Even kids know that distrust in adults comes from inconsistencies in what is said and what is done. So it’s no surprise that employees recognize a failure in leadership when they see a similar disconnect. A leader should inspire confidence in subordinates. This requires consistency.
Leadership credibility involves many things, but the quickest way to tarnish a reputation as a credible person is to not follow through on promises. Just like a restaurant review, people remember one bad experience much more than several good experiences. Therefore, leaders have to be very careful with the promises and agreements they make with employees. Don’t be the absent parent that promises to come take the kids to Disney World every other weekend, but never shows. Eventually, people come to expect that behavior. Don’t be that leader!
The Consequences of Inconsistent Leadership
Just like a kid waiting on a parent, frustrated employees may begin acting out. This often involves under-performing or other negative behaviors. These behaviors, in turn, can start to create a toxic work environment. In addition, a poor example from leaders on how to conduct business within the company can impact how employees handle customers. Positive examples start from the top!
Not following up on tasks and evaluations can also damage leadership credibility. The task may be done, but the process is not complete. A leader who can follow-through knows the importance of continuous monitoring and renegotiation as necessary.
A Few Basic Rules
There are a few simple ways a leader can ensure that he or she doesn’t start the snowball effect of negative behaviors. A leader with follow-through has some basic rules to regulate his or her actions to avoid missteps:
- Know the company’s goals and make sure all your actions help to promote them.
- Choose your words carefully to avoid misunderstanding. Differences in what is said and what was meant can cause frustration.
- Don’t make promises you can’t keep.
- If consequences are in place for an action, follow them to the letter.
This last part is very important, and one that can be difficult in a working environment with closely connected employees. If the company policy explicitly states a rule and an employee breaks that rule, there should be consequences – even when the employee is a valuable asset. Bending the rules for one person sends a message that those rules don’t matter. This can be detrimental to the employees who do follow the rules. They may feel their efforts are invalid. Furthermore, those who don’t value company policy may feel free to break rules without fear of real consequences. If the corporate culture of the business is one that values integrity, this is a major misstep that can negatively impact the working environment.
Follow-through with leadership shows employees that words and actions within the company matter. More, and quite compelling, information about the importance of follow-through can be found here:
- The Importance of Following Through, from Leadership Excellence, Ltd.
- The Importance of Personal Integrity in Leadership: 4 Ways to Follow Through, by Rose Krivich