In March’s edition of Business Brief, I continued my series of leadership insights by concentrating on consistency because I’m convinced that this is the underrated secret to leadership success.
It’s the tenacity and determination to keep showing up, taking steady steps towards compelling objectives and not getting sidetracked, that separates the merely good from the great.
Yes, this begins with inspiration, but inspiration will only get you so far. The discipline and determination to do the right things, to take focused action day in, day out, is the ‘grit’ that will lead to excellent performance.
Consistency creates trust
Consistency includes leadership approach and style, choosing to bring your best ‘self’ to every situation and refusing to accept and excuse unhealthy behaviour, regardless of pressure and strain.
People quickly learn to trust a leader who is consistent in their approach to decisions, people, pressure and change. In contrast, volatile and unpredictable leaders engender caution and fear in their people, curbing their creativity and limiting their willingness to shine a light on problem areas.
When working with leaders, we explore passion, a word that evokes varied responses. Leadership passion has little to do with extroverted bursts of charisma, nor indeed romance (!). The root of the word passion means ‘suffering’, the idea that you have a cause that is worth the blood, sweat and tears to pursue.
In The Passion Paradox, Brad Stulberg and Steve Magness describe consistency with great eloquence: ‘Dreaming about the work isn’t the work. Talking about the work isn’t the work. Only doing the work is the work.’
The value in pursuing such a goal lies substantially in the consistent journey towards it. Climbing the mountain to reach the peak rather than being helicoptered to the top.
Great leaders know that consistency of effort will get you to the goal. Kobe Bryant, arguably one of the best basketball players of our time and tragically killed in a helicopter accident recently, said: ‘I have nothing in common with lazy people who blame others for their lack of success. Great things come from hard work and perseverance. No excuses.’
Yet often, in our work, we find that leaders struggle with consistency. It can be too easy to be distracted by the next best thing and to lose focus. Or the demands of meeting quarterly financial targets causes a panic-burst of energy in the wrong direction.
In fact, the moment that a leader feels like ‘today is not the day for this’ is precisely the day to find the inner strength to stay focused.
We believe that doing the work, every day, day after day, will bring success, but remember, sometimes we need to work on ourselves before we can help others achieve their goals. If that idea resonates with you, get in touch with Leaders to find out more.