CONSISTENCY FOR THE EXPERIENCED LEADER
Many leaders would consider consistency to be a baseline requirement for a successful leader. Considering that most leaders have earned their leadership status from developing, maintaining and adjusting successful habits over time. However, this level of consistency 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 own consistency. In the article Self Awareness Part 1 – Overcoming Weaknesses, I mentioned that I pack an extra gym bag to ensure I reduce the number of excuses for missing the gym. This is just one example of how I’ve learned how to overcome some roadblocks in my personal life to remain consistent. Conversely, this can be a bit more challenging from a leadership perspective, especially when dealing with a diverse workforce.
LEADERS EARN OR LOSE AS A RESULT OF CONSISTENCY
Some of us have been unlucky and had to work for a leader that was consistently inconsistent. This leader is notorious for establishing a policy or procedure that is never adhered to. Often, it’s the little things like notoriously creating a meeting that he or she is consistently late for or misses altogether. Or announcing intentions to the group that never come to fruition. Every time a leader fails to follow through with a promise or a task subordinates loss a little more trust and eventually come to depend on that leader being 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 is a result of the leader being overtaxed or lacking the ability to prioritize. When leaders are spread too thin, their focus will shift to the critical tasks, which are usually those that directly respond to major due outs from the organization. Unfortunately, if leaders begin to lose the support of their subordinates 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 that is working together in support of the leader and the organization’s goals.
BE CONSISTENT WITH REWARDS AND PUNISHMENTS
We all recognize the benefits of building and leading diverse teams. As mentioned last month, the key to the successful leader is understanding how to influence and motivate a diverse team to work together 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 remaining consistent with awards and punishments across the team.
As a warrant officer, I am considered a technical leader, but I am often placed in positions to advise operational and strategic leaders based on my experience. In a previous organization, my boss requested my advice on writing a negative performance counseling for an employee who had failed to accomplish a time critical task. It was no doubt that the employee had failed to complete the work. However, the employee was just one among many who had been unable to accomplish a task. As a result, I explained to the leader, that her actions could be viewed as unfair because the same standard was not applied across the group. Also, I advised her to establish a standard set of rules, along with corresponding consequences for failing to meet these standards. This way everyone would be judged on a common standard.
MAINTAIN A CONSISTENT TEMPERAMENT
In the article, Self Awareness Part 2 – Emotional Intelligence, 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 diverse teams. In a previous organization, I had a leader whose disposition was extremely inconsistent. Members of the organization would call down to his secretary to get a read on his behavior before going into a meeting. His mood was often influenced by external factors 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.”
Consistent leaders will not only build trust with their teams but also set the standard to be an example for less experience leaders to follow.