The Inconsistent Executive


The Inconsistent Executive

In our careers, we have all had encountered inconsistent executives. VIM Executive Coaching has certainly heard enough complaints over the years that run along these lines:

“I work with someone who is so inconsistent, we never know who he (or she) will be that day. It is so difficult to work for him (or her).”

The follow up to that comment is often “How do I prevent myself from becoming like that?”

The Problem with Inconsistency

The executive who runs “hot or cold,” or “angry or nice” helps neither themselves nor anyone who works around them. That it makes for difficult interactions is the least of the problems; it can translate to inconsistent policies, widespread miscommunication or conflict.

Inconsistency can also lead to flimsy excuses for poor behavior (“I guess I didn’t get enough sleep that night.” Or “My back was hurting that day.”), retraction (“I know what I said, but I didn’t mean it!) or even the most obscure suggestions of all (“You know me well enough to know exactly what I meant.”)

In the examples I posed above, when any of those comments or statements are applied to staff interactions, the results can easily range from confusion to frustration. Truthfully, claiming an angry diatribe toward a manager was due to a lack of sleep or back pain or any other ailment is both disingenuous as an excuse and transparent in its attempt to deflect responsibility.

Telling an employee an hour, days or even weeks after the fact that he or she should have read between the lines to know exactly what was meant, or that what was said was not meant to be said, erodes respect, complicates and creates insecurity and a lack of consideration.

If the problems with inconsistency plagued some executive leaders in the past, they have certainly become compounded in the current workplace. Remote workers, contract or part-time employees are terribly affected by inconsistency, and especially in organizations where the mission is critical or teams work toward the completion of a complex set of goals.

Overcoming Inconsistent Tendencies

The inconsistent executive is also an executive who might be viewed as groundless or without a consistent core. While we know that many an athletic trainer or coach talks of strengthening the core as key to maintaining health, so too does it apply to an inner core. Rather than working with clients to develop their physical core, we use another term and techniques to lead them toward greater authenticity.

The authentic executive, the executive who is mindful and in the moment is, by definition, much more consistent in thought and action. If getting to an inner core of authenticity and consistency is achieved, it does lead to more effective and even more compassionate leadership.

No, none of us is perfect. We do get aches and pains or we realize that what was said is worthy of retraction or even apology if it occasionally occurs against a body of work that is consistent in thought and action, but we must always strive to be as authentic and consistent as possible.

The enemy of inconsistency is not necessarily consistency, but mindfulness. Mindfulness can be cultivated with coaching. At VIM Executive Coaching we always want to lead our clients toward greater mindfulness and authenticity.

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Bruce Wolk