One of the most important things a leader can do is lead by example. One of the most important and overlooked characteristics that a good leader exhibits is consistency or predictability. Whatever management or leadership training you take, whether it’s a management workshop, leadership webinar, or book on management or supervision, you need to recognize the importance of consistency and predictability in a leader and practice the steps to be as coherent as possible. .
Why? There are four main reasons. First, we live in unpredictable and uncertain times. When people go to work, they want as much certainty as they can get. Second, leaders must be disciplined and if you can’t control your own behavior and attitude, how can you expect the people who follow you to control theirs? Third, and the reason you’re likely to make a change if you’re currently inconsistent, being inconsistent wastes valuable employee time. They spend time worrying about where you are going to jump and this is the time when they could be doing their job. Fourth, if you model inconsistency and unpredictability, you will create a culture of inconsistency and unpredictability.
First, do any of you doubt that we live in uncertain times? A real estate bubble collapses, the stock market revolves, unemployment goes from 4% to a real 20% in many places, inflation occurs and the revolution shakes the countries of the Middle East. People worry about losing their job, having their hours reduced, or having their plant or office relocated. If we can make the work as consistent and predictable as possible, they appreciate it more.
Second, how many of you know someone whose moods and behavior vary depending on the fight they had with their husband or girlfriend, their blood sugar level, the demands placed on them at work, the phases of the moon, who knows what causes his madness? Do you like working with these people? Do you consider them management or leadership material? Is it a pleasure to be around them? Do you like having to check these people’s moods before you talk to them, ask them a question, assign them work, or, heaven forbid, if they’re your boss, ask them for the resources you need?
Third, think about how much time and money workers lose if their boss is inconsistent. How good or bad a person’s direct boss is constitutes a large part of his job happiness. If you have a great boss, he can make even the most disgusting job at least bearable. If you have a son of a bison as your direct boss, it can make the best job look like a prison sentence. If you have ten people working for you and they spend even five percent of their time managing your mood, then you have wasted the work of half a person every day. Do the math by multiplying ten people by 5 percent. That’s half a person. Chances are, they spend ten to twenty percent of their time worrying about what the crazy boss is doing and why. Then when you do the math, you’ll find that your staff of ten is really 8 or 9 people.
Fourth, if you model inconsistency and unpredictability, you will create a culture of inconsistency and unpredictability. Think about the behaviors you see in your organization now. Put them on a list. Do meetings start on time? Do people give each other away? If not, you will most likely model starting meetings on time. If people don’t tell each other, you are likely to discourage movement up the organization by people who tell each other.
So what can you do to be consistent? Here are your action items.
- Do all the things that will help you keep your balance. Eat well and regularly, get enough sleep, exercise regularly, do something fun, write in a journal. Don’t read blogs or watch TV it drives you crazy. If someone affects you, stay away from them until you know how to let go. You know what to do.
- Check your mood every morning when you get up and on your way to work. If everyone on the highway is trying to kill you and the lights take forever and everyone in the diner is in a terrible mood, it could be you. It’s okay, it’s you.
- Ask someone you trust to be your accountability partner for consistency.
- Study a bit of psychology, focusing especially on distorted thought patterns.
- Reap the ROI of creating a workplace where people worry less, are happier and more productive.
- Enjoy a better home life, because if your employees are freaking out over the fact that you’re an emotional yo-yo, chances are your family wants to medicate you too.