It matters because…
Consistency can be boring, right? Why not shake it up a bit? When you manage people being consistent, approaching things in a predictable way allows your people to focus on the task and achieving the results and not on figuring you out first.
Leaders who are consistent can be relied upon. Leaders who are consistent can be trusted by being predictable. Leaders who are consistent can be anticipated (and you can surprise them by anticipating what they want). Leaders who are consistent inspire confidence. Working with a leader who can be relied on, trusted, anticipated and who inspires confidence is a treat.
What does the other side look like? What’s it like working for a leader who is inconsistent?
When a leader isn’t consistent you can get lost. You can get demoralized, demotivated, and end up feeling like you don’t really know what to do with a request from your manager. You might feel unsure and might worry about your performance. You might feel uninspired. Worse, you might leave or just put your head down, disengage and do your work.
Sometimes a leaders temperament is inconsistent - hot one day, cold the next. The impact on their people is that they end up “walking on eggshells” until they figure out who came to work today! The people reporting to a leader like this end up riding that leader’s emotional roller coaster.
What inconsistent looks like for me
Sometimes leaders communicate inconsistently. I know that for me, sometimes I am and have been thinking about something for a while and when I see the person I need to talk to, I walk right up to them and start discussing all I’ve been thinking about, which puts the person in an awkward spot, they try to catch up, and if I’m not paying attention, they go away “wondering what the hell was that”?. Conversely, most of the time, I set context, check for understanding and then ask for the effort to get the work done. My inconsistency in these cases actually make it harder for my people to do what I need them to do!
Leaders, I invite you to check your on own level of consistency. What do you do most of the time? If most of the time is you, when you are “on your game”, what do you notice about when you aren’t quite on your game? Did you behave in and a manner inconsistent with yourself when you were on your game? How did that inconsistency affect your people? How quickly were you able to come back? What impact did it have? Is that the impact you want to have?