Keep things inconsistent to keep the team on their toes. That's a great motto, right?
Years ago, I had this boss who was terribly inconsistent. One week, he would praise us for our work, and the next week, we would do even better and he would say we were performing poorly. Teams never knew where they stood with this guy because they didn't have a consistent idea of what good and bad looked like.
Teams have to know what good looks like, so they can reach for it. That increases their chances for success.
But that make things too predictable, right? Predictability is the path to complacency.
No, not exactly.
You absolutely want to keep your teams on their toes, but you can do that with a heavy dose of predictability. For instance, if you have regular reviews where you hold your team accountable, that will actually make your team strive to improve. Predictability is the key to success, not inconsistency. That doesn't mean you shouldn't be open to change, but consistency is key.
The Perfect Blend of Agility and Consistency
The best leaders are agile and consistent at the same time. That seems impossible, but you can accomplish it by being open to change in some areas and consistent in others.
When it comes to agility, you need to be intellectuality curious and open to new ideas. You must be willing to communicate and collaborate. Adjust based on trends, ideas, and statistics, and be open to making changes when those changes make sense.
At the same time, there are three areas where you must always remain consistent.
Have Consistent Moods, Behaviors, and Decisions
Remember my boss I talked about earlier, the guy who was always changing the mark we needed to hit for a good performance? That is a terrible way to lead. Your moods, behavior, and decision-making need to remain consistent across the board.
The same person needs to come into the office every day. He or she needs to exhibit the same moods and behaviors, and the decision-making process needs to remain the same.
Does that mean you can't come up with a new way to reach your goals? Of course not. However, your methodology for reaching your decision needs to remain the same. If you change the rules in the middle of the game, your team won't understand how to play. Then, it will be impossible for them to succeed and they'll get frustrated. Frustration is a recipe for disaster, so make sure you're the same leader each and every day.
Maintain Consistent Focus
You need to identify critical issues that you want your team to focus on and remain consistent on those issues. The best leaders find 3-5 issues for the team to focus on and then follow up on those issues on a regular basis. This is where accountability comes into play. Your team knows you will hold each member accountable for those issues. They know these are the most important issues, and they will work hard to perform in the best way possible.
On the other hand, if you keep changing the focus, no one will know what to do. They will try to keep up with the changes, and your goals won't be met.
Keep Brand Messaging and Customer Interactions Consistent
It doesn't matter if your brand has been around since the beginning of time or since yesterday. Consistency is key when it comes to brand messaging and how you present yourself to your customers. The way you communicate your brand messaging needs to be clear and consistent each and every time. One little slipup can make your brand slide off track. You want everyone to have a clear idea of what your brand stands for and what it offers, and the only way to accomplish that is to remain consistent.
You want to keep your employees on their toes, but you don't want them dancing around, trying to figure out how to please you. That means you need to remain consistent. They can only achieve the goals if they know what those goals are and how success is measured. If you become good at this, your team will also improve. They will become better at what they do, and you will look better in the process.
Remember, a successful team begins with you. You are the leader, and success trickles down. If they have clear and consistent guidance, they will reach the goals you set forth. You are the key to their success, so find a way to be more consistent. Your team is counting on you to be the rock, and you can't do that if you're constantly changing the rules and your moods. Instead, you need to be solid, stable, and consistent in everything you do.