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Karin’s Leadership Articles

Kendra is late because she was at the hospital with her sick child and barely got home to take a shower… got it. Every now and then managers must make exceptions, no doubt. But now, John is late too, and you feel bad saying something to him, since you just let Kendra off the hook. Before you know it, late is the new black… to work, to meetings, and the envelope is being pushed in other arenas as well.

Or, you’re a Sales Director implementing a new customer information system. Your rock star, Janice, refuses to use it, and you figure it’s no big deal. You don’t want to push her buttons, and she’s got a system that works, so you leave her alone about the requirement. The challenge is everyone wants to be like her (particularly the new guys who need the system the most). Pretty soon, no one’s using the investment and all the incremental sales you baked into the business case are a pipe dream.

3 Ways to Avoid the Slippery Slope of Inconsistency

When people REALLY need an exception, they need an exception. But, most of the time they yearn for consistency. Here are three ways to show up as a human and stay true to your vision.

Explain Your Leadership Viewpoint

Try something like this: “I believe in situational leadership and doing the right thing for people in trying situations. I can’t always disclose WHY I’m chosing to make an exception, but please know that if I do, there’s a private matter at hand that we’re working through. Other than that, I’ll be working to be as consistent as possible. I trust that you will understand that so I can maintain the same flexibility when you have an extreme situation. In order to make this work, I need everyone staying true to our game plan.”

Know Consistency is Valued

In every company I work with I hear a consistent theme in focus groups:  “I wish our managers had tougher and more consistent standards. We’d be so much better if they consistently reinforced the requirements.” I hear that 10 times more than “My manager is too hard on us.”

Chances are everyone is rooting for you to take a stand.  Be human, but often the most fair and reasonable answer is to say “No” to deviant behavior.

Invite Your “A Players” to Be Role Models Not Exceptions

Your “A Players” feel they deserve special treatment. Give it to them. Invite them to help you solve the bigger problem, not stay on the outskirts. If you doubt this can be done, call me. The biggest turnarounds have always involved getting the prima donnas to help for the greater good.

Once your team is headed down a slippery slope, it’s darn impossible to get them moving uphill. Your team is yearning for leadership, parameters and consistency, with the occassional human exception. Approach these situations with the confidence that your vision is important, and the humility to know when their situation warrants an exception.

Do you need help preparing for an important turnaround? Call me for a free consultation. 443-750-1249.

Karin Hurt

Karin Hurt helps human-centered leaders resolve workplace ambiguity and chaos, so that they can drive innovation, productivity and revenue without burning out employees. She’s the founder and CEO of Let’s Grow Leaders, an international leadership development and training firm known for practical tools and leadership development programs that stick. She’s the award-winning author of four books including Courageous Cultures: How to Build Teams of Micro-Innovators, Problem Solvers, and Customer Advocates and Winning Well: A Manager’s Guide to Getting Results-Without Losing Your Soul and a hosts the popular Asking For a Friend Vlog on LinkedIn. A former Verizon Wireless executive, Karin was named to Inc. Magazine’s list of great leadership speakers. Karin and her husband and business partner, David Dye, are committed to their philanthropic initiative, Winning Wells – building clean water wells for the people of Cambodia.

7 Comments

  1. Dan Nagel

    Hi Karin,

    I believe the explanation of your leadership viewpoint is spot on. Thank you for sharing.

    Dan

    Reply
    • Karin Hurt

      Dan, Thanks so much!

      Reply
  2. Paul Robbins

    Thanks, Karin! Great points in your post. I especially find useful your point for getting “prima donnas” to help for the greater good. I infer that the bait is for them to use their “natural leadership” to be your team’s role model. 🙂

    Reply
    • Karin Hurt

      Paul, yup, whatever works 😉

      Reply
  3. LaRae Quy

    Consistency is huge! I agree, Karin…

    A lack of consistency has always been one of the biggest morale sinkers in my experience…leaders who are not consistent do not instill confidence in the team!

    Reply
  4. Terri Klass

    Being consistent helps build leadership trust because people can depend on how a leader will respond. If leaders pick and choose the rules to play, team members will always be wondering how issues will be handled.

    Love the idea of involving the A players to help support consistency!

    Great post Karin!

    Reply
  5. Alli Polin

    Great advice! Reminds me of raising children too. If they know that your answer is maybe… they will push and push for what they want until it’s easier for you to give in. Being consistent as a leader and as a parent sets the expactation about how things work and makes it clear that pushing is not the way to change an outcome.

    ~ Alli

    Reply

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