February 26, 2021
Last week marked the one-month anniversary of the new administration in Washington. For me, the most entertaining part of a change in the White House from one party to another, Democrat to Republican or as we’re being treated to now, Republican to Democrat, is to watch how quickly people change their positions on matters that propelled them into office. It’s not just this new president. They all do it. What may have changed, in this more polarized climate, is the willingness of many to overlook it. But still for a great deal of Americans consistency still matters. What one says and what one actually does should be the same.
And that’s the point for the week.
One of the most valued traits in a leader is consistency. People expect that what a leader does or says today will match up with what they do or say tomorrow. This isn’t a lot to ask for. It’s generally considered a matter of personal integrity, on a par with keeping one’s word. People consider it a binary trait in their leaders – that is, either they have it or they don’t. Either they are consistent, or they aren’t. Either they have integrity, or they don’t.
With consistency comes trust, the foundational prerequisite to any healthy leader-follower relationship. Without trust, there can be no assurance of any productive future interaction between two people. Period.
So, why then do these people behave this way? They do so for the same reason so many politicians exist within American corporations today. Because these holdovers from the last century mistake approval of policy for approval of them personally. They confuse like for what they say with charisma. What they fail to grasp is that people have memories. That they have an ability to recall what was said before. And that they certainly can keep track of whether promises made become promises kept.
Telling people what they want to hear does not constitute charisma, no more than making grand promises does. Charisma is neither defined by one’s smile nor their stature nor their appearance. Charisma is, though, defined by the degree to which one can be relied upon to do what they say they are going to do. Charisma is likewise earned by behaving consistently, regardless of the personal costs involved.
When leaders act with consistency, they tell others without saying a word that they can be relied upon. They provide assurance against surprises, drama and other distractions that result from erratic out of left field behavior. They enable greater and more predictable successes. Best of all, the organizations led by these people attract better talent, better customers, better suppliers and better investors – because winners associate with winners, leaving the inconsistent promise breakers to their own unpredictable devices.
So, build your reputation on consistency.
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