We usually express a deep sigh of relief when we hear the words “safe and sound” from a loved one. The term is actually a Naval insurance term. Whenever a ship returned from a journey overseas, if everyone were “safe” it meant there were no injuries or deaths. The ship was “sound” if it had not suffered serious damage.
So, it is with Louie. When Louie settles in for the night, I love on him, and invariably I hear his “safe and sound” sigh. His being content and safe is largely due to my consistent loving and firm behavior. He never has to guess how I am going to respond. He has learned that a certain behavior from him will evoke a certain response from me. I don’t let bad behavior persist and then pounce on him. I am consistent with his discipline and even more so with his rewards. Because of this, he feels safe and adjusts well to even new environments, like schools and businesses.
Consistency doesn’t mean we are robotic. Louie loves variety and enjoys a new adventure, a new place to visit, or a new path to walk. And the point isn’t simply to be consistent. Anyone can be consistently bad! The point is to be consistently good. For the sake of this blog, let’s stick with the good: my consistent behavior should always move Louie toward being a happier dog who loves his mama, his home, and his audience (rambunctious K-2nd Graders).
Our behaviors, especially as leaders, must be consistently moving our family or team toward having more trust, being more creative, experiencing contentment, and being more productive.
It is next to impossible to trust an inconsistent leader. Their employees continually walk on eggshells because they never know if something is done perfectly or if their very best effort will ever be good enough. An inconsistent leader may preach values but proceed to gossip about someone. An objective all leaders should have is to consistently display behaviors that promote trust and a safe culture.
I can certainly look back over the years and recognize that my own inconsistent behavior made it very difficult for people to be around me, much less for them to be content, happy, creative, and productive employees. I’ve also had a number of bosses who were very inconsistent with their behaviors. The mood was always, “Do your job, keep your head down, and don’t do anything to rock the boat.”
On the contrary, consistent behavior that builds trust means remembering the following:
- Be who you say you are. People want to see you live the values you talk about.
- Being inconsistent does not necessarily show up in an explosive temperament.
- Inconsistency can also be demonstrated through passive-aggressive behavior.
- Be open to change. A safe person is not afraid of constructive feedback. Model a willingness to work on your weaknesses. Others just might follow your example.
- Be open and transparent. When we are guarded, people suspect we have something to hide. On the other hand, don’t go overboard on sharing personal data in an effort to prove you don’t have anything to hide! Be genuine and discerning.
Have fun, lighten up, and be consistently joyful.
We will achieve more when we set an objective to be consistently excellent leaders.