By Holly Tate
Think about every leader you’ve ever had. Think of every coach, teacher, supervisor, manager, vice president, and CEO you’ve ever known. What made them great? What made them terrible? What made them mediocre? If you look among the greats, you’ll likely find a particular trait that each of them possessed: consistency in their leadership.
When you Google the word “consistent,” one of the definitions given is “unchanging in nature, standard, or effect over time.” That definition nearly perfectly describes a good leader. But what does it look like to be unchanging in nature, standard, or effect? Let’s talk about it.
A person’s nature is their essence. It’s all the non-physical things that make up who they are. It’s your mind, your character, and your heart. Your nature, (how you think, your intentions, and your passions), dictate how you operate in the world. Whether you’re at home or at work, your nature is calling the shots, most of the time.
What does the nature of a good leader look like? A good leader is fair, kind, knowledgeable, understanding, and trustworthy. Being fair, kind, and understanding as a leader simply comes down to this—you’re good with people. You care about the team and its individual members. You see them, not for the tasks that they’re doing, but for the person they are. You recognize that everyone is human, and respect everything that comes with that.
Being knowledgeable and trustworthy gives you authority. When you are knowledgeable and trustworthy, your team or organization can feel confident looking to you for help or reassurance. Your nature will determine a lot about how you lead, but how do you tangibly measure your skill as a leader? The answer is standards.
Creating a standard as a leader means setting the bar for how things are done. It means setting the tone for how people should conduct themselves. It means setting the level of excellence for executed goals. When you set the standard, you give your team or organization guardrails so they know when they’re succeeding and when they’re beginning to miss the mark.
A good leader is consistent when they expect the same level of excellence or achievement from everyone on their team, including themselves. They hold everyone to the same standard they hold themselves to. They model the dedication and quality they want to see in others, and when that happens regularly, that type of leader will see their desired results.
When you, as a leader, are consistent in your nature and in your standards, you can
consistently achieve goals. The effect, in this case, is the desired outcome. It’s the target, and you’re the one that ensures the target gets hit 99% of the time.
The effect is also the environment you, as a leader, set for success. Think of it as the effect you have on people. If you’re modeling the standard you want to see, and you’re leading with a balance of humility and authority, you’re most likely going to see that reflected back at you through your team. They experience you being kind, so they’re kinder to others. They see that you always show up to meetings fully-engaged, so they will show up to meetings fully-engaged. When you’re consistent in effect, you lead with the end goal in mind.
3 Tangible Ways to Be Consistent as a Leader:
- See your direct reports as people, not tasks.
Whether it’s a 1:1 or an all-staff meeting, show those under your leadership that you see them first as human beings. Support them as an entire person who exists all the time, whether they’re at the office or not. Make sure you know what everyone has going on, what they struggle with, and what they’re good at. Get to know them and make an effort to care for and develop them.
- Set a baseline, and be clear about what it is.
There is arguably nothing that causes more turmoil in the workplace than unclear expectations. It’s good to have standards as a leader, and it’s essential that those standards are clearly communicated and understood.
- Take your eye off of the clock.
The last part of that google definition said “…over time.” Consistency doesn’t happen overnight. There’s no instant cure for inconsistency. Consistency only happens when you inhabit it. You have to become consistent to be a consistent leader, and that takes time. Focus your efforts on implementing small, daily habits, and you’ll find yourself living out consistency.
What Happens When You’re an Inconsistent Leader?
In a nutshell, you’ll lose the trust of your team or organization. Your team members and other leaders will feel like you’re unreliable or unapproachable. After that, you won’t be seen or respected as a leader.
Consistency in leadership is a must, especially in today’s ever-changing world and work landscape. The good news is that everyone is capable of being a great leader. Everyone has the potential to be unchanging in nature, standard, and effect. Show up as yourself, show up on a mission of excellence, and keep at it, and you’ll find that you’ll be leading with consistency faster than you think!