What separates high achieving leaders from the rest?
Don is the general manager (GM) of a fast food restaurant. Year after year, he’s won GM of the year within his region of about 100 restaurants.
At a conference last week, I had a chance to speak with Mike, Don’s boss and the district manager of his region. I asked Mike what the secret to Don’s success is. He told me:
Don is Don is Don. With Don, what you see is what you get. I’ll be honest with you; Don isn’t exactly a people person. He might be a little bit rough around the edges.
That said, he is more committed to success than anyone I know. The word I would use to describe Don is consistent. His people know that he has incredibly high standards. Not just for them — but for himself as well. He will never ask anyone else to do anything that he is willing to do himself. He works harder than any of the people he leads.
Don doesn’t lower his standards for anyone. He’ll do his best to help people succeed in his system, but if they don’t show any signs of improvement, he has no problem with letting them go. Don doesn’t draw bad performance out, hoping that it will somehow turn around on its own.
What this does is create a culture where the people who work for him love him. He has more long-term team members than anyone else in the region by far. His team works like a well-oiled machine.
Frankly, Don and his store don’t need much from me at all. They make my life easy. I just stop in to say hi every three weeks or so, when I need to make myself feel better.
Don’s story is a great reminder that while there’s not a “one size fits all” approach to leadership, being consistent is a key ingredient for success.
Consistency is the wellspring of confidence. When those that we lead know what to expect, it satisfies one of their basic human needs: psychological safety. This becomes the basis for respect and trust.
Consistency is also the foundation of integrity. Consistency is what aligns our thoughts, our words, and our behavior. When we do what we say we will do, we develop the reputation for being the real deal. Our track record means people can count on us.
Employees desire to be led. In fact, they crave having a leader who can guide them through challenges that they can’t get through on their own. If you are inconsistent in either words or actions, employees will eventually lose confidence in your ability to lead. A natural next step would be for them to go in search of leadership somewhere else.
Consistency is what’s meant by leading by example. Albert Schweitzer, the Nobel Prize winner, once wrote:
Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing.
What habits do you have to generate consistency? Join the conversation by leaving a comment below.