CONSISTENCY : THE WORLD'S MOST UNDERRATED CHARACTERISTIC
There are many words that you could use to describe Donald Trump, and some of them begin with C. However, there’s one C word that you could never use to describe the US President – consistent. His presidency is littered with examples of him changing his mind on policy and people. In fact, he’s so regularly inconsistent, that you could even call him consistently inconsistent.
This is important because consistency of character and behaviour is a pre-requisite for strong leadership. Inconsistent behaviour can bring a host of problems for any leader, and tends to result in either a scared, confused or, worse still, an apathetic team of followers.
Here are 5 key benefits that consistency can bring to your leadership style:
#1 – AUTHENTICITY
Authenticity has been a leadership buzz-word for the past 5 years, so I won’t dwell on it, but I will say this – it’s seriously important! Authenticity allows your team to see you as a person that they know and understand. Consistency delivers authenticity because people get to know who you really are – what your expectations are and what you demand from your team.
When you are inconsistent in your behaviour, people become confused and never know the real you. Only when you are genuinely consistent can you begin to show your authentic self.
#2 – TRUST
Consistency also breeds trust. Only when someone knows how you will act or react in any situation can they really trust you. If you are inconsistent then your team will have doubts over what they can come to you with. They will start to doubt how you will react to certain work or issues – essentially, they can’t trust you. This means that they won’t share as much and will by definition be more distant. This is something you need to avoid as a strong leader.
#3 – MAKES PEOPLE FEEL AT EASE
As with the trust point, consistent behaviour makes people feel at ease when they’re around you. There’s nothing like a volatile, unpredictable leader to make people feel uncomfortable and like they have to tread on egg-shells. Your role as a leader is to make your team feel as safe and comfortable as possible. Only when they feel this way will they begin to show their true-selves and own their role in their way.
#4 - CONNECTION
All the best leaders that I have met have all had personal connections with the members in their team. They know them as people, and this helps them to develop trust, loyalty and commitment. As pointed out in #3, inconsistency makes people feel uneasy, and when people feel uneasy around you it’s impossible to truly connect with them on a personal level. It’s crucial to develop personal relationships with your team members, and you can’t do this by being inconsistent.
#5 - CREDIBILITY
Inconsistency destroys your credibility. If you react one way to something on Monday, and the opposite way to the same thing on Wednesday then people will lose faith in your ability to lead. Consistency in your approach means that people understand your leadership style and you as a person – this adds to your credibility as a leader.
The real challenge that being consistent presents for leaders is that they rarely feel consistent. Everyone has good days and bad days and everyone has things happening at home. The best leaders are able to put these feelings to one side when at work, and can behave in a strong and consistent manner. This doesn’t mean you need to bottle up all of your feelings, it’s ok to be vulnerable. The crucial thing here is to be consistent with your expectations, your values and your behaviour.
The real dangers of inconsistent leadership are demonstrated by the US President. Trump’s White House has set records for staff turnover. 61% of Trump’s senior members have left their position since he took presidency. To put this in perspective, the next highest from the past 5 presidencies is Bill Clinton’s White House, that saw a 42% turnover. Inconsistency in leadership breeds inconsistency in organisation, and when this happens performance suffers. It breeds a culture of uncertainty and fear, and stifles teamwork.
The best leaders understand the danger of inconsistency, and they strive to bring the same values and expectations to work every single day. When leaders do this, they lay the foundation for top performance.