At Google, twice a year they ask everyone who has a manager to evaluate that manager. The result is thousands of pieces of data and the understanding that the most respected managers were those most consistent.
Of the 18 traits of a superlative leader, this one – consistence – appears to be the most mundane. Most entrepreneurial types appear to be anything but consistent. But upon examination, we will discover that consistence in leadership, like consistency in paste or concrete, holds things together. In an organization, the tendency is always towards disintegration, in itself an interesting and revealing word. Integration (not talking about racial integration here as important as that is) is the oneness, the sameness of a group. DIS-integration is when that sameness and togetherness begins to come apart.
Consistent leaders hold things together. Here’s how:
Consistence builds trust. Celebrity or fame may be a flash but reputation is built over the long haul. It’s that dependable and reliable performance in the same direction that builds the confidence others have in you and your company.
Consistence is to never flip flop in order to make an impression, be popular, or pander. Superlative leaders who are certain of who they are, confident in their ability to lead the organization to where s/he wants it to go, and possess egos of sufficient strength remain fixed. And they do not try to curry favor with any constituency by telling them what they want to hear if doing so would compromise integrity in any way.
Consistent leaders may use different leadership styles and approaches depending on the people involved and the dynamics of the circumstances, but their commitment to the vision, to principles and practices of fair play and square dealing never vary. I am not implying that superlative, consistent leaders use the same manner or same style when dealing with everyone. I am suggesting that they treat everyone principally the same with equal regard for them and commitment to the message.
Consistent leaders can take accurate and meaningful measurements because they do things…, well, consistently over a period of time. The variables that may affect measurements did not come from them therefore numbers mean the same today and tomorrow.
Consistent leaders maintain their message and emphasize their emphasis. By keeping eye on the prize, by comparing all actions to the stated nature and direction of the organization, and by celebrating progress and rewarding behavior all the time, superlative leaders use every opportunity and every occasion to focus everyone always on the vision and purpose of the organization.
Consistent leaders give people, processes, programs, ideas, concepts, and practices time to work. Some never will but most things do not produce the desired results immediately. Even then, after time, many things need only a minor tweak to work better.
Consistent leaders appeal to subordinates because of their reliability and they attract their bosses for the same reason. Leaders who demonstrate reliability and responsibility always advance. Always.
Consistent leaders are credible leaders. Predictability is a good thing. It may sound boring, but it is not. Steadiness is a desirable trait. Volatility is not. I consulted with an organization once that had a volatile leader. He was like the explosive nitroglycerin. Employees tiptoed around never knowing what or when something would set him off. The result was that innovation and creativity within the organization ceased to exist. If any new ideas or objectives came forth, they came forth from Mr. Big himself or not at all. Predictably, he complained that he had to think of everything himself. He never did understand that he had made it that way.
If we surveyed your subordinates, how would they rate you?