An Interesting Interaction

A young bright mind recently asked me, “What’s the most important behavior in great leaders?” 

They asked if it was the way leaders spoke to people?  Was it the way they recruited people?  Was it the way they communicated their vision?  Was it the goals they set?  Were they more emotionally intelligent?  Did they simply work harder at things?  Are they better listeners?  And so on.

These were all good questions and an argument could be made for any one of these being the most important. 

So... I paused for a moment and thought about the question I was just asked... and then replied with a question or my own.  “Who’s eyes are we looking through when we answer this question?”  Is it the eyes of the leader, is it the eyes of peers, or is it through the eyes of those considering to follow the leader?” 

The young mind thought for a moment and said... “let’s look at this through the eyes of those considering to follow the leader.”

The first word that came to mind when looking at it from this perspective was “Consistency”.

Why does Consistency Matter?

Consistency is the cornerstone to building amazing teams regardless the size of the team.  From the top down, the most successful teams are consistent in their behaviors, their goals, their activity, their beliefs, etc.  There is a cult-like feel developed.  There is a focused practice and a relentless consistency in how they go about their work.  They know that peaks and valleys will come and that new ideas will evolve and that the world is constantly changing but wherever they are today in that journey, they are consistent in their behavior and activities.

It doesn’t mean that every leader does it the same way… but the great leaders do have a “consistency” that is their own and it becomes contagious.

Great Leaders are consistent because they know that consistency builds trust.

They understand that trust is the foundation of great relationships and that leaders can not lead without enrolling others who are willing to follow them.  They understand that trust can not be achieved without first delivering consistent activity and behaviors.

Why do people crave Consistency and Trust in their leaders?

As humans, none of us are the same except for the fact that we are humans. 

Instinctively, the oldest part of our brain cares about 3 survival instincts that ultimately, and usually unconsciously, drive our decisions and actions.  Those 3 things are:

  1. Food – we need Oxygen, nutrients, water, food, etc…  to survive.
  2. Sex – we need to reproduce for humans to survive.
  3. Safety – this is the tricky one.  We instinctively want to feel safe and secure.

Safety is the tricky one because no two people have ever experienced all of the same moments and influences in life and what we define to be safe or not is completely based on our unique moments, experiences and influences.  It's instinctive for us to want to feel safe and to avoid feeling fearful.

Great leaders understand this.  They understand that consistency allows others the opportunity to decide if they trust you or not and whether you are worth following.  Great leaders understand their team needs to feel safe in order to really play the game and to follow with no fear.  Great leaders understand that fear based decisions rarely lead to something special. 

Great leaders know that fear can be a powerful motivator when used constructively for the good of the team but fear can also destroy a team when it’s out of control or inconsistently applied.  People crave to feel safe.  The role of a great leader is to create a safe path for others to follow.

In summary, consistency matters because it leads to trust and trust allows others to manage their fears. 

Be a great leader today.  Be consistent.  Remove fear.  Inspire others to follow.  Carve your path.

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