Being a leader is not a part-time job. To produce consistent results we’re expected to almost always be present in the business in some form or fashion. Those who depend on us count on reliability in their leaders.
We can all agree that it’s easy to be a great leader when things are going well. When sales are up, profits are growing, and customers are happy, you’re happy. It seems that you have all the right answers. You lead inspirational staff meetings, remember to thank everyone for their effort, and confidently wear a smile at the office.
When things are going well, you tend to believe that you have been blessed with a natural ability to inspire others and that being a great leader doesn’t require much effort.
Unfortunately, things don’t always go well.
Your best customers switch to the competition. New sales stop pouring in. Productivity slows. Star employees leave. As a leader, the question is not whether or not these things will happen to your company, but rather, how you will respond to these challenges.
Many leaders are a direct reflection of the company’s current situation. When things get tough, these leaders often get negative, lose focus and cancel regular commitments because they are “too busy” handling the current crisis. In this situation, the staff always knows the company is facing a serious challenge because the leader communicates this stress and fear in everything he says and does.
One of the keys to being a great leader keys is to make sure that your attitude, demeanor and ability to inspire others doesn’t suffer when serious challenges arise.
To be a great leader, you must be consistent no matter what the circumstances.
When it’s most difficult, keep the following four items in mind
- Remember: business is a marathon, not a sprint. Nothing will happen in your business today that you won’t be able to handle. In addition, no matter how large the challenge, it will probably seem small when reflecting upon it in the future.
- Be conscious of how you communicate emotions. So many of the wrong kinds of messages are communicated to your team when you become inconsistent. Make it a point of being ahead of schedule and communicating to your team.
- Set clear expectations. Make sure that your team understands that on a regular basis there are certain ground rules that will always be followed. (Examples include regular staff meetings, progress updates, office gatherings, etc.)
- Review your progress. At the end of every day ask yourself, “Was I a consistent leader today?” If the answer is “no” that is OK. Just make sure that you recognize how you let your circumstances influence your behavior and learn from the experience. The key is to improve a little every day.
Your team must know that they can generally expect the same person to lead the company day in and day out. Your team won’t respond well in an environment characterized by huge swings in the atmosphere—whether positive or negative. In times like this, it’s most important to stress the small wins in your business. Most employees want consistency so that they clearly understand what is expected of them in any situation.
So, in the fast paced, pressure packed world of business today, how can you become a more consistent leader?
First, remember that it’s not going to be easy. Disciplining yourself to not allow the circumstances of each day overly influence how you lead will always be a big challenge.
I know what you’re thinking: easier said than done. I couldn’t possibly understand how crazy it gets at your company. You might be right—your company might be especially busy and out of control. But, it doesn’t matter.
Your main responsibility as a leader is not to get more done on your own. You will not win a medal at the end of the year for putting in the most hours or extinguishing the most fires. Your main job is to guide and influence the behavior of others. The key to being a great leader is to get more out of those you lead—not yourself. And one of the keys to doing this is to be consistent—every single day.
Author: CJ McClanahan is an author, speaker and executive coach. Over the past 12 years, he has spoken to thousands of professionals and has helped more than 300 business owners and corporate management teams achieve record sales and profits. He began his consulting career as a licensed business coach with Action Coach and was soon named “Rookie of the Year” and “Coach of the Year” in his territory and was recognized nationally with the “Action Man of the Year” award.”