Monday, April 14, 2008


Leaders need to be consistent in thought and direction. This is different from the concept of minimizing dissonance. Leaders need to set an organizational objective that enables the team to implement strategies and develop the tactics to achieve the objective.

I was once part of a team which had a pretty well defined objective. The strategy though was not so well defined and the tactics shifted weekly. As a result, the team under performed. It went through the motions of establishing itself, but the leader of the team kept changing the strategic direction which kept the team members from achieving their potential. It seemed that every time the leader went to a conference, class, or seminar--everything had to change. I agree things had to change but one strategic direction was never adopted for long enough to give the team a chance to develop the tactics necessary to make the strategy successful and then to achieve the objective.

Leaders are driven people. They are inherently successful and want to be successful. I know I like to be on the cutting edge of my profession. But the downside is that if, as leaders, the direction of the organization or our leadership style is constantly changing, the team cannot adapt and learn how to be successful. Worse, if the objective or strategy is constantly changing, the organization cannot succeed.

So what is consistency? Does that mean we can never change or alter our organizational course? No, of course not. Leaders need to carefully consider that every change comes at a cost. At a minimum the cost is lost momentum as the organization shifts to another objective. Organizations undergoing change become inward looking--focusing on internal mechanisms and operations. Successful organizations remain outwardly focused--keenly aware of the changing external environment and the competition. Successful teams adapt to the changing environment because their strategy already incorporates the ability to change to meet external stresses. A major reorganization and redefinition of the strategic goals should not be necessary every time a new external obstacle/threat appears.

Some leaders work well with organizational chaos, but for the most part long-term chaos is not healthy for people or organizations. Boundaries need to be set, goals determined and the approached fairly well planned. In military speak--the objective is identified, the strategy defined, and the tactics to implement the strategy are developed in response to the external forces which impede progress towards meeting the objective.

I attend leadership conferences and seminars to improve my skills and tool set. It is critical that leaders continue to improve their skills. The danger is that, based upon attendance at a conference or seminar, the leader will return and "change everything." While the leader may see a need to do this, the incorporation of change needs to be carefully considered and orchestrated. It must be communicated and if the change can be incorporated within the existing structure--so much the better. People expect product improvement and organizational improvement--these at least should be values that the organization is built upon. So small changes and incorporation of new procedures and ideas should be the norm. But if, as in the case of some leaders, the desire to change everything occurs after attendance at every seminar or class--then the problem is much larger and is probably related to feelings of inadequacy or inferiority that the leader has regarding the task or the organization or the situation.

Consistency is the ability to, when all of the chaos is happening, keep the organization's focus on the objective. Use the existing strategies to adapt and succeed. Consistency allows a leader to incorporate improvements and enhancements within the existing framework and not have it appear as a shift of focus from the existing objectives and strategies. The leader who lacks consistency is always chasing the next fad or invention and clearly is behind. The consistent leader is ahead of the fad and can rapidly incorporate ideas without giving the team a sense of emergency or panic.

No comments:

My Zimbio
Top Stories