MERRY CHRISTMAS! This is the fourth in a series of nine articles, titled: “Lessons from the Incline.” These leadership lessons were realized while during weekly hikes up the Manitou Incline in Colorado. Here we tackle the topic of "Navigating the leadership terrain".
MERRY CHRISTMAS! We can't talk a bout consistency without talking about Old Saint Nick, am I right? Every year, he consistently delivers the goods around the world. His list is set, his reindeer prepped, and his suit is pressed! That jolly old elf is nothing if not consistent, and the elves love and trust him for that! So now, let's dive into consistency as a leader.
Consistency: One definition of consistency is the quality or fact of staying the same at different times. When you are drudging up an incline, sometimes the best thing that you can do is be consistent in your stride and put one foot in front of the other. As a leader, knowledgeable and well-balanced consistency will help you build trust within your team and will give you a play book for success for challenging times.
The idea here is that you, as a leader, must remain consistent in your decision making, demeanor, schedule, and in every aspect of your leadership life! No pressure, right? What this doesn't mean is that you are rigid in how you lead your people and leave no room for contingency planning. What this does mean is that you must compose yourself in a way that your people can trust you in any situation.
Trust is one of the most important things a leader can gain from their people. A culture of trust in the workplace is crucial especially in times of conflict, great success, or failure. A leader must be aware of their impact and be understand that they hold a great amount of idealized influence.
Idealized Influence: We have all heard the age-old phrase, "do the right thing, even when you think no one is looking." Idealized influence refers to how you consistently conduct yourself as a role model and leader of character in the boardroom, on the zoom call, and after hours. A leader conducts him or herself in a manner worth following. This pertains to how they speak, listen, act, and respond to their employee's needs, concerns, or complaints.
We have all been on that zoom call when someone forgets to mute themselves. We start to hear the chatter that seems to have nothing to do with the actual conversation. Everyone else stops talking and looks to see who has the "hot mic." If you are sitting at the virtual head of the table, you frantically search for the mute button to ensure that your team member doesn't embarrass themselves and that they don't say anything or have the team hear them say something that they will regret.
This is an all too familiar occurrence these days. As leaders, we must live our lives, professionally and personally, as if our mute button is broken. The people we lead are watching us, listening to us, and analyzing our behavior. Leadership failures often bleed over into personal failures which could have been avoided. If you are to be trusted as a leader, you have to be holistically trustworthy.
We all have flaws and make mistakes. Even the great Steve Jobs sometimes made questionable leadership decisions. However, in a world where news and gossip travel instantaneously through social media networks, emails, and texts, we must ensure that our leaders' behavior is above reproach. But when we do make mistakes, we address them appropriately and quickly.
Consistency, when climbing up a mountain, is about setting your pace and moving out. In leadership, this is no different, however you aren't just setting the pace for yourself, but the pace of your entire team. For example, if you don't take time off, your staff won't feel comfortable taking time off. If you work yourself to the bone, your people will think that's the standard by which they will be measured. Take the time to understand who you want to be as a leader, and be consistent with it. This will build a culture of trust within your organization and your team will become a resilient power house when it's time to perform.
On a final note, take care of yourselves and each other this year. Make sure you are checking in with your people and yourself. Take the time off, if you have it, to rest and spend time doing what you love to do. For me, that's spending time with family and eating WAY too much food. Make sure you are speaking to yourself with grace and patience. Don't let negative self-talk infiltrate your neurological pathways and make you think about things that simply aren't true. Be kind, be safe, and as always, start strong and finish this year well! MERRY CHRISTMAS, and a happy new year.
Much love, guys!
Dr. T. Hearne