My friend, Art Jonak tweeted the following, which I’ll display in long-hand since this blog does not have the challenge of keeping thoughts to 140 characters (hmmm, are you thinking that, perhaps this blog should have that challenge?) 🙂
“Aberrant Behavior breaks trust. True leaders make decisions based on their principles. This creates consistent behavior & trust.”
Let’s first look at the quote to make sure we agree with its meaning. Aberrant relates to something different from the norm; in this case, it would mean an inconsistency of the leader in question. The quote, up to that point, simply means that when a leader is inconsistent, it breaks trust.
This would seem to be true, just as when parents are inconsistent with their children, a teacher with his students, or a coach with her players. As human beings, we relate to consistency. Actually, we are hard-wired to be secure with consistency.
All else being equal (in other words, assuming we buy into their mission and are in alignment with their goals, mission and basic character), we trust the person who is consistent. To this point in the quote, it has nothing to do with the leader, parent, teacher or coach being a “good” person or not; we’re just discussing trust as it relates to consistency.
Now, let’s look at the second part,that (true) leaders make decisions based on their (guiding) principles. I suggest this is also very true. Again, this is not even to suggest that this leader is a “good” person with “good intent.” There have been many evil people; tyrants who were great leaders when the term “leader” is defined as one who leads others in a particular cause or pursuit, or towards a particular goal.
(It goes without saying that hopefully their goals and ambitions, as well as the internal principles that guide them, are in fact what most of us would consider to be “good” or “worthy.”)
And, when these leaders – for good or evil purposes – make decisions that are consistent and based on their guiding principles (remember, these guiding principles aren’t necessarily good or bad…they just “are”) then they are most likely very effective leaders.
When a leader bases every decision he or she makes on the foundation of their guiding principles, this – by its very nature – creates consistent behavior. And, as suggested at the very beginning, the consistent behavior creates trust.
This does not mean that he or she doesn’t admit mistakes; not at all. Only that every decision is based on the clear set of principles and guidelines. Consistency breeds trust. And, those who can respect their leader for their integrity and consistency are a lot happier and more secure than those who really doesn’t know where their leader stands.
In a family, for example, it doesn’t mean that Mom or Dad don’t admit to making mistakes and even change some decisions they’ve made based on new information. But they are absolutely and completely consistent on principle (their children are not allowed to lie, steal, bully others, they must address elders with respect, etc.).
What about you? Are there leaders you have followed who – when you think about it – were effective, at least in part, because of their consistency? Any whom you didn’t quite trust as deeply for the opposite reason? What about you as a leader – is consistency based on guiding principles something about which you are ruthlessly watchful?
Please feel free to share your thoughts.