices that further their careers.  Your visible consistency in core areas and the resultant clear value proposition improves your odds of selection.

The Bottom-Line for Now:

Don’t confuse consistency with lack of creativity or some strange obsessive-compulsive leadership disorder. You need to be consistent and easy to read where it counts.  This doesn’t mean you can’t encourage creativity, experiment with the tools of management and leadership and push the envelope on risk in pursuit of even bigger rewards. It just means that you’ve decided that there are certain behaviors where consistency gains you a lot more than it costs you.