When I wake up in the morning, I know that someone is waiting for me. I hear a rustling in the corner of the room, and I remember that Myles, the Pug has an expectation. He knows that within the next three minutes, I will work my way downstairs and I will immediately open the backdoor to let him out. Within 45 seconds I will see him at the door, waiting impatiently to come back in the house. He will run over to his bowl, expecting to eat.
Myles will run downstairs as soon as he hears me coming in from work. He will follow me around until I change into comfortable clothing. He will stare at me and patiently wait while I put on my shoes. As I take the stairs one by one, he is jumping three at a time. He wants to get to his bowl before I get there. He rushes through his dinner, and runs over to me to get his evening walk.
Myles knows that we have three different routes we take in our walk. He expects to see the dog on the corner and gets excited to say hello. He knows exactly how far we will walk and when we will turn around. When we get back to the house, he pulls me up the driveway and waits for me to throw out the garbage. He runs to the door because he knows that I will give him a treat when we get in the kitchen.
Myles likes his routine and knows what to expect day after day. He takes comfort in knowing that the same thing will happen every single time. Because he knows what to expect from me, things go a lot smoother and easier.
I don’t think it’s any different for humans. We definitely like our habits and routines. The people around us prefer to know what to expect from us. For example, if you know anything about kids, you see how they crave a routine- they like to know what’s going to happen next. Life goes a lot smoother if they know that the same things will be expected of them day by day. And if they don’t deliver on the expectation, it certainly helps when they understand what will transpire next.
It’s really no different in the workplace. Have you ever struggled to work under someone’s inconsistent leadership? I have. The reason I struggled was because it was unclear to me what this leader wanted from me. The rules kept changing and I felt anxious by not understanding how to succeed in my job. On top of that, the expectations of each employee differed and were inconsistent. All of this added up to a culture of instability filled with negative emotions.
Great leaders show consistency in their actions.
They have clear expectations and they treat each and every person with the same level of expectation. They don’t have different rules for different people. The people around them are crystal clear on how to succeed at their jobs. Leaders that are consistent have healthy work environments where people feel safe, trust in their leadership and aren’t waiting for the “other shoe to drop”.
Now think about your own behavior. Do you send a consistent message to others? Are you consistent in your actions with others? Do others know what to expect from you day in and day out?
Congratulations if you have answered yes to these questions. You are one step closer to becoming a great leader.