Consistent leadership is one of the most important strength of successful managers. As a business leader you are in charge of establishing a consistent culture and value system in your company.
Why inconsistent leadership often fails.
The manager is annoyed: The business goals are not reached, decisions are not implemented and deadlines with customers are not met. It’s enough.
“We need to implement what we have agreed. We need to be more consistent in what we do. As a boss I must and will be more consistent! From now on I will consistently check results and take action if needed!”
Employees hear it and they understand the reaction of the manager. Inconsistency is a waste of time and money. A company can’t afford it long term.
Everyone agrees – but after a while everything is as it was before. The manager has failed to act and stay consistent. This is unfortunately a typical leadership mistake.
The question is why? Why is it so hard to be consistent as a boss? What can you do as a boss in order to be consistent in your daily activities?
The Managing Director called his 8 department heads for a meeting for 10 am. Now it is 10:15. Everyone is there – only he is missing. Suddenly the door of the meeting room opens. The Managing Director enters the room and apologizes briefly:
“Sorry for the delay, but I had to talk to John about the production figures for tomorrow.”
What goes through your head when you read that? You might think:
“I understand that. As a boss, I have so much work to do. My employees sometimes also have to wait for a few minutes.”
This short wait can be quite expensive. In the above example, each of the 8 department has 15 minutes to wait idly. At an assumed hourly rate of $ 150 for each head
$ 150 x 15/60 x 8 = $ 300 !
are wasted in this 15 minutes!
Perhaps you’re thinking now:
“$ 300 is not that much. That can happen even once. The meeting with John regarding production numbers was surely important! “
The point is: It is not about the $ 300 loss. It is crucial that the manager acts a role model. If you demand punctuality of your employees – and you should – then you need to be on time as well – always. No excuses.
If you want consistent leadership in your company you have to act consistently. The first thing is to be consistent with yourself. Walk the talk! The fish always stinks from the head!
As an executive you have to act consistently. What does it mean? You must define the goals properly, agree measures and actions with your staff and check the outcome, control the results.
If you don’t control results regularly, you aren’t consistent – and you and your emplyoees aren’t neither effective nor efficient. You give a wrong impression. It looks like you do not care about the results. It look like that the work of your employees doesn’t really matter to you. That’s fatal!
But don’t act as a micromanager. Control results, but not the steps towards the result. Avoid micromanagement by all means.
How can you avoid being inconsistent in your day to day work?
7 Tips to achieve consistent leadership!
1. Your commitments are a word of honor!
Your deeds must follow your words. Little things count.
Keep your commitments – always – no matter whom you gave it, and no matter how seemingly unimportant it may seem to you. You gave the commitment voluntarily. No one put the gun to your head, right?
If you tell one of your employees, you send him the e-mail on Wednesday, your employee should not receive the e-mail on Thursday! Otherwise you destroy employee motivation. You don’t want that, do you?
Take any of your commitments seriously – as serious as a word of honor. That’s what true leaders do!
2. Focus! Ask only what is truly important!
If the boss wants to become consistent, he wants this change immediately. He changes his behavior and wants his employees to change immediately as well.
But change is mostly not working that quickly. It takes time to get all on board. The new rules must not only be heard but also understood and accepted. Your employees need time to realize that your behavior change is serious and will stay long term.
So do not change everything at once, but go to the things that are really important. Name the important things by name and be there consistently. But do not get bogged down with consistency in unimportant trifles.
3. Keep a written record of agreements!
If you make arrangements or give a commitment, write it down. No need for a comprehensive protocol. A short e-mail just mentioning the results is fine.
4. Define objectives and actions verifiable and transparent!
Qualitative goals can become a great danger. Pseudo Goals such as:
“We will improve our communication!”
“We will increase our supply rate!”
do nothing if they are not quantified or if at least measures and actions with deadlines and responsible are derived.
General calls for greater customer focus and for increase of competitiveness will not do any good. These calls are getting lost in the daily operating business. The manager has to make sure goals and actions are clearly defined: Who is doing what until when? Only then he can control the results later on.
5. Plan the dates for reviews well in advance!
As a manager you should regularly check milestones. Have the objectives been achieved? It is helpful to develop your own appropriate control structures to remove your own inconsistency and inefficiency.
One problem is often that managers understand that the regular control is important, but they do not classify them as a matter of urgency.
A customer call or a problem in the production is urgent. It appears suddenly. Are these things strongly important? Mostly not. In contrast, regularly checking results is crucial important, but has mostly no urgency. Therefore it often falls by the wayside.
You can change this. Just make important things urgent! How? Assign dates for important things – do it months in advance!
For example: Fix a date once a month for a review meeting. In that meeting your employees report on the progress of their projects and you review the departmental goals regularly.
With the start of the year fix all these monthly meetings for the next 12 months in advance. Instruct your secretary that these dates are important and should not be canceled or postponed.
In this way these review meetings will become a habit for you. Believe me you will make a big step towards consistent leadership if you do this.
6. Put sanctions for seemingly mundane missed deadlines!
A Meeting must start on time. You need to make that a habit. To force all participants – including yourself – to be on time you can do the following:
Have a piggy bank in the meeting room. Anyone who is late must interject $ 1 per minute he is late. You as the executive have to throw in $ 5 per minute!
If the piggy bank is full, donate all the money to a charitable organization.
You will be surprised how quickly you and your employees get used to be on time.
7. Celebrating Success!
If your team and you have achieved important goals, celebrate. This doesn’t need to be expensive. It can be a nice dinner at an Italian restaurant or just a chocolate cake that you bring to the meeting.
The celebration of success will not only strengthen the team spirit. Rather, it also means that you and your employees connect positive experiences with the consistent checking of results – and that helps to be more consistent.