One of the keys to good leadership is to be consistent:
- Consistent focus on the few critical issues.
- Consistent mood, behavior, and decision-making so that your team knows where you are coming from.
- Consistent delivery, brand image and presence with the customer.
As George Bradt, a consultant in leadership on-boarding, has said:
Consistency is a trust builder. Inconsistency is jarring.
1. Consistent focus on the few critical issues
As a leader you want to communicate a consistent focus on just a few critical issues (at most 3 – 5) for each employee or team. And then you want to relentlessly follow up and focus only on those few issues.
Less is more.
First, remain consistent with prior commitments. One of the most demoralizing and exhausting aspects of business is the wasted time, attention and effort on initiatives or programs that are hot and heavy for a few weeks or a few months and then ignored as leaders move onto the next “sexy” idea. If you have committed to a course of action, be consistent and follow-up, seeing it to its end.
Second, being consistent requires that you stay on message, even if that means overlooking trivial problems, no matter how annoying or “easy to fix.” Above all else, you need to focus your attention on the few critical issues. As a Division President visiting a business, I would often come up with 15 – 20 items that needed to be fixed, changed, or easily improved. It was a real struggle to force myself to ignore many of these to focus my attention and the attention of the leadership team of the business on just the 3 – 5 critical issues. But, without this consistent focus, the business would change priorities constantly and soon lose its way.
2. Consistent moods, behavior, and decision-making so that your team knows where you are coming from
A September 2010 Harvard Business Review panel session discussed the biggest mistakes that a leader can make. One of the most important was being inconsistent – inconsistent in mood, inconsistent in behavior, inconsistent in how a leader makes decisions. This inconsistency breeds fear and uncertainty throughout the business as each employee wonders:
Which one is coming in to the office today?
Will it be the somber, reflective leader? Will it be the passionate go-getter? Will it be the dead fish? Will it be the angry, bitter boss?
A leader is always on stage and needs to show the same positive and consistent face to his or her audience (the team). Of course, this is hard to do when it has been a truly rotten morning. But it is necessary, in order to avoid outbursts of anger, mixed messages, or other destructive and morale-sapping leadership behavior.
3. Consistent delivery, brand image and presence with the customer.
To build your business, you must first consistently deliver value to your customers. The simple adage of “do what you say” goes a long way as most customers are accustomed to broken promises and poor service. With consistent delivery and consistent service, you can then focus on promoting a positive and consistent brand image with the customer.
As Howard Fluhr, Chairman of the Segal Companies, has said:
Your communication [to your team and to your customer] must be clear, consistent and repetitive over time.
Be consistent in your brand message, your advertising, and your market presence. Common or rapid changes in your message and image distract the customer and prevent them from forming and strengthening an image of your company in their mind. Your consistent performance, message, and presence with the customer (through regular sales calls and interaction) boosts credibility and awareness of your business, what it stands for, and what it can do to help solve the customer’s problems.